For the past 7 years I have dreamed about that headline, dreamed about the promise and, well, it's still just a dream. To fully understand you have to transport yourself back to 2004.... transporting....
In 2004 iMagicLab was iCarMagic (until the good folks at i-car.com got a little testy) and we were the golden boys of Internet Lead Management. Our first customer was Rafi Hamid at the Napleton Auto Group (who are still customers) and some of their stores used the Cadillac of CRM's at the time: Higher Gear. Now Higher Gear, or HigherGear or The Higher Gear Group or whatever they are called, had no Internet lead capacity to speak of. They were, and are to the best of my knowledge, server based and brilliantly designed to monitor the showroom with ease. Higher Gear in my estimation didn't (and doesn't today) do anything else but the showroom floor well, but at the time they were the best in town. So I, being the enterprising mind, sent their CEO Robert C. Gruen an email that said, and I am paraphrasing here, "lets work together and merge our ILM with your CRM to rule the World!". Well after feigning interest for a bit to both Rafi and I, Gruen sends an email which kills the integration and announces he has a "web based system in beta". Has anyone seen it yet? Sorry, I digress
So lots of time passes, iMagicLab builds the strongest CRM technology on the planet, completely web-based and Internet/Service/Pencil enabled and we literally convert Higher Gear clients at will. 2010 relegates Higher Gear and AutoBase to the old guard (pioneers none the less) and companies like iMagicLab, VIN Solutions and DealerSocket take the mantel. There is really no contest here, iMagicLab and DealerSocket compete for every deal while VIN, well, VIN, um, help me lawyers, well, VIN kinda is creative in its outright lies (with Doug Kinney gone maybe Sean Wolfington will bring honor back).
With this background I see a press release, pinged to me from my old friend Troy Smock over at izmo cars, that Higher Gear has just received an investment from a VC. Yes, you heard that right, an "investment" from a VC. After reading this I instantly have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and email the VC "what are you thinking?". OK, bad move, I apologize and move on.
My next email is to my old friend Robert C. Gruen who is the newly installed CEO of the company he founded (how does that work?). I say "Robert, let's get busy: your client list with our technology and we own the market". I can feel the dealers collectively sing a joyous hymn while they throw out the old and move into THIS century's technology. Oh, it will be win/win/win/win and even the VC will be happy.
Um, No, you kidding? Here's the response I get: "your technology SUCKS" hahahahaha
I could go on to tell you the rest of the email exchange but besides calling me a criminal and scum bag many times in his best Blagovich impression (with bad grammar I might add) its not worthy of much. I, of course, ended up challenging him to a CRM Bake Off for $50,000 and the line went dead.
However many dealers they still have in their declining roster are out of luck for now... My dream is not dead though, I just have to wait another 7 years or until the beta Higher Gear promised us in 2004 gets released: Whichever comes first (bet on the 7 years)