Better Place shutting down U.S. operations
Better Place, a once-hot venture-backed electric vehicle company, is stopping U.S. and Australian operations to focus in Europe and Israel.
Better Place, the once-hot electric vehicle startup that raised $750 million in investment, said it is shutting down operations in the U.S. and Australia to focus on the markets where its made the most progress: Israel and Denmark.
Better Place's U.S. headquarters are in Palo Alto where at one time it had about 200 employees working to develop EV battery charging infrastructure. Former CEO Shai Agassi's vision for the company was that it would sell electric car miles the way cellular companies sell cell phone minutes. But a core part of BetterPlace's business was also battery swapping stations. BetterPlace never gained traction in the U.S. in building or testing battery swapping stations.
Agassi was replaced as CEO in October by the then-CEO of Better Place AustraliaEvan Thornley. Agassi resigned from the board a week later. Thornley was let go in January and Idan Ofer, Chairman, was charged with handling CEO duties.
The announcement regarding Better Place shutting down its North American offices listed Dan Cohen as CEO.
Shahaf Kieselstein, one of the first Better Place employees who now works for Intel Corp., spoke to an Oregon electric vehicle industry group last month offering cautionary advice about the industry.
“We have demonstrated that Better Place works as a concept. We need to prove to our customers, suppliers and investors that we have a sustainable, scalable model," Cohen was quoted as saying in a statement. "To do so we are now focusing on realizing the full potential of what we have built, and that means concentrating our resources and energy in the near term, on Denmark and Israel, where we have customers on the road enjoying our switching and charging networks. At the same time, we had to make some difficult decisions on actions to be taken elsewhere in the world."
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