Supercar Blondie Is Going Into the Auction Business - Kanebridge News
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Supercar Blondie Is Going Into the Auction Business

By Jim Motavalli
Mon, Apr 8, 2024 7:00amGrey Clock 3 min

Social media personality Supercar Blondie, a London-based Australian whose real name is Alex Hirschi, found her niche posting automotive eyecandy for eager viewers rather accidentally.

“I started out as a journalist, and I just fell into cars through my radio show,” says Hirschi.

For someone who “fell into” cars, they’ve certainly been good to her—the Supercar Blondie network of social channels that includes Supercarblondie.com has 110 million subscribers, including 18.4 million on YouTube and 56 million on Facebook. The content has 2 billion views per month, according to the company.

Alex and Nik Hirschi, the Supercar Blondie couple, in Las Vegas.
Jim Motavalli photo

Hirschi, whose first car was a lowly Mitsubishi Lancer, produces the Supercar Blondie content with her husband, Nik Hirschi, who is Swiss. The radio show was on the Arabian Radio Network in Dubai from 2012 to 2017. Dubai is full of supercars, and Hirschi, then known as “Radio Blondie,” said it was a natural fit to drive some of them—Bentleys, McLarens, Ferraris—for on-air features. The independent Supercar Blondie content creation company was launched in Dubai (where Nik Hirschi worked at Bloomberg, Barclays, and Thomson Reuters) in 2017 and has been growing ever since.

“I just loved supercars, and what started out as a hobby after I was loaned a Bentley Flying Spur to drive around Dubai eventually got more serious,” Alex Hirschi says. “We started filming my encounters with cars and uploading the video to our channel.” These days the couple travels 300 days a year; Penta first caught up with them at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Tyde Icon electric hydrofoil uses BMW batteries.
SBX Cars Photo

And now SB Media Group, based in London with 65 employees, Nik as CEO and Alex as the co-founder and on-air talent, is going into the auto auction business. SBX Cars, based in California, launched this week. The inaugural inventory goes beyond cars, and includes an electric Tyde hydrofoil yacht designed by BMW. There’s also a no-reserve Tesla Cybertruck, a one-of-nine Lamborghini Veneno Roadster, and a one-of-three Lamborghini Veneno Coupe. Likely attracting attention will be the first public auctions of the Mercedes-AMG One and the Hyperion XP-1 hydrogen-powered prototype. There were three LaFerrari prototypes, and one will be auctioned by SBX Cars.

A collection of John Player Special Lotus F1 racing cars will also be auctioned, as well as Lotus transporters, and founder Colin Chapman’s personal plane and some vehicles from his garage. Other high-dollar items include a Mercedes 300SL “Gullwing,” a Lamborghini Miura, a BMW 507, and an Aston Martin DB5. The estimated valuation of the auction lots consigned is US$100 million.

The Mercedes-AMG One was limited to 275 units.
SBX Cars Photo

The auctions will be online, but there could be some in-person events in the future. “We’re going to be the only digital auction site that focuses on the high end,” Nik Hirschi says. “We will focus on cars that are super-cool, with many that are one-of-a-kind, and we’re going to be attracting collectors from all over the world. Every car will be represented on the site with 200 photographs, taken by our global network.” Video will also be available.

SBX Cars says it will speed up the process for consignors, with just a few weeks until their cars become available on the site. Once up, the vehicles will remain available for one to two weeks. SBX Cars Auction Director Lance Butler, a Bonhams veteran, said in a statement that the auction “introduces our clients to a far easier buying and selling process, all while accessing one of the world’s largest global audiences by way of Supercar Blondie.”

The prototype Hyperion XP-1.
SBX Cars Photo

Mercedes 300SLs, Aston Martin DB5s, and BMW 507s are frequently auctioned around the globe, but SBX features some true exotics.



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More meetings and faceless chats. Fewer work friends. How the modern workday is fuelling an epidemic of isolation.

By TE-PING CHEN
Wed, May 29, 2024 5 min

More Americans are profoundly lonely, and the way they work—more digitally linked but less personally connected—is deepening that sense of isolation.

Nick Skarda , 29 years old, works two jobs in logistics and office administration in San Diego to keep up with his bills. After a couple of years at the logistics job, he has one friend there. He says hi to co-workers at his office job but doesn’t really know any.

“I feel sort of an emptiness or lack of belonging,” he says. Juggling two jobs leaves Skarda exhausted, with little energy or time to grab drinks with co-workers . “It makes it harder to go in and give it your all if you don’t feel like anyone is there rooting for you,” he adds.

Employers and researchers are just beginning to understand how workplace shifts over the past four years are contributing to what the U.S. surgeon general declared a loneliness health epidemic last year. The alienation affects remote and in-person workers alike. Among 1-800-Flowers.com ’s 5,000 hybrid and fully on-site employees, for instance, the most popular community chat group offered by a company mental-health provider is simply called “Loneliness.”

Consider these phenomena of modern work:

It is a marked shift from even a decade ago, when bonds fostered at work helped compensate for declining participation in church , community groups and other social institutions. As the American workday becomes more faceless and scheduled , the number of U.S. adults who call themselves lonely has climbed to 58% from 46% in 2018, according to a recent Cigna poll of 10,000 Americans.

The faceless workday

The disconnection is driving up staff turnover and worker absences, making it a business issue for more employers, executives and researchers say. Cigna, the health-insurance company, estimates that loneliness is costing companies $154 billion a year in absenteeism alone.

“Work is social, it’s a lot more than a paycheck,” says James McCann , founder and chairman of 1-800-Flowers.com.

Earlier this year, 1-800-Flowers.com moved from three days in the office to four to boost a sense of connectivity among workers. It has also begun tapping workers across teams to serve as designated hosts during lunchtime, encouraging people to sit with colleagues they don’t know in common areas and chat, and suggesting conversation topics.

While today’s workers have more ways to connect than ever, “there are only so many memes and jokes you can send over Slack,” says Maëlle Gavet , chief executive of Techstars, a pre-seed fund that has invested in 4,100 startups. “We tend to have more and more people with back-to-back calendars, more meetings and less connections.”

Gavet says that is especially the case for hybrid workers on in-office days, which they tend to use to dash from one meeting to the next.

Paradoxically, meetings can make people feel lonelier—and even more so if the meetings are virtual, behavioural researchers say. A 2023 survey by employee experience and analytics company Perceptyx found people who described themselves as “very lonely” tended to have heavier meeting loads than less-lonely staffers. More than 40% of those people spent more than half their work hours in meetings.

In Cincinnati, Kelly Roehm says she came to chafe at the meetings—sometimes as many as 12—consuming her day after joining a consulting company in 2021. She would often feel her eyes glazing over as she multitasked on other screens.

“It’s like you’re a zombie, there but not there,” says Roehm, who lived 10 minutes from the office but worked mostly remotely because she says few colleagues typically came in. It is a more common setup as companies distribute teams across more locations: At Microsoft , 27% of the company’s teams all worked in the same location last year, compared with 61% in 2019.

She compares that experience with her time more than a decade ago at a company now owned by AstraZeneca . There, she enjoyed lots of social outlets at work: a Weight Watchers group and a lunchtime crochet club.

“Now if I were to think about asking, ‘Hey, do you want to participate in something like this,’ it would just sound weird,” says Roehm, who left this year to focus on her own career-consulting business. “There wasn’t that emotional attachment that made it difficult to say, it’s time to move on.”

The power of small talk

Office chitchat, sometimes an unwanted distraction, seems to provide more benefits than many people realize, says Jessica Methot , an associate professor at Rutgers University who studies social ties at work.

In a study of 100 employees at different workplaces, Methot and fellow researchers surveyed participants at points throughout the day. They found those who had engaged in small talk reported less stress and more positivity toward co-workers.

Even exchanging pleasantries with a co-worker you barely know can help, says Sarah Wright , an associate professor at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury who studies worker loneliness.

“We used to think loneliness has to be overcome by developing meaningful relationships and having that degree of intimacy,” Wright says. “More and more, though, we’re seeing it’s these day-to-day weak ties and frequency of [interactions] with people that matters.”

Such interactions are substantially harder to replicate in a virtual environment. “The default now is, I have to schedule time with you, even if it’s five minutes, instead of just picking up the phone,” says Katie Tyson , president of Hive Brands, an online food retailer founded in 2020 as a fully remote company.

The frictions add up, she says. Last fall, the company added an office in New York where employees voluntarily gather a couple of times a week to foster more cohesion.

Coming to the office, even on a hybrid basis, tends to yield a roughly 20% to 30% boost in serendipitous connections, according to Syndezo, which analysed survey data and email and messaging traffic from more than two dozen large companies.

Yet there are diminishing returns to time in person, says Philip Arkcoll , founder of Worklytics, which analyses workforce data for Fortune 500 companies. Coming in once a month provides a significant boost in ties; two or three times a month adds a little more, Worklytics data show. Once or twice a week results in a smaller increase, though, and working in-person four or five days a week makes almost no difference.

A business priority

Ernst & Young has asked managers to use the first five minutes of team calls to engage in conversation “as real human beings,” says Frank Giampietro , whose title, chief well-being officer for the Americas, was created in 2021 to help support employees during the pandemic.

The professional-services firm is also training employees to spot and reach out to co-workers struggling with issues such as isolation. To date, more than 1,600 employees have taken the training.

One challenge is that American workers have sacrificed connection for productivity, says Julie Rice , co-founder of fitness chain SoulCycle. These days, with more business contacts preferring video calls, she finds breakfast meetings and coffee dates on her calendar have been replaced with Zoom. Though efficient, such video calls are less likely to yield conversations that can turn into useful professional connections or lasting friendships, she says.

“Even people I’m meeting with here in New York, we’ll just Zoom,” she says.

Last year, Rice co-founded Peoplehood, a company that runs “gathers” to improve connectivity and relationship skills, and employers are signing up. One, a beauty-services business with hundreds of field employees who never see each other, asked Peoplehood to host a series of gatherings for workers to meet and share job advice. Another, a marketing company with far-flung employees, requested help after surveys showed staff wanted to feel more connected.

“Whatever relationships we had pre-Covid have sort of run out of gas,” Rice says.

Good luck prodding employees to socialise, though. Nearly all the 150-odd staff at the Pleasanton, Calif., headquarters of Shaklee, the nutrition-supplements company, used to attend annual Earth Day gatherings, which involved community service, lunch and breaking early for the day, says Jonathan Ramot , the company’s North American human-resources director. Office happy hours, bowling outings and “mix and mingles” were also robustly attended.

Now that the workforce has gone remote, last year’s Earth Day event attracted 20 staffers, even though most workers live nearby.

“We have a lot of people asking for in-person events, but when we plan them, they don’t show up,” Ramot says. “Then they complain they’re lonely.”

This past April, Shaklee instead held a mandatory get-together with the chief executive, who had relocated to Florida during the pandemic and was in town. About 100 employees gathered at a brewery for food, drinks and conversation—and no speeches from the bosses.

There was a buzz in the air, Ramot says, as staff hugged and delighted in seeing each other, some for the first time. “People were saying, I miss this,” he says.