Sept 10 2020 - Nikola: How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership - Part 4

It’s unclear whether Trevor actually became a millionaire two years after founding his first business, but he had already allegedly burned a business partner and the acquirer of that business.

July 2009: Trevor Launched uPillar.com, a Website He Claimed Had 80 Million Monthly Active Users, Invented the Online Shopping Cart and Was Beating Amazon

Former Employee: 80 Million Users Claim is “Absurd”. uPillar Was a Failed Craigslist/eBay Clone and The Shopping Cart Was Invented in 1994

Trevor’s account of his rise in the business world follows the “ million” alarm company sale with claims he reinvested the money from the alarm company into uPillar.com, a website he launched in July 2009. The site offered free classified ads and monetized by charging car dealers to sell used cars online.

(Pictured: Scan of Trevor Milton uPillar business card from former employee)

These days in interviews, Trevor describes uPillar as a rapidly growing company that was beating Amazon and eBay:

“[It was] way ahead of its time actually…we were beating Amazon at what they were doing.

We had the first ever shopping cart in history. No one else had ever developed a shopping cart to buy 50 items from 50 different sellers, checkout at one time…the first group in the world to really do that. We beat Amazon, we beat eBay…”

“Ultimately we would have ended up being Amazon but we were in Utah and at the time Utah had no clue what investment was around the internet. So, we just grew too fast and that was a lesson for me at that time was not to grow too fast.”

In a recent interview with Forbes, Trevor claimed uPillar had 80 million monthly users. Websites at the time describe uPillar as “only reporting on average around 200k monthly visits” and as spending big on advertising to get a temporary bump, then watching its usage subsequently tank.

We spoke with a former employee who called the claim of 80 million monthly users “absurd”. They said of the site:

“Much of our time was spent approving classified postings. We were always able to keep up with it, with only a few of us approving them.” (Because of the low traffic).

“Many of the ads were posted by scammers from overseas, so we constantly rooted those out by identifying I.P. addresses.”

“The website failed to deliver a product to rival eBay. Our mass uploader feature was supposed to be able to compete with eBay, and we were trying to deliver it to customers before eBay raised its listing fees, but we weren’t able to. Many users weren’t able to move their storefronts from eBay, because our website couldn’t facilitate the mass product info. Users were stuck using eBay.”

The former employee also told us:

“Amazon was not talked about a competitor…eBay and Autotrader were.”

For reference, uPillar launched in 2009. It did not have the first shopping cart, and it was not beating Amazon. The first online shopping carts were used in 1994, the same year Amazon was founded. By then, Google had processed almost 800 billion searches, and the iPhone had been in existence for 2 years. Amazon had existed for 15 years and reported over .6 billion in general eCommerce sales excluding books.

Disclosure: We are short shares of Nikola Corp (NASDAQ:NKLA)

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[1] Additional sources [1,2] put the cost of hydrogen production for vehicles at .63/kg and .51/kg. Costs are coming down. A 2011 DoE report states that at /kg hydrogen would reach parity with fossil fuels. Recent reports by industry sources, including the Hydrogen Council and Shell and by investment groups including Goldman Sachs and Kepler Cheuvreux, envision hydrogen coming down 50% over the next 5-10 years. That all being said, it hasn’t happened yet, and Nikola appears to have done nothing to advance the process despite its claims to have already achieved breakthrough levels.

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Sept 15 2020- US justice department inquires into Nikola fraud claims

Sept 10 2020 - Nikola: How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership - Part 1

Sept 10 2020 - Nikola: How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership - Part 3

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Aug 12 2020- Nikola: Riding The Industry Hype

Sept 10 2020 - Nikola: How to Parlay An Ocean of Lies Into a Partnership - Part 2

July 27 2020 - Nikola Drops To New Lows After Public Float Almost Quintuples

Mar 4 2020 - Piggybacking The Tesla Hype

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