Startup? Read Brian Blum’s great new book about Better Place

27 Aug 2017

In his spare time, when he wasn’t writing for us or one of his other clients, Brian Blum, our Jerusalem-based analyst for all things classifieds in the U.S., Canada and Israel, wrote a terrific book about a billion-dollar electric-car startup that collapsed.

It’s called “Totaled: The billion-dollar crash of the start-up that took on Big Auto, Big Oil and the World,” and it went on sale last week on and at Barnes & Noble.

There are great lessons for startups in “Totaled.”

Totaled: The billion-dollar crash of the startup that took on Big Auto, Big Oil and the World


It’s definitely worth a read.  It’s a combination of a business story; dirt about politics and intrigue in the auto industry and the Israeli government; a look at the future of electric cars (which are clearly the future), and a fascinating study of a billion-dollar start-up gone awry.

Sounds complicated, but it’s not. It’s well-written, fast-moving and intense at times. And even though you know the outcome, like the movie Apollo 13 it keeps you riveted with “What comes next?” moments throughout.

Blum did a terrific job talking to all of the players, reviewing the facts, and putting together a must-read book that’s about much more than a single start-up or a single car company’s failure. It about how the world gets changed.

Sandy Schwartz, president of Cox Automotive Group, read a prepublication copy of the book and said this: “Before there was the Leaf, the Volt, the Bolt and even the Tesla, there was Better Place — the first electric-car startup. Using his deep reporting and research skills, Brian Blum brilliantly chronicles the fascinating story of this pioneering company. He makes us understand how difficult disruption is. Few know the real obstacles Better Place encountered. If you love cars and are interested in change, you will be captivated reading this book.”


Peter M. Zollman

Peter M. Zollman brings more than 35 years of media experience to his role as founding principal of the AIM Group / Classified Intelligence Report. He has worked with a wide range of media companies, dot-coms, technology providers and start-ups to develop and expand successful interactive-media services. He is based in Altamonte Springs, Fla., near Orlando.