“Show Me the Carfax!”

The Columbia Daily Tribune ran a nice piece last weekend on Carfax, founded in Columbia in 1984 by local entrepreneur Ewin Barnett. Carfax is a fascinating entrepreneurial story: Ewin was working with state DMV records used by direct marketing companies to compile lists of names and addresses, and noticed that the records also contained VIN and title numbers, information that could be used to track the life history of the car. A moment of Kirznerian insight, followed by a lot of Knightian investment, led to a business that now employs 600 people and recently processed its 9 billionth automobile record. (Ewin sold the company in 1993 and it’s now headquartered in Virginia, but the technical staff remains here in Columbia, along with most of the employees.)

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