MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) – The creators of the security robots now patrolling the Silicon Valley say they are moving on after a previous high-profile business failure that resulted in bankruptcy, disappointed investors, and dashed hope for a depressed Indiana town.
Back in 2009, William Santana Li, the CEO of Knightscope in Mountain View was the CEO of Carbon Motors; a car company that was building the specially-equipped police car of the future called the “E7.”
Here’s one of the many headlines generated by the 2009 for the E7. The vehicle was even featured in a video game.
Carbon Motors held a big ceremony in Connersville, Indiana heralding the refurbished car plant that would build E7s and provide thousands of jobs to the locals.
William Santana Li appeared in this video in July, 2009 excitedly announcing the news about the plant.
But then, in 2012, following the Solyndra scandal, the U.S. Department of Energy began pulling back on promised loans. The DOE Secretary denied a $335 million loan to Carbon Motors as part of a green cars initiative; effectively killing the company.
Carbon Motors eventually filed bankruptcy. The jobs at the Indiana plant were killed. Creditors lost money.
WISH-TV ran a March 7, 2012 story about the disappointing news of Carbon Motors’ demise.
Today, I asked Knightscope CEO, William Santana Li, his thoughts about his highly public failed business venture. He emailed me this statement:
• I was born in NYC and someone hit my town on 9/11. I am dedicating the rest of my life’s work to better secure or country – no matter what.
• We spent 10 years and 3 months of our lives on Carbon Motors and the full weight of responsibility for the failure lies on the shoulders of numerous mid-level bureaucrats in the federal government and more specifically the U.S. Department of Energy – whose profound failings have been more than widely reported.
• This is a very old story from nearly 4 years ago. We tried for 13 months to fix the mess the federal government created to no avail – and each and every investor heard from us personally. The liquidation of the company already occurred some time ago – and everyone knows, including the Governor of Indiana, to the bone, that we tried everything to make it work.
We are proud of what we tried to do. Our own government sucker punched us, but we have gotten ourselves back up, dusted ourselves off and are back in the ring. Time to move on.