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Now defunct, what took place to downtown startup Shift’s 100 Teslas?


Spencer Burton

Shift CEO Zach Ware says the start-up’s Tesla order actually weakened his objective of bringing car-sharing to downtown Las Vegas.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015|2 a.m.

Then known as Project 100, Shift first made headlines for ordering a large number of Tesla Model S cars.Launch slideshow “

In 2013, downtown Las Vegas car-sharing business SHIFT made news for positioning the biggest U.S. order in Tesla history: 100 Design S luxury sedans.

The plan was to innovate transport downtown, through a web of shared cars: Smart automobiles, Chevy Volts, bikes and, most significantly, the Tesla order, which was covered by media varying from the Las Vegas Weekly to TechCrunch. The network would coincide with the objectives of Shift’s financier, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who was trying to renew the area through a $350 million effort.

Earlier this year, SHIFT closed shop, leaving one, glaring question: What took place to all those Teslas?

A PandoDaily story released previously this month reported the 100 Teslas were never provided. But last year, SHIFT released a widely-circulated picture of Teslas in a downtown parking lot. So exactly what happened?

According to Shift CEO Zach Ware, the company in fact did get one delivery of Teslas. The strategy had always been to receive the cars in phases, Ware said. The very first wave, of 10 to 20 Teslas, arrived in June of in 2014.

Click to enlarge photo

Then called Project 100, Shift first made headlines for purchasing a a great deal of Tesla Model S cars.

“As our technique progressed and eventually resulted in the unwind of the business … we canceled the staying rides on our [Tesla] order,” Ware wrote in an e-mail.

Ware stated the Teslas that had actually already been delivered were sold to a variety of buyers.

Expectations versus reality

Shift set itself a bold goal: Bring car-sharing to downtown Las Vegas– and make the face of the project Teslas, a much higher-end car than those utilized in other cities with similar programs.

Somewhere along the way, the prospect of 100 Teslas concerned eclipse the company’s bigger objective and became its only external yardstick for success, Ware stated.

“The lesson I discovered as a creator was to focus first on developing a product that individuals will like and let the press coverage follow,” Ware said in the email. “Due to the fact that the Tesla story was so big, it’s what everyone in the media determined our success by.”

Raising expectations that there would be 100 Teslas, Ware said, undermined the company’s capability to highlight other, simply as crucial, successes, such as a 24/7 reservation system it created and advanced in-car control systems.

“It got us a lot of press and it was really intoxicating,” Ware said in a follow-up phone interview. “When you put whole playbook on table, you certainly need to pursue that playbook.”

Downtown ties

The closure of Shift, which at one point appeared to be among downtown’s most appealing– and useful– startups, has been considered by lots of, including the 7,000-word PandoDaily story, as another failure in a long line of now-defunct downtown ventures. (The most popular of those is Factorli, a making business admired by President Barack Obama simply months before stopping operations late last summer season.)

Ware states Shift was not associated with the Downtown Job which Hsieh made a personal financial investment in Shift different from the $350 million he invested in the Downtown Task.

However the line in between Shift and the Downtown Job starts to blur when you think about how Hsieh explained the two.

In a memo last fall, Hsieh explained the Downtown Project as a collection of entities and consisted of Shift as an example of a company where DTP was an investor or co-owner.

With the $350 million investment now paid out in real estate, companies and a tech fund, it’s frequently tough to tease out where the Downtown Task’s influence starts and ends. Part of this comes from the high expectations that had attempting to revitalize an entire downtown.

Mark Rowland, CEO of Downtown Job Ventures, DTP’s investment arm, acknowledged in a recent interview that some expectations were probably too positive. The preliminary buzz around DTP cut both methods because, just like exactly what occurred with Shift, it produced the enjoyment needed to launch the project while likewise forcing DTP to deliver on a number of splashy objectives.

“To believe that it would be done in 3 years was probably wishful thinking,” Rowland stated. “However definitely, I’ve got no issue with people having that as a goal and seeing exactly what occurs when you really charge people with that task. I believe if you just stated, ‘This is a 20-year task,’ you might not have seen a great deal of the activity and undertaking that really entered into the first 3 years of the Downtown Task.”