Feb 11 2009

Syndication fail, FrugalMechanic & Amazon’s exhaust fan

<rant>

I quickly admit I have a massive chip on my shoulder about Techcrunch….which is why I read it every day of course..  Why the chip?  Hmmm, I launched a video sharing site 9 months ahead of YouTube who copied us screen by screen, and a white label video site 12 months ahead of Brightcove. Neither of which was worth reporting by his Royal highness Mike Arrington. When we exchanged emails about it in 2005 I think he said in an email to me “Oh, you’re in Georgia and who are you funded by?  No one?  Yup don’t care”  Sure we haven’t gone on to YouTube success (because we actually tried to respect people’s copyrights) But we didn’t exactly experience Revver failure either which has had massive amounts of exposure on Techcrunch. So I guess I should be at peace that Techcrunch actually doesn’t matter after all. Fuck’em I’ve got over 7Mmu anyways.

So why did I post an “exhaust fan” and go on a Techcrunch rant?  Because Techcrunch has finally reported on an automotive start-up! (gasp! those NorCal hippies know there is an automotive community afterall).  Well Congrats to the FrugalMechanic crew.  You’re about 12 months behind Digital Performance. But competition improves the breed so I wish them luck (PS I have no affiliation with DPI other than a shared snubbing by Techcrunch apparently)…..okay, calming down now, its not FrugalMechanic’s fault that Arrington is a snob and I do actually wish them well.

</rant>

So I check out FM, cool looking design.  Super Nintendo logo might need some work, but I dig the big clear calls to action.  So I look for something to fit my 2009 Nissan GT-R….and there is nothing there.  Okay, maybe too specialized, so I’ll look for an old car I had, my ubiquitous 1998 LS1 Trans Am.  I enter in 1998 Firebird scan the results, instantly chuckle that they’re offering me distributor caps for a car that hasn’t sported a distributor since optispark killed it in 1993.  Okay, I’ll cut them some slack, try something easy like cat-back exhaust…..arguably one of the most basic modifications you can make, what do I get?

…Some amazon syndication fail…..Wow, Looks like Edelbrock is making a whole new cat-back based on radiator fans.  Now in FM’s defense, this is Amazon’s fault.  Crap in = Crap out.  Boy do I ever know that, you should see our video moderation que some time.  But this just illustrates the huge challenge that FM and DPI are both facing.  Forget millions of parts, you have millions of applications.  In 1992 there were 6, yes no-shit 6 V8 engines available in the Firebird.  Don’t believe me?

  • 5.0L TBI V8 M5/A4
  • 5.0L TPI V8 A4 (single cat)
  • 5.0L TPI V8 HO M5 (dual cat)
  • 5.7L TPI V8 A4 (dual cat)
  • 5.7L TPI V8 M6 – Firehawk
  • 5.7L TPI V8 M6 – Aluminum block Firehawk

And yes the two Firehawks were stock cars, not “tuner cars” as you could buy them under RPO B4U, just like you could get RPO 1LE or RPO WS6.  Now to make this even more of a PIA, those 6 V8s were only available under some, but not other trims.  for example you couldn’t get a manual 5.0L TPI V8 or 5.7L in a convertible Trans Am, but you could get a M5 5.0L TBI V8 in a convertible Firebird.  You really have to have an educated consumer to choose something as simple as a cat-back that is a proper application, and the multi-threaded hell of what parts fit on what makes, models and trims is a huge problem that some smart people are trying to figure out.

The good news is, I spend a fair amount of time with SEMA and their member companies and they recognize the problem and need to fix it, especially since it’s a $38B/year industry that can’t lead gen for this very reason despite the fact that most people are researching and buying their parts online.

I have a fairly janky solution to this whole mess that I think would work quite well, but I’ll wait till I have the patent cleared before I open up on that one ;-)

PS, I am happy to see that Amazon and I agree that the best way to upgrade the computer in your car is to slap in a carbureted V8…..Got to love those Data entry interns,