Posts Tagged ‘networks’

A political connection makes for a Better Place

January 21, 2009

Interesting to see that one of this Blog’s earlier discussion points – the Better Place electric car consortium – is back in the local news. 

It turns out former state parlimentarian and ministerial possibility Evan Thornley will be heading up their Australian operations. Of course, this is raising some understandable concerns about conflicts of interest (see this Crikey discussion).

It does make sense that the consortium would go for a post-industrial entrepreneur (Thornley was one of the few Aussie dot-commers to walk away with serious cash from the bubble – he was a founder of Looksmart) and one with political connections.  The Better Place business model is heavily reliant on such infrastructure and personal networks if it is to work.

It remains to be seen whether this furore over conflict of interest might significantly undermine Thornley’s social capital.

Network externalities & electric cars

December 8, 2008

Further to my post of last week about US electric companies potentially boosting the sales of electric cars through bulk orders, the state of Hawaii’s has endorsed a proposal to develop the network of recharging stations necessary for large-scale adoption of the technology.

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Hawaii joins a list of countries and locations reportedly jumping on board, including Israel, Denmark, San Francisco, Renault-Nissan, and Australia (through yet another Macquaire consortium).

The driver of all this is Shai Agassi and his Better Place startup. The firm clearly has a very strong grasp on the need to build partnerships when dealing with products so reliant on network externalities. Put simply, unless consumers can be convinced that shifting to electric vehicles is not a hastle, then most won’t bother. Likewise, until they can be sure there will be enough consumers, most providers of the necessary infrastructure, like “filling stations”, won’t bother either. Better Place is trying to break this impasse. Now let’s just hope they are backing the right technology, and also, are not just building monopoly via technology lock-in.