More on Mission: When Startups Fail (Commentary)

SEP 21 2015 BY TDILLARD 10

Has the EV world lost the ability to read?  We have read countless EV industry reports now of Mission Motorcycles (Electric, whatever) “officially filing for bankruptcy” despite citing the North Jersey report we also cited, that did not confirm Mark Seeger had filed for bankruptcy for Mission Motorcycles.  It said he said he was going to, in a letter to the court.

To review: “As a result, he said, he was putting the company into bankruptcy, although the federal court docket did not show a filing Tuesday afternoon.” 

Does this seem like splitting hairs?  It’s not.  It’s the difference between an actual bankruptcy, and a simple legal maneuver in a nasty lawsuit.

You can be sure that we’re watching closely for that filing, but as yet, it has not been filed.  There is no actual bankruptcy filing.  Of course, Seeger doesn’t have a lawyer, either, according to that story, since he hasn’t paid the firm that represented him.

Shoddy reporting aside, for a very interesting account from March 2014 on the Mission situation, check out this story on American Express: The Winklevoss Syndrome: When Founders are Left Behind. It’s a very interesting account of what seems to be all too common in the EV industry:

Mission Motorcycles’ predicament isn’t that rare. Most of today’s most successful and promising startups aren’t founded by one person alone; they’re built on the ideas and efforts of many individuals. But when a company finally hits the big leagues, not everyone involved in the company’s creation necessarily reaps a payoff. In fact, some co-founders and others involved in the startup phase may feel spurned because they get little or no reward for their contribution while others get payoffs of thousands, millions—or even billions—of dollars.

…and brings to light a bit of the seamy underside of the Mission Seeger vs. Ip story:

“Among other things, Defendant Ip threatened Mr. Seeger with violence in the workplace; he made disparaging and inappropriate personal and professional remarks about other executives and employees; he was unable or unwilling to act professional to interact professionally in business and professional situations, damaging the Company’s reputation and standing with potential investors and other business partners; he failed to contribute to, understand or appreciate the company’s technology and its products such that he was unable to contribute to the business and its strategic goals he failed to assist with and/or fulfill the financing commitments he had made to the Company; and he engaged in other acts of unprofessional behavior.”

Describing the early days of Facebook and other Silicon Valley startup patters, it’s an interesting perspective on what an EV company faces in today’s economy.

Stay tuned.  As we said the other day, it’s not over yet.

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10 Comments on "More on Mission: When Startups Fail (Commentary)"

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It’s worth noting that the bottom paragraph is Mission Motorcycle’s assertion, not a statement of fact.


“Mission Motorcycles’ predicament isn’t that rare. Most of today’s most successful and promising startups…”

Okay, I’m confused. Is Mission a “successful and promising startup”, or is it a failing company on the edge of bankruptcy?

It sounds like big egos can be a problem once a startup gets going. Really smart people don’t always have the best people skills.

The guys with the great ideas often don’t have any money.

But,once the Money People are brought into the equation, they usually want to run (and often ruin) the show.

A good example might be Steve Jobs at Apple. He was shown the door. Then, almost miraculously, he returned from exile to save the Apple from the bean counters.

This thing at Mission sounds a bit like a rumble between motorcycle gangs…

The Steve Jobs reference is a good one but not in the way it was given. Steve Jobs is an example of how Steve (a founder) screwed several of the people who started and built the company with him and his greed led to them getting nothing while he reaped all the rewards.

What a shame that apparently nothing will come of all that effort. The Mission is perhaps the most gorgeous looking bike I have ever seen. Selling both cars and motorcycles works very well for BMW, just saying … hello, Elon, can you hear me …

If there were any advantage to be had, I’m sure Elon Musk would’ve gone for it some time ago, or has plans to in the future. The problem is that motorcycles are already a much smaller market than cars. This is even more true for electric vehicles.

There’s also the fact that, given what’s known of electric motorcycle sales, people don’t want sporty, high performance bikes, they want mundane, practical commuters. That is if you go by what sells. Basically two wheeled Leafs. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t fit with Tesla’s image. At all.

A Mission RS parked next to a Tesla would not look out of place. A Zero or Empulse? That just doesn’t work.

Not true. The SR has replaced the S as Zero’s flagship model to their own surprise. Customers are willing to pay for the extra performance, provided its less than $20,000.

The SR is still a commuter bike, and it looks every bit the part. It just doesn’t have the curb appeal of a Tesla, not even remotely close. People who buy cars like that don’t buy bikes like anything Zero makes.

I’m not saying it’s wrong for Zero to make the bikes that they do, clearly they’re on the right track, but Tesla doesn’t cater to that market, nor would they have anything to gain by doing so.

I has been reported this week that Apple is expected to introduce an electric car into the marketplace sometime in 2019. It could be my imagination, but there sure seems to be a lot of electric cars being planned by manufacturers during the next few years. That is going to become a very saturated market shortly. I wonder if there are gong to be enough customers to keep the EV business strong enough to for manufacturers to make a profit on the vehicles? It might be a very good time for auto mechanics to go back to school and learn how to service and repair the vehicles. It won’t be long before an experienced EV technicians will be in great demand.

In the meantime, the production electric motorcycle market is looking pretty slim right now.