June 04, 2009

The Rumors Are True - I Bought Robert Scoble's BMW

What Was Once Scoble's... Is Now Mine

I don't consider myself a car person - and on both occasions where I have had to replace my car, it has been only after a mechanical problem's repair costs look to far outstrip the true value of the vehicle. That was true in 1999 when I returned my used 1991 Ford Escort GT, picking up a used 1998 Mercury Tracer, and true again this week, as I leave the Tracer behind, trading up to a used 2006 BMW 325i. The Tracer, with more than 140,000 miles on it, has served me well for a decade, but with its transmission toast, it was time to let go.

But, as with most things we've discussed on the blog over the last couple years, we turned to the Web to solve our issue, when it presented itself, starting back on March 28th.

Upon hearing I needed to pay upwards of $4,000 to fix my broken Tracer, my tendency would be to walk down the street to the nearest dealer and find something, anything to replace it. But instead, this time, I posted a note to FriendFeed, explaining the situation, and asking the vibrant community for feedback. In the discussion, seeing more than 80 comments, I explained I wanted to be more like my peers in Silicon Valley, but honestly didn't want to go in debt for the privilege.

In the middle of our back and forth, Robert Scoble swooped in with an offer I had to pay attention to. He posted, "Louis: we are selling our 2006 BMW 325i with 56,000 miles. Make me an offer. Well maintained and fun to drive."

The "New to Me" BMW Safely In Our Parking Lot

56,000 miles sounded a bit high, but considering Robert's visibility, it'd be bad for him to pass along a lemon. I was definitely interested. In April, I saw the car at an tech meet-up in Mountain View, and was even more convinced it was the right way to go, even after independently looking at alternatives throughout the Bay Area, to see if I could get a newer, better, car for the price Robert was offering.

In the meantime, Robert and I said we would target the end of May for a purchase. He was awaiting the delivery of a new Toyota Prius, and on Monday, it arrived. This put everything in motion, so on Tuesday night, we packed up the twins, headed to Half Moon Bay, and made the deal. Now, the car that was once Robert's is now mine (assuming my check clears the bank, and I have no concerns).

By Friday, a charity will come pick up my Tracer, and give me a tax deduction of a mere $500.

The Obama/Biden Sticker is From Robert. Should I Ditch It?

That I bought my BMW from Robert instead of a random car salesman or third party advertiser on Craigslist, eBay or the San Jose Mercury News speaks volumes in terms of how we can leverage our connections forged online. Though I've grown to know Robert well over the last few years, I learned of him through blogging, and he found out of my situation using FriendFeed. Much of our discussion about the transaction has been public, in fact, leading from the first offer, to his later posting, on April 15 that he was still planning to sell it to me.

Robert is happy that he has his new Prius, and no doubt happy he was able to pass along his car that he enjoyed to a good friend. Our family is happy because we managed to find a respectable, nice car without having to sell one of our kids or mortgage their future. And both of us are no doubt happy that we used the social networks we both have been promoting for years. Unfortunately for me, the BMW doesn't have any aftermarket enhancements that tap into the real-time Web. I was hoping Robert would have made the car one of a kind. But it's still a great deal and I'm glad I could leverage the Social part of the Social Web to get it done.