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Better Place Board Quietly Removes CEO Shai Agassi, Places Evan Thornley At Helm

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The board of switchable battery makers Better Place have quietly removed CEO Shai Agassi and replaced him with Better Place Australia CEO Evan Thornley. According to an October 2nd article in Globes.Co.Il, the company lost $490 million since its founding in 2007. They raised multiple rounds including a $350 million round in 2010.

“Under Shai’s leadership, we’ve successfully achieved our goals in the first chapter of Better Place, and we owe Shai our gratitude for turning his powerful vision into a reality,” said Idan Ofer, chairman of Better Place.

The company came to prominence first as a unique solution for electric vehicles then as a darling of the Israeli tech scene. The company planned to offer switchable batteries at stations across various countries. When drivers ran out of juice they’d simply swap out the battery and keep driving. However, the technology and infrastructure have taken years to map out and, while Agassi was hailed as a forefather of Israel’s “economic miracle”, the company has done little in the way of actual implementation and delivery.

The new founder, a well-known Australian entrepreneur and politician, comes to the lead after running Better Place Australia. “Evan has been the CEO of Better Place Australia and part of the senior global management team for the past four years, is a former McKinsey consultant, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, and member of the Victorian Parliament in Australia,” a company spokesperson wrote. The company recently placed its batteries in one Renault model.

The company spokesperson noted that it has “500 customers in Israel, 250 in Denmark, and another 70 in Australia.”

Agassi wrote in a letter to employees that “this physical network will realize the dream of taking countries and the world off their dependency on oil.”

“This month, five years ago, we announced in New York the formation of Better Place. At the time, we were viewed as an audacious plan that was mocked by most people in the industry. Today we are no longer a plan, but a reality – one that drives millions of miles on the roads of two countries.
“The next chapter in this historic book written at Better Place I leave for you, dear people full of drive, to write on your own.