Some time ago (well, technically July, 2014), CNBC published an article on Antoine Dominic – a Sri Lankan tech CEO turned luxury car dealer – and his $4 million Lamborghini Veneno. As the article says, Lamborghini didn’t just built this car for anybody – they hand-picked three buyers; Dominic, an investor from Florida, another client from the Middle East – and straight-up demanded $4 million for a car they hadn’t even made yet.
Dominic, a former CEO of Excel Technology and now the owner of the Bespoke Motor Group, lucked out. Not only did he have the gut to throw in $4 million after what might just have been a pipe dream: he also got the car, a beautiful 740-hp V12 monster that looks like something Micheal Bay might want to feature as a Decepticon in his next Transformers movie.
Reactions from Sri Lanka were pretty fun to watch. They range from motorheads going “Wow” to the usual it’s-not-even-practical random dudes on Facebook sharing it saying “Proud to be a Sri Lankan.” I never really got that last one, buy the way. Random rich dude (who I don’t know) buys a car (that I can’t afford): that happens all the time.
In the interests of random knowledge, let’s examine the man: who is this Sri Lankan?
Antoine Dominic doesn’t show up on LinkedIn; there’s a profile saying “ceo at bespoke motor group”, but that’s just a half-hearted attempt. His share of the limelight – if Business Week is to be believed – is long and complex. Equipped with a B.S. in accounting and an MBA, he served as Chief Financial Officer of Quanta Systems Corporation between 1987 and 1990. Qaunta was a division of CompuDyne Corporation ; Dominic apparently moved up the ladder, and between 1992 and 1995 he was a Director, Executive VP and the CFO of Compudyne.
Then there was Excel Technology, a company established in 1985 in the U.S. by an Indian physicist in a game. Their business? Producing the world’s first tunable Ti: Sapphire laser. That’s not the kind of stuff that makes headlines on Engadget, but rather, it’s the sort of things hospitals and equipment manufacturers pay big bucks for. By 1991 the company had raised $3.6 million and had an IPO, and in 1992 they bought Quantronix, which was losing money. Quantronix was an old company: they’d been around since 1967, in the laser business, and has acquisitions of its own. They had over 200 employees: Excel has only a dozen.
This is where the histories merge. J Donald Hilll, then head of Quantronix, was made the CEO of Excel in 1996 when Rama Rao and his wife stepped down from the company. Antoine Dominic had joined as CFO in 1995. He would later become the COO and President of Excel, and when Hill became the Chairman of the company, it was Dominic who took the seat of the CEO.
Quite a long history of management there.
Fast forward a few years. Dominic sold Excel, intending to ease into early retirement and enjoy his collection of exotic sports cars. But then he was given and offer for a Bentley store in New York. There’s a great article on Autonews on how he grew this one store into a whole group selling Lamborghinis, Bentleys and Rolls-Royces: I needn’t repeat that here.
The car that made the headlines and projected Antoine Dominic into my attention is called the Lamborghini Veneno. No, it’s never been on Top Gear; there’s only 3 in the world. It’s the most expensive production car in the world, surpassing even the wildest dreams of Kanye West. It was based on the Aventador: it’s got a 7-speed gearbox, a V12 engine from the Aventador; it brings to the road a top speed of 355 kmph, a 0-100 kmph time of 2.9 seconds. Basically, it’s a load of very impressive numbers encased in a gorgeous body. There was one colored red, the other green, and another white – the three colors of the Italian flag.
Obviously, you can’t get famous for something like this without someone getting mad about it, so here are the collective thoughts of ‘the people’:
I am seriously curious how much it would cost to insure such a car. I’m guessing you can’t just go down to your neighborhood State Farm agent.
Max Geiger would have approved. Any car getting less than 10mpg is a mobile musical instrument, e.g. a 1955 Dodge Sierra.
For the lucky folk with more money than brains. A huge waste of horsepower on the American roads and in an urban setting an accident waiting to happen.
Freaking obscene. The VW bug was a PEOPLE’S CAR — a long, LONG ways from $4M assh*le’s car.
< insert someone wishing Antoine dead >
Looks like a movie prop car from Batman. Pass.
(and in response to that: Pass? Like there’s another option? )
Even if I could afford a 4 million dollar car hell would freeze over before I bought it. You don’t go on the highway with it. If you took your lady out to dinner were do you park it. Even at night at home were do you park it? Do you have a special vault garage to park it in.
220 mph top speed. Great. Now, where, other than a race track, are you going to drive it at anywhere approaching its top speed? Even at 110 mph, the cops will zap you. (And they get really irate when anyone is going over 90 or 100.)
Normally a car gets one from Point A to Point B. This guy has a $ 4 million “thing” that he doesn’t even drive. Probably should have invested in art instead, since it just sits in the showroom.
These people can’t afford to pay their employees more?
> Because people who have disposable income buy stuff, they are customers with money (consumers), and it is they, not rich people, who actually create and sustain jobs. As the poor get ever poorer, and the middle class disintegrates, fewer people can afford to buy anything other than necessities, and because of that, jobs disappear, making most everyone even poorer.
> > Yeah, he, a millionaire, just bought a car from another millionaire. Keeping the money in the family of the 1 percent I guess. Bet the employees of the car company (the normal ones that is) have to borrow money to buy their own cars (Fords, etc.).
>>>Probably so, and something that Henry Ford I understood all too well. He hiked his workers’ pay to $5 A DAY back in circa 1915 or so. A whopping wage at that time. His idea? Simple enough, so that his workers could afford to buy the Model T’s they were making. You’d think today’s plutocrats would understand this simple idea. Share the wealth, after all, you can’t take it with you on your eternal dirt nap.
>>>Heck, Alexander the Great, 2,300 years ago, understood the importance of circulating wealth, as opposed to hoarding gold, like most autocrats have done throughout history, and like plutocrats are doing this very moment.
I like how all the commentors, despite their sometimes impressive vernacular, are basically in need of a reality check. Then again, so does the man who looks at this achievement and shares it on Facebook, saying “Proud to be a Sri Lankan!”