better place

Electric Car Tech Company Better Place Hits The Deadpool, As The Greentech Shakeout Continues

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Better Place, the Tel Aviv- and based electric car battery technology company that’s raised more than $800 million in venture capital funding since its 2007 inception, confirmed today that it has filed a court motion to dissolve and liquidate the company after attempts to raise more funds fizzled. The impending bankruptcy was first reported by Fortune’s Dan Primack last week.

The official announcement from Better Place came just after its majority shareholder, Israeli conglomerate Israel Corp., announced its decision “not to participate in the investment round offered by Better Place to its investors” adding that a liquidation application would soon be filed “since there were no investors who were willing to participate in a substantial amount in an additional investment round in Better Place.”

It’s a hugely disappointing end for the company, which was for some time perceived as a big player in the global green technology movement as well as a darling of its local Israeli startup scene. But ultimately, Better Place’s vision did not square away with reality. Better Place’s struggles started to become clear over the past year in particular, notably in October 2012, when its charismatic founder Shai Agassi was removed as CEO. At that time, TechCrunch’s John Biggs wrote a pithy overview of Better Place’s early hype and ensuing struggles:

“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.”

Better Place is just the latest casualty in the ongoing shakeout of greentech startups that emerged to much enthusiasm — and often huge funding rounds — in the mid- to late- aughts but are now hitting hard times or closing altogether. Venture capital firms such as Kleiner Perkins that had invested significant resources in the greentech wave just a few years back are now changing course.

But the good news of shakeouts is that along with the many losers, there are winners too — where Fisker Automotive has stumbled, Tesla Motors has soared. Energy efficiency and battery technology is as important as ever, but it seems that Better Place just didn’t have what it takes to win in the end.