Home > Uncategorized > I want me some STEAM (or: How To Clean Out Your Garage for $100K TODAY)

I want me some STEAM (or: How To Clean Out Your Garage for $100K TODAY)



 

http://www.groupon.com/deals/steam-hot-car-nyc Sorry the image above is squished. I’m not good at screen shots. Sigh.

Although I’ve never bought anything off of Groupon, I have worked with their competitor Lifebooker in a professional capacity. I’m fascinated by Groupon and the ways flash sites create money / potentially destroy value for the companies with which these sites work. The above deal is to rent an exotic car for a half day. After doing some research, this deal stokes my fascination - though not my intent to whip out the amex and purchase. Why? Because its a tale of intrigue, loss and heart break. Srsly. The dude who owns Steam Car Rentals, George Popescuiu, is an entrepreneur who appears to have fallen on some hard times. Popescuiu was a partner at Forex and their firm, BTR, a company that was brought under investigation as (essentially) a Ponzi scheme late last year. You can see SEC filings here. It appears Mr. Popescuiu was the IT director (CTO in fancy VC / Hedge / long and short speak)  at BTR. His other partners have winged it back to Turkey but George has stayed here stateside to face the music. Its certainly possible he did nothing wrong (running IT isn’t quite the same as sliding a rolex off someone’s wrist over $28 cocktails at Nello) but whether he did or did not, what’s certain is George is trying his darndest to stay afloat.

Disclaimer: this is all conjecture. I have not tried to contact George because I have a personal training appointment in a few minutes and then I have to go shopping for coffee tables with my interior decorator. So there’s just NO TIME!

If you check out Steam Exotic Car Rentals you’ll find snazzy pictures of late model Lambos, Ferraris, and Porsches. What they actually rent are four, sorta sad, 5-10 year old versions of the cars pictured. The Porsches are 10 years old and (from reviews) apparently in need of some carpet shampoo. So how did these cars come to be hawked in their twilight years by such a snazzy website? Well, an owner with extensive IT experience probably has a team and the knowledge to put together said snazzy site. And my guess is that ol’ George has got a couple of people left on the payroll with not a lot to do but wait for Daddy P to hit the slammer or bolt for lands far and wide. What to do with their time? Make them customer service reps at a fast-grossing car rental company, of course!

But where-oh-where do we get the cars? Hmmm. Oh I’ve got it! How about…out of Papa G’s garage! Hey, that’s a great idea!

See my theory is Gangsta GP Petroleum had these cars hangin around since the high-flying days when he and his partners longed to be like Madoff – ONLY BETTER – and wanted to monetize his investment (that’s finance talk for “pay the rent with stuff I’ve got lying around such as an exotic car, my wife’s diamonds, or the Cambodian slave we had imported”). So he spit-shines those babies, creates a website with ever-changing prices ($1,000/ day! $2,000 / day! $249 / day!) to project value and then gets them hawked on flash deal sites like Groupon and buywithme. Lots of people buy, a check hits your bank account a week later and BLAM, I can pay my Amex Black bill this month.

Now, of course, when hundreds upon hundreds of people in Boston AND New York rent these cars (I’m sure no one wants the weekend, right? Nah) there are bound to be issues in getting them all scheduled. But no matter, thats something to be sorted out another day, a day in the distant future, a day on which the Amex Black bill is not 10 days overdue.

xx

-B

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  1. Fonzy
    August 30th, 2011 at 01:04 | #1

    Hey..I just came across you post about Steam Car Rentals. As of 8/23/11 the company shut it doors for good. Their website has a “sorry we’re out of business message”. But, thank you for posting your insight. I wish I could’ve came across this earlier.

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