Reading about MNLARS – the state’s drivers license, registration and titling system – is making me nostalgic.
Back in 1996-97, I worked for a company that was engaged to do the engineering for a big, extremely well-funded startup in Palo Alto, run by a former salesman from IBM. The company’s business model: pay people to read spam. The theory was, people would set up accounts, and then get a little bit of the ad buy money for clicking on ads, and links in spam emails.
Catering to greed, of course, is never a bad business model. But by the time I left the company, we were figuring that someone clicking on six ads a minute, 8 hours a day, might make $6-8.
I wound up leaving – and was delighted to read in PC Magazine that the project had made their “Ten Dumbest Ideas of 2007” poll. By this time, I the company had folded, taking $30 million in investor funding with it (along with, I was less delighted to learn, the company that I’d worked for).
Remember when $30 million on a bad idea seemed like a lot of money?
If that’d been a government project…
The Minnesota taxpayer has spent close to $100 million on the MNLARS system – half up front, leading to a spectacular failure, and half for a “fix” that failed even worse.
And now Governor Walz wants to double down on the failure:
Walz released a budget this week that includes $94 million through 2021 to finish the system known as MNLARS, operate it for two years, hire staff, and reimburse deputy registrars who took a financial hit from the botched 2017 rollout. That’s on top of $15.7 million in stopgap funding that Walz was already seeking to get the system through June 30.Via Fox9
To pay for some of the costs, Walz has proposed a $2 fee every time a driver makes a vehicle license, tab or title transaction.
Fearless prediction; we’ll end up spending $400 million, and end up doing the whole thing in Google Drive spreadsheets.