Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fast Company strikes again and right in the LM Strike Zone.

Reading the April Issue of Fast Company on the way out to Phoenix this morning to look at our newest potential micro-factory site, I was hit by the obvious train coming and going.


p. 58 Often I read the magazine, thinking how little it has to do with the “stuff-making” economy. This time, a friend of mine in the VC industry sent me a quip about Chris Hughes joining General Catalyst, so I am reading the cover article on Hughes (co-founder of Facebook and creator of MyBarackObama), and again, I think, “neat guy, but little to add to Local Motors”. Then on page 97 in the over-flow pages (which often holds the journalistic gems) the train hits me that Hughes and LM are gelling.

“He [Hughes] thinks that Web 2.0 underemphasizes the real world and that businesses trying to tap the technology often miss the main point. His philosophy, he says, is unchanged from his first involvement with Facebook: ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s a [car] company or a campaign; you build around commonality. If it’s real people and real communities, then it’s valuable. Otherwise, it’s just playing around online.’”

Of course the [car] is added ☺, but “Amen, Chris!” When I am next in Brooklyn, let’s have a coffee/tea/Brooklyn-community-drink-of-choice and talk about the Local Motors physical community that is about to grow out of our on-line marketplace and spill into our micro-factories in local communities. In case you missed it, late in 2008, our community designed the most awesome Manhattan car called the Green Apple. Voted “in” by NYC lovers, Built in NYC for NYC lovers, Loved in NYC by NYC lovers.

And Going…

p.72 - This time, I am reading page 72 because it has a tantalizing article entitled, “10 Ways to Jump Start the Auto Business”. No brainer eye-candy for the head local motorhead, right? At first, I am stung that they have ignored our team in this article and gone to others to answer this question, but then I am hit by that all too familiar train once more.

7 out of the 10 Ways they suggest are a perfect reflection of Local Motors ideology and implementation. I guess they did not ignore us after all. Let’s count ‘em up.

1 – Let President Obama Take the Wheel – in this section, policy guidance is the meat and potatoes and John Decicco (senior fellow, Environmental Defense Fund) plugs carbon cap-and-trade adding “it’s an incredible waste for automakers to chase ideas like electric cars. They might be important in the future, but a few years ago, it was ethanol; before that, hydrogen. Current automotive tech can take us pretty far without these unproven technologies.” Welcome to Local Motors.

2 – The iPhone Solution – in this section Dave Bieselin (director of unified communications, Cisco) states “the trick is to motivate people to buy a whole new set of vehicles, the way the iPhone changed the cell-phone market.” Welcome to Local Motors.

3 – Get Sexy – Here XZIBIT (host of MTV’s Pimp My Ride) quips “Look at the Prius. It’s a nerd car. Yeah, you’re being environmentally friendly, but your dating life is gonna suck….Automakers just got $17 Billion. Give me $1 Billion. I’ll turn that shit around.” XZIBIT, we can help you turn that shit around for way less than $1 Billion, but I here ya’ brother. Welcome to Local Motors.

5 – Why Geckos Can’t Solve the Problem - Mike Hughes (chief creative at The Martin Agency, responsible for the “Geico Gecko”) says the soothe, “As powerful as advertising and marketing are, they’re not going to save the American car industry. What the industry needs is a vision. The kind Bill Gates had for software, Steve Jobs has for Apple, and, yes, Henry Ford had for automobiles. Don’t just give us what you think we want; give us what we should want.” A rare admission for a proud creative, but brutally honest. Our community is the keeper of that vision. Welcome to Local Motors.

6 – Respect Dirty Work – In this section, Mike Rowe (Star and Exec Producer of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe) blurts:

“…after 200 Dirty Jobs and five years of unintended social anthropology, I do have a theory regarding our overall relationship with manufacturing.
I believe the majority of people in this country are deeply disconnected from the Americans who still make stuff [OHMIGOD, is this guy great or what?]. Forty years ago, it was easy to buy American. Not just because our stuff was better than theirs. We bought American goods because we actually knew people who were making them. It was a powerful and personal connection that tied us to the products we bought.
The seismic shift from manufacturing to services has not only changed the composition of our gross domestic product, but also changed our national mind-set toward work. We no longer celebrate the way things get made. We are more interested in the way things get bought. In this global economy, we focus only on the finished product, which makes Americans who still make them largely invisible.
Much has been written about the drama between management and organized labor, but the bigger struggle is our dysfunctional relationship with work…”

For a Marine who chose to leave the Ivory Tower to knuckle down in the Jungles of the South Pacific and the Deserts of the Middle East, I bow at the temple of Mike Rowe. You are welcome to Local Motors at any time, any day, no advance warning needed. Please let us know when you are ready to stop being a spokesman for the Ford Trucks.

7 – The Facebook Solution – Here John McElroy (host of Speed Network’s Autoline Detroit) calls for what Local Motors has just done, “Almost 100% of the value created with a new car comes from design and engineering. But 60% to 70% of the time spent on product creation is a waste – you’ve got thousands of people at different companies working on the same problems. I would create an information portal for the entire industry…Imagine combining the best aspects of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. We have to break down those silos and share info. It’s product creation 2.0.” John, we don’t plan to create A-date for Auto enthusiasts looking for love, but it seems neither do you. We have lead our effort with a platform for distributed auto education, and it is here to stay. Welcome to Local Motors.

9 – Bet on Biology – J. Craig Venter (founder and CEO of Synthetic Genomics) reflects on the progress and simple promise of biology,

“I remember auto shows as a little kid…it was all electric cars or cars that got 100 to 200 miles per gallon – these innovation have been around for decades. Yet not much has changed. That’s nto a failure of science; it’s a failure to implement the tools and technology that have been around for a long time.
…Biology can produce any molecule we want, including existing gasoline molecules or diesel or jet fuel. The question is, can it produce the billions of gallons we continually use? We need something that is infinitely scalable, and that is what biology is….
We don’t need radical new technologies to use the tools that come out of biology. We need a push to make it happen.”

Craig, I believe that we are serving as that “push”. Welcome to Local Motors.

I guess all this means that I will renew my subscription to Fast Company.


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