Auto retail industry veterans Georg Bauer and Scott Painter are planning a bundled car subscription service and have renamed their latest venture, the fintech and insurtech vehicle subscription platform NextCar/NXCR, in a bid to develop a global brand. The company has acquired the Autonomy brand and IP library from Micro Focus, which it intends to leverage to build a worldwide market for its mobility offerings.
The pair announced a soft launch of what was then called NextCar/NXCR via a beta-test website earlier this year offering a “sneak peek” at a new car subscription service which would enable consumers to “skip the soul-crushing car loans and still get where you're going”.
Painter and Bauer previously collaborated on the launch of Fair, a used-car leasing company which introduced consumers to the concept of buying a vehicle via a phone app. The idea behind NextCar/NXCR is to create a turnkey vehicle subscription platform for the automotive industry that enables vehicle subscriptions to scale profitably and become a mainstream alternative to traditional car buying.
The platform will allow dealers and manufacturers to provide information, alongside subscription and insurance offerings so that the consumer has an affordable, convenient and simple way to access mobility, rather than having to negotiate a car’s price and then sort out how to pay for it.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Business Journal, Painter explained: “We do not want people to get a car and then move on. We want them to be a subscriber for life and as their needs change. As they move from different cities, they can change out their car. If they start a family, they can get a vehicle that’s more appropriate. If they want to get something for the winter or the summer, they have that level of flexibility.”
New name, new venture
NextCar/NXCR’s acquisition of Autonomy includes the primary global domain, Autonomy.com, along with a family of country and subdomain extensions as well as trademark applications, awards, goodwill, and related IP.
“Autonomy, which stands for freedom, is more meaningful post-pandemic. Mobility is at the core of what makes us feel free, so access to it should be flexible, easy, and affordable,” said Painter, co-founder and CEO of NextCar.
“Customer acquisition cost is one of the critical factors in determining the success of any business. Going to market with a compelling brand that people can relate to in tandem with a magical product and consumer experience creates a moat for any business and is the foundation for scaling this business profitably,” added Painter.
“Easy and affordable access to mobility is a challenge for consumers everywhere,” said Bauer, co-founder and president of NextCar. “The ability to immediately become a global brand through our acquisition of an entire IP library that is inclusive of assets in over a dozen countries is an incredibly valuable strategic asset. We believe Autonomy will be a pivotal financial and insurance innovation through which consumers get access to a vehicle.”
Painter has been at the forefront of the digital revolution in the automotive sector, and has founded a string of automotive technology and fintech brands that have found mass appeal with in-market car shoppers. Each of these brands represents innovations that have advanced how consumers and dealers go to market, while easing the friction in the auto retail and auto finance experience. Painter founded CarsDirect.com (now Internet Brands); TrueCar (Nadaq traded) Fair, which pioneered used-vehicle subscriptions and; and now Autonomy.
For his part, co-founder Bauer is widely considered one of the architects of modern vehicle leasing. He was the founding CFO and later CEO of Mercedes-Benz Credit Corporation and subsequently led the expansion of BMW Financial Services globally. He was also responsible for building Tesla’s financial services business in Europe and Asia in support of the launch of the Model S. Prior to co-founding Autonomy, Bauer partnered with Painter to co-found Fair.
Autonomy was originally founded in UK in 1996 by Mike Lynch as a Cambridge University spin off specialising in enterprise content software and the structured analysis of big data. It grew to become a FTSE 250 company and a significant player in the UK software industry, making a number of acquisitions in both the UK and the US.
In 2011 Autonomy was itself bought by US tech giant Hewlett-Packard (HP), in a $11 billion deal which has since become mired in controversy. In November 2012 HP announced that it was taking an $8.8 billion accounting charge on the transaction and raised a series of allegations that Lynch and other executives fraudulently inflated the value of Autonomy before the sale. There were also concerns its approach towards revenue recognition of sales via its resellers.
Lynch and Autonomy’s former finance director have faced criminal and civil legal challenges in the US and UK courts, with the finance director given a five-year jail sentence in the US. Lynch is currently facing potential extradition to the US to face charges of conspiracy and fraud. He has always strongly refuted HP’s claims, saying the US company used the allegations to cover up its own mismanagement of Autonomy after the 2011 deal.
In 2017, most of the elements of Autonomy company were acquired by Micro Focus, which has been looking to sell the company on for some time.