1616: Michael Granoff

Michael Granoff is an investor in mobility and energy companies. He subscribed to FoT in November 2014.

1) What change do you want to see in the world of mobility by the end of 2016?

By the end of 2016, I would like to see everyone who has come to understand the transformative potential of autonomous mobility to commit to jointly educate and inspire the public and policymakers.

The revolution will change all of our lives for the better. A world without the scourge of traffic accidents — and most especially the fatalities they create — is within reach. This new world will also vastly reduce vehicular congestion, emissions, oil dependence, the frustrations of urban parking and much more. But there will be losers. And some of the industries on the short end of that stick have enormous resources — and a lot of experience at manipulating the public and slowing threatening innovations.

The gains to be had from autonomous transport are far too important to be stifled by such special interests. But to succeed, the public interest — and that of those on the vanguard of this new industry — must be forcefully asserted. That comes with helping a skeptical public to cut through misperceptions and understand precisely what giving up the wheel means to them: Safer, more reliable, less expensive, more convenient, more versatile mobility.

One of the challenges will be that some of the largest entrants in the new mobility world have an understandable penchant for confidentiality. They should be persuaded that, without tipping their hand to specific future business directions, they can help to educate the public in a way that will inure to their benefit and the speedier growth of the industry.

Yes, the marketplace will be the ultimate arbiter of how quickly autonomous transport is adopted. But in such a highly complex and regulated industry, speed to market will be measured not just by technology and economics. It will be highly impacted by public perception — and ensuing regulatory action. And it is up to all of us who see the potential to vividly enforce to the public — hope, not fear!

2) If you had to drop everything right now and build something that had the greatest impact on mobility, what would it be?

The guiding lights to the biggest and fastest impact on mobility are safety, cost, convenience and incumbent infrastructure. The biggest impact will come from a system — a network — that provides mobility services to the public. In the last few years we have witnessed elements of such a system. Uber has pioneered the user interface for on-demand transportation. Google has previewed how a truly driverless vehicle will function. Daimler has prototyped some of the passenger experience possibilities opened up by autonomy. Tesla has showed us that — far from constraining — dedication to electric drive can be a liberating direction. And innumerable startups have contributed, and will continue to contribute, pieces to the puzzle, from mapping to vision to software. It will be the acceleration of all of these elements and more that will bring us to the transformed world of 21st century mobility. The greatest impact on mobility will be the integration of these elements in the coming years.

Building the mechanisms to enable cross-collaboration and integration of these elements will be essential to speeding the deployment of autonomous vehicles. This might come through a trade organization or in some other format. It may be best to incorporate into the effort to educate the public and policymakers — or not. But just as the chaos that resulted in the creation of the internet had to have some layers of rulemaking and management, so too will this revolution.

Michael Granoff Bio
Michael Granoff is principal at Maniv Mobility which funds and advises early-stage companies with enabling technology related to the coming age of autonomous transportation. Maniv Mobility, Maniv Energy Capital and Maniv Bioventures are subsidiaries of Maniv Investments, which Granoff founded in 1997.
Maniv Bioventures seeded 10 life science companies including Metabolix (NASD: MBLX) and Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (NASD: IRWD). Maniv Energy Capital helped establish the $150 million Israel Cleantech Ventures, and Mr. Granoff serves on its advisory board. Maniv was the first investor committed to Better Place, the electric car network company, and Mr. Granoff served in several operational roles as well as on its Board of Directors.
In 2004 Mr. Granoff helped establish the Washington, DC-based policy development and advocacy organization Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) and continues to serve on its board. With a broad coalition of corporate and retired military leaders, SAFE has played a leading role in energy security policy for the United States.
Mr. Granoff served in two US Presidential campaigns, several political organizations, and on the boards of half a dozen non-profit institutions. In 2010 Mr. Granoff was awarded the Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship from the Brandeis University International School of Business. He holds a B.A. from Tufts University, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a J.D. from Northwestern School of Law and has completed more than 20 marathons.
Along with his wife, he has four school-aged children. Mr. Granoff currently divides his time between Israel and the Greater New York area.

1616 is a compendium of ideas from 16 FoT subscribers about our near-term mobility future. You can read all 16 entries here; you can sign up for FoT here.