Totaled: The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup that Took on Big Auto, Big Oil and the World

Totaled: The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup that Took on Big Auto, Big Oil and the World

by Brian Blum
Totaled: The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup that Took on Big Auto, Big Oil and the World

Totaled: The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup that Took on Big Auto, Big Oil and the World

by Brian Blum


    Qualifies for Free Shipping
    Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Thursday, February 29
    Check Availability at Nearby Stores

Related collections and offers


When a billion-dollar electric car startup crashed and burned, global investors and average car buyers alike asked: What happened? Business and technology journalist Brian Blum reveals the answer in his new book TOTALED: The Billion-Dollar Crash of the Startup that Took on Big Auto, Big Oil, and the World.

The Tesla 3 has grabbed the spotlight as the first “affordable” all-electric vehicle, but Israel’s Better Place came first. The plan was to use Israel --- a country the size of New Jersey and dubbed “the Startup Nation” --- to prove electric cars could work everywhere. Instead of fast charge, Better Place addressed range anxiety by building a network of battery-swap stations --- operated by robots.

Better Place’s charismatic CEO Shai Agassi believed his company’s innovative technology could help stop climate change and free nations from the yoke of oil dependence. His magnetic television appearances, viral TED Talk and compelling boardroom presence had investors and business leaders worldwide jumping in to ride shotgun. Countries from Japan to Denmark to Australia signed on and the privately-held Better Place raised nearly a billion dollars.

Yet in a few years, it was all over --- the company, buffeted by internal strife, an international corporate spy scandal, the Great Recession and technology disruptions, went bankrupt.

The story of the “electric car unicorn that collapsed” is a cautionary tale; a timely case study filled with valuable lessons for entrepreneurs, investors and executives in businesses of all sizes --- as well as everyone chasing the electric car Holy Grail.

TOTALED lays out the story of what happens when change hits a company on multiple fronts, sometimes all at once. Do you double down and stay the course or pivot like your company’s life depends on it?

TOTALED plunges deep into the riveting rise and fall of a company that sincerely wanted to change the world but couldn’t quite get to the finish line. TOTALED will captivate you, whether you’re interested in electric cars and mobility, green energy and the environment; or you simply enjoy reading business biographies.

TOTALED has received rave advance reviews from people like David Pogue, the former New York Times tech writer, who says that “Brian Blum’s deeply researched account is like playing a car-wreck video in slow motion: You can watch every stroke of bad luck, bad timing, and bad blood reduce a once-thrilling idea to dust.”

Gina Smith, author of iWoz, the New York Times best-selling biography of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, writes that TOTALED grants access to “a side of the startup world that few ever get to see --- much less survive.”

Ron Adner, author of The Wide Lens: What Successful Innovators See that Others Miss, describes TOTALED as “required reading for ambitious innovators.”

And Foreword Reviews writes that Better Place CEO Shai Agassi is “as compelling an antihero as found in any technology thriller. The book’s as-it-happens narrative makes for riveting reading.”

More information at

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780983042815
Publisher: Blue Pepper Press
Publication date: 08/22/2017
Pages: 358
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Business and technology journalist Brian Blum ( has covered all sides of the high-tech revolution. His articles about companies --- and the people, behavior and sometimes astonishing events that are behind them --- have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and Israel21c. He is a senior analyst for the Advanced Interactive Media Group and its "Classified Intelligence Report." Blum's own Internet publishing startup Neta4 raised $3.2 million, in 1998. He served as entrepreneur-in-residence for Jerusalem Global Ventures and was a vice president of marketing for telecommunications provider Comverse.  Blum has spoken at conferences and universities worldwide and was international president of the IICS multimedia professional association. He holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Oberlin College and a master's in Instructional Technology from San Jose State University. His first book, Interactive Media: Essentials for Success, was published by Ziff-Davis Press. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Blum lives in Jerusalem with his wife and three children.

Table of Contents

Cast of Characters


Chapter 1—The Early Days

Chapter 2—A Modern-Day Moon Shot

Chapter 3—Building a Better Place

Chapter 4—Hiring the Team

Chapter 5—Nuts, Bolts and Robots

Chapter 6—Tailpipes Not Invited

Chapter 7—Electric Land Grab

Chapter 8—Shai Agassi, Superstar

Chapter 9—“All You Need is a Plug, Right?”

Chapter 10—Two Scoops of Rocky Renault

Chapter 11—A Startup in Pinstripes

Chapter 12—Plugged in at the Great Wall

Chapter 13—U-Turn

Chapter 14—Bait and Switch

Chapter 15—How to Lose Money Without Really Trying

Chapter 16—“Who Trusts Shai?”

Chapter 17—“Not for Everyone”

Chapter 18—The End of the Road

Chapter 19—Saving Private Better Place




About the Author

From the B&N Reads Blog

Customer Reviews