Yesterday Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May publicly launched their brand new social network. It's called Drivetribe, and it's designed to be a place on the internet where people can go and discuss all things motoring.
I got to speak to the three of them about this new endeavour, and to learn exactly what Drivetribe is all about.
What the heck is Drivetribe?
Simply put, Drivetribe is a social network created for (and by) motoring enthusiasts. Users can sign up with their Facebook account and join 'tribes' which are essentially groups dedicated to a specific topic in the motoring world. The idea is that anyone can come in and take part in the community, regardless of how serious they are about cars and the like. It's available on desktops, Android, and iOS.
Do we really need another social network?
You'd think not, but as Clarkson, Hammond, and May all said, there isn't really a proper internet community for motorists. A lot of topics and interests can fall under the banner of motoring, and the communities that exist already tend to gravitate towards specific niches - therefore alienate large numbers of motoring enthusiasts.
The idea behind Drivetribe is that it's welcoming. Anyone can come in to immediately join or create tribes that match their own interests. As the trio put it during interview, it doesn't matter if you like cars because you drive to work in them or if you're a serious hardcore petrolhead.
What kind of stuff is on there?
It's a mix of social and magazine-style content. The main focus of Drivetribe is to foster communities and encourage people to discover content that they're interested in. That content can be smaller social network-style status updates, or it could be long-form editorial content. The Drivetribe team (including Clarkson, Hammond, and May) will be producing a mix of both, but what you find will likely depend on how the specific tribes are run.
Some tribes are mainly about photos and video footage, rather than words, and 'Dogs in Cars' was given as one example of that.
The main idea is that it doesn't matter how niche or bizarre your motoring interets are. Drivetribe is a platform that lets you find people with similar interests, rather than just milling around online hoping someone creates the right forum or fansite.
Is this something to do with The Grand Tour?
Only in that The Grand Tour's three presenters (and producer Andy Wilman) are involved with Drivetribe. The launch coinciding with Amazon's motoring show wasn't 100% intentional, and the retail/streaming/everything-else giant has absolutely nothing to do with it. Financial backing has come from a number of sources, including the likes of Breyer Capital, 21st Century Fox, and the three presenters themselves.
How much is it?
It's completely free. In fact, at the moment the entire network isn't monetised. There are no adverts, no subscriptions, no sponsored content, nothing. It was hinted that monetisation options might happen somewhere down the line, but for the time being the Drivetribe team is focused on providing an online space where people can talk about cars and other similar topics.
As mentioned before, Drivetribe officially, publicly launched yesterday. As part of that launch I got to sit down with Clarkson, Hammond, and May as part of an interview roundtable. Expect James to talk about screwdrivers, Richard explaining why motoring is like football, and Jeremy being, well, Jeremy. Here's what each of them had to say about Drivetribe, The Grand Tour, and more.
[These interviews have been lightly edited for clarity, since what people say off the top of their heads isn't always 100% concise.]
Journalist: [On why a motoring network like this hasn't happened before] Why is that, because motoring isn't niche is it?
JM: Yes that's a very good question. Motoring isn't niche, and there are dedicated bits online but they are, sort of, too niche in a way. There's lots of forums, there's odds and sods that deal with owners clubs, particular cars, and all the rest of it. And that's great, but it's quite difficult to find them and it's quite difficult to browse the subject as a whole - as an entity.
The way the tribe system works means you can browse everything to do with cars that somebody somewhere is interested enough in to create a tribe, and creating a tribe is very easy. You can't just do it and put it on there, you have to have 10 members so that it's verified or else it would end up full of crap, obviously. But it can still be full of some stuff that is pretty crap, but interesting to 2o people. You have the whole world out there.
I'm going to do one about screwdrivers, because I have a strange fascination with them. I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of people are going to think it's pretty dull, but that doesn't matter. It's not like TV where it's taking up time on BBC 2 or whatever. There will be some other people in the world, in fact I know a couple of them, who have interesting and unusual screwdrivers. So bring it on if that works.
J: Anything could work
JM: I'm not going to do that one just yet, it's waiting in the wings.
Giz: How do you expect to take on some of the bigger social networks like Facebook and Twitter, which are a lot more general but still get a lot of user traffic.
JM: Well we're not trying to knock Facebook or Twitter off the internet, it's infinitely big and there's room for everything. The difference between this and Twitter, just taking Twitter as an example because I use it quite a lot, is that Twitter is really about people - which is why people like us quite like it and do quite well, because quite a lot of people (for some absurd reason) are quite interested in what we do. But Drivetribe is about subject, and it can be about any number of subjects. One person could have multiple tribes on multiple subjects if they wanted to.
That's the essential difference, this is predicated about the topic, the content if you like, whereas Twitter and Facebook are around the person or groups of people. So there's a place for both of them, but Twitter isn't very good for talking about cars. It's a laborious way to talk about the subject really, whereas this is a very good way to talk about it.
J: Is that because there's not the interest on Twitter, or just because of the way the platform works.
JM: It's the way the platform works, Twitter is designed for pithy comments, and it's brilliant for it. I think it's fantastic. It's a fantastic idea, but it doesn't really lend it itself to topic-based. And let's be honest, it's quite a nerdy topic. A lot of car stuff is nerdy, and some of the stuff we've got on there is a bit obscure.
I joined a tribe about Lego cars this morning, because I know the lad who's doing it. I like Lego, it interests me. And the way the mechanism works, I mean it's no secret it is ultimately largely algorithmic, but if things are very popular they'll get pushed to the top and pushed to more peoples' feeds, because it seems likely that more people will be interested in, say, some general popular stuff about cars, and things that aren't so popular, like my screwdriver tribe, probably won't, but it's still visible enough for the people who are interested to find it.
J: Did you guys come up with it, or was it Ernesto [Schmitt, Drivetribe's CEO and co-founder] originally.
JM: I don't think it was any one person who came up with the idea. It started with various discussions the three of us had with various digital guru type people - who we won't name because that'd be a bit indiscreet - but they were saying you should do something. And then we found Ernesto, and Ernesto knew about 6tribes which was the original app in development that he'd bought, and he's employed the right people and took it from there. So we had a very broad laymans idea of what it should be, but not of how the platform should work and how it should appear on a computer screen.
J: 6tribes was something distinct, and not really related to motoring?
JM: It wasn't really related to anything, it was still under development and it was the tribe idea. The thing that distinguished it was this verticals by subject idea, so that's the origin of the publishing engine we've got now which is right down at the core of it in a largely atrophied form. But it did play an important part in the vision of what it should be.
It's quite tricky because, the emphasis is on it being quite easy to use. You can do it on the web or have the app, and it's designed to be fun. It is ultimately entertainment but it's quite terrifying in a way because it becomes so big. It's already so big for any one person to know intimately. That's not the idea, it's not supposed to be a car magazine that's as thick as this room is long. The idea is that it's like a big car magazine that you assemble yourself with the bits that you want. The bits out of all the car magazines you want to read in Smiths, and put them into one magazine.
I don't really like the magazine analogy, because this is something different, but it's a convenient way for old people to think about it.
J: Do you see this as something that's a lot more for the car enthuisiast than all of the TV work you guys have done?
JM: It can be, there is already some quite hardcore car stuff about drifting, modding, car clubs, that sort of thing. But I think it's a great opportunity, I've set up 'Selfies with Cars' and I've joined Lego cars. There's one I've joined called 'Shitty Car Mods' where somebody's collecting pictures of really badly modified cars, done with bits of old plastic and cardboard, and so on.
So I think there's plenty of opportunities to just have a laugh at motoring culture, which is sort of the business we're in. We've been doing that for years because we're car ethusiasts and we make serious epic TV shows about cars. But to a certain extend we're sort of laughing at them as well, because we know it's ridiculous.
J: Was it always the intention to launch around this time, to have both the Amazon series and this in tandem? I guess there's a lot of noise about the series and that can have a halo effect, I guess.
JM: It can either have a halo effect, or it could mean nobody notices because everybody's talking about the TV show instead. I don't think that will happen. It wasn't really a cynical ploy to make one piggyback off the other, but it can't do us any harm I'm sure.
From the point where we started, working on this, which was just Ernesto, a couple of other people, and us three interfering. They're very business-like about it, which is not something we know a great deal about. But you can see from how the plan went, it was going to be ready and going to launch roughly about then. And that's roughly about now.
J: You've got some pretty high profile backers as well, haven't you, Breyer and 21st Century Fox. Does that make it feel like more of a risk?
JM: For them [laughs].
No I take that as because those people aren't stupid. Otherwise we wouldn't know about them. They'd have just gone bust and be living in a dumpster. I take that as confirmation that the idea is basically sound. That's the correct way to think about it. If we'd had to crowdfund it with fivers from millions of people then I would be slightly more worried.
You've got to be absolutely sure in your minds that I am not a business person by the way. So you're already at the fuzzy end of my understanding of how business works by even mentioning investors. We've got our own money in it as well.
J: How much?
JM: I can't tell you that, but it's quite a lot. It's more money than I'd ever thought I'd have to spend on something.
J: Is there any competition between the three of you about which of your tribes gets the most followers.
JM: No, but yes. It's like when people say it isn't a race, that means it is.
J: Is Jeremy already being insufferable about how he has 10,000 more followers than you.
JM: What do you mean already? He's been insufferable since I met him.
Let's have a quick look, since I've got my iPad Pro. I'm very digital savvy.
Jeremy does yes, but I've been doing quite well today because I've posted a few things. The feedback is brutally quick on this sort of thing, as it is with Twitter.
[James then spent a minute checking up on the figures on his iPad, but there seemed to be some maintenance going on with the app that meant he couldn't]
J: Will there be a lot of winding people up if one of you streaks ahead of the other?
JM: Jeremy is streaking ahead because he's more famous and more populist. I'm not really that interested in being massive on it. As I've said about TV, I've made some quite niche obscure TV stuff. It's more important to me that the people who do follow my stuff like it. I'm not going to lose any sleep about not being the biggest of the three of us, and neither should anyone else who comes on. It's meant to be fun. Again, I'm going to say it's not a race but that means it is, doesn't it.
J: And what are motoring trolls like? Do they have a unique brand to their venom?
JM: What makes them unique is they tend to have a very, very, very good knowledge of what they're talking about which makes them quite frightening.
J: Do you think this will service them, and you'll hear them in a more vocal way?
JM: Well I'm sure if I post something about a car that a lot of people like that I don't, or vice versa, it will bring out a lot of comments. But that's the idea really. I think one of the best ways of interacting through this, from our point of view, from the point of view of the three of us, is that we can respond to people's comments and we can start debates going. Then people will feel a big more engaged, to use the fashionable word at the moment.
I don't think motoring trolls are... I was going to say they're no worse than any other sort of troll, they're probably not as bad as general social media trolls who are just looking for a platform to be rude, or racist, or whatever. And also we're linked to a Facebook login. It's a form of security for us, so you know who the people are and they can't set themselves up as 'Bastard123' and come on to call people names.
It polices itself, as with all of these things. We will do a bit of policing, but generally it's the members who police it by blocking things and pointing things out as spam.
Giz: So it's very much a hands-off approach from the business side of things? In terms of moderating and community support
JM: Well at the Drivetribe office there will be people who do that, but I think it would be too big to do it by themselves. It will rely, to a certain extent, on the users. As indeed Twitter does, you can block people and report people. I've had to report somebody who was impersonating me and spouting racist rubbish on Twitter. And they took him off.
I mean you want to avoid that sort of thing as far as possible, because it needs to be free, democratic, and open. But we don't want to tolerate incitement to riot, or people clogging it up with a load of crap... That's my job.
J: You all talk about the fact that there's no real home for motoring online, why is that? Do you think it's for a good reason as well, maybe?
RH: Not because there shouldn't be one. Because motoring is such a massive banner that cover such a vast number of people. In effect we're all touched by it, even people who hate cars or have no interest in cars will drive a car to display that fact - and they'll do that consciously. So I think they're a subject we all interact with, which is why journalistically it's endlessly fascinating. In terms of how much of our money we'll plough into it, or our thoughts, our aspirations, our dreams. We'll save up for them, steal them, envy them. That's why they're such a fantastic subject, they're very revealing.
I think it hasn't been gathered together previously, well, because of that exact reason. If you do a show about fast cars, you could do a website about trucks, about one aspect of it, you've immediately left out everybody else. We three are uniquely positioned because of, entirely by accident and with no cynicism, science, or planning, we've ended up finding an incredibly broad demographic around our subject.
Our shows range from the really quite geeky and nerdy to the utterly ridiculous. Some will hate other bits of it, some will love other bits of it, that's the way our show has always been and the way our new show's going to be. So we are uniquely placed to do that, so it seemed logical that we three should do it. Because if there's one banner in which we can initially draw people in and say "hey, it's safe to come here and talk about cars and motoring".
Whether or not you're a major gearhead, whether you're an enthusiast of opposed joined air-cooled heads or whatever, or whether you're interested in cars because you go to school in them. You can come and share your opinion, and listen to other peoples' opinion. So hopefully, hopefully, this is a good way of doing it.
J: Which way do you think that scale of balance will fall, will it go more to the hardcore motoring enthusiasts looking to talk about cars, or...
RH: It can go whichever. I think initially there will be a sense of relief and there will be... Well there will be both, we found that with our shows consistently. There are those who want to talk about only one very narrow precise part of it, or more broadly about restoring cars, or only about the mechanics, or only about the industry. Never forget, there's never been a more interesting time to consider cars generally, just as the media is changing we're hopefully fitting in with that. The subject of our communication around our passion is undergoing huge changes with the search for different motive powers, and therefore what that'll do for business.
So there's a huge view just within serious car people to talk about. But beyond that there's people that just like to... I've seen tribes automatically setup, and we've fed the site with 1,000-1,500 tribe leaders just to test and prove software and tech, and then we'll do that again now we get to scale. But through that initial iteration people were coming up with tribes that we've sort of had and gone "I wonder if someone will do with opposed twins" [that's an engine type for the less car savvy - ed.]. Yes somebody's already done that with opposed twins. Somebody's already done dogs in cars, and that's the other end of the scale.
We didn't seed the subjects, we just said to people "right, you can have a tribe here you go" and already the range is coming from really serious global expedition stuff in an old beetle to pictures of dogs in cars, to massive fans of BMW M3s, to massive fans of modern Jag cars, to massive fans of spotting supercars in the street. So hopefully it can all come in under one umbrella, and then we can cross-pollinate and cross communicate across those tribes, and they might find other stuff that they wouldn't otherwise ever have found.
J: How long before there's a Chris Evans tribe?
Do you know, I wouldn't be surprised. Great, funny, help yourselves, that'd be fantastic. Somebody will, and of course they will. That's the point. This is the democratisation of content, and great why shouldn't it be? If you do something good, doesn't matter if you're Jeremy, James or Me, or anybody else with a very specific interest in collecting hubcaps. If people like that content, it'll be disseminated broadly and people will see it. You don't have to provide content at all, you can just go for a mooch about. I found one about rusty trucks, which was just loads of rusty trucks.
J: Could you have done this if you were under contract with Top Gear at the BBC?
RH: I don't know we never investigated. No probably not.
J: So why now, why did this feel like a good time to do it.
RH: It felt right because when we were reinventing the show, we felt great to be part of the changing television. The linear TV, old school taking its place, not disappearing, but taking its place in a much bigger environment of broadcasting options. It was quite nice to be part of that, but then there's still more. There's newer, and newer, and newer media, how do we connect with that? And this is the way to it, so it felt like the right time.
It is a bit of a perfect coming together isn't it, because, again, the fact that our medium is changing so vastly and quickly -as is our subject- means we're perfectly positioned to have an absolute riot. We're certainly not going to run out of content for the next few years, and neither are we going to run out of new ways of putting that content in front of people.
Giz: A lot of networks like this that aren't part of the main social networks tend to drop off after a little while, is there anything specifically you've got in mind to make sure that doesn't happen?
RH: I think engagement across the different tribes. It's back to the reasoning behind it, to set up a big digital presence in motoring, you'd have to narrow it down because motoring itself is too broad. It simply is. In our instance, we three are there, we can say you can be a geek, you can be a racer, you can be somebody who collects old cars and has little interest in cars beyond looking at them out of your window. So hopefully that'll have the effect of broadening it, and we'll be looking very closely for exactly that. Because I'm interested in rebuilding a 1925 New Imperial Motorcycle combination I've got at home, but I'm also interested in the fact Renault are going to bring out their new Alpine, possibly. That's quite interesting.
Or the fact that this morning I was stuck in a jam. It's all cars, it's all our subjects, So how do we keep connecting those together, and I think that's looking about pushing content, connecting people, and, above all else, there's a danger that motoring can feel how football does to me. Never followed it in my life, and on the rare occasion I've put my hand up and voiced an opinion in the pub with my mates I get the crap kicked out of me because I haven't got the right stuff to do it.
So now I'm scared to approach it, whereas actually I really like teamplay, I like the strategy, the tactics of it. My eldest daughter plays hockey, and she'll happily watch football because she isn't quite as self conscious as me. I've had that knocked out of me. I think motoring can be like that, a bit scary to approach. People thinking "oh shit, I don't know what was happening in 1972 with whatever manufacturer, so I can't have an opinion on this." Hopefully this will crack that.
J: What does success look for you guys, is it that in terms of engaging new people?
RH: Yeah. I think it is. I think success is having the widest, deepest, richest, seem of motoring-related content and interactivity ever seen. At launch there's some longform stuff in there, because that's all we've been able to do, it's not to scale. There's some really beautiful stuff in there, footage, photographs, writing. Great, and that should be there, but this is far from an archive. It should also be alive, and I want to see those exchanges happening.
J: You're not monetising it initially are you. No advertising, no branded content. Will that come eventually? You've got to make money somehow
RH: With all of these things, it's proving the tech, it's proving it works. We're going to have to literate developers who go on through these next few months, we're aware of that. And to try and monetise in the middle of that would be insane. It becomes too heavy and fixed immediately, when you want it to be fleet of foot for as long as it can be. It's important.
J: Is there going to be any competition between the three of you? As in whose tribe has more followers.
RH: I'll say no, but of course there will be. Because there will be, of course there will. Hopefully it'll be competition between everybody on it, and we have gamified the thing, there are options to do that. We will enhance that and see how much people want to run with it, and if people really love the gamification of the tribes then we'll dial that up.
Giz: What is it to do another business venture with two men that seem to irritate the hell out of you.
RH: Absolutely terrible. Can you imagine board meetings with us?
Nah, listen, we're very much enjoying that process. I'm personally fascinated with it, and what a time to be doing it. Just as soon as so many things have been turned on their head by tech and the communication that allows. The different forms of communication, and sharing of ideas. I don't think there's been a better time to talk about cars through the media, since the invention of the press and the invention of the car.
J: What have you made of the response to The Grand Tour, you're operating in the same space with that respect - online - has it been as overwhelming as some of the responses you got from Top Gear, which was on TV?
RH: Yeah it's been amazing, and rewarding. Our demographic, which is a horrible ugly word, has always been so brilliant. That's exactly what we're trying to spread across in Drivetribe. The Grand Tour is already doing that. We knew there'd be people who just like watching us be silly with cars and the proper gearheads are with us as well. There will always be, you know, some that don't like it when we're really silly, and some who don't it when we're really nerdy. I think we've got the right balance with that, and I think that's what we can do with is.
The joy with this is you don't have to commit to one linear experience, you don't have to sign up to watch and be involved in the whole of Drivetribe. You pull out the bits that you want, and, hopefully, the bit that will work very well is joining according to interest - subject. You walk onto social media and you're like "ooh I know three people, I'll just follow them" and then it sort of expands. Whereas with this, hopefully you can immediately find subjects that you also have an interest in, and then you can post your own comments or long-form stuff, or articles, whatever you want.
You can find people who are like-minded, it should be a shortcut to that clever thing digital media does - which is connect us with people with whom we have something in common but never would have met otherwise.
J: Just a quick question on The Grand Tour if that's possible. Carol Vorderman, in the first episode, where did that come from? How did that go down with a global audience?
RH: She was there! And it was too good an opportunity to miss, so we killed her.
J: It seems you guys have bumped off a number of celebrities quite quickly, who else in on your hitlist?
RH: I don't know, we'll see. I can't give anything away!
J: Are you hoping Donald Trump pops by?
Well I'm sure he'll be eager to volunteer.
But no, I can't possibly comment.
J: Have the BBC lawyers been in touch?
RH: As a time for us, it's really exciting. A new show receiving just an unbelievable response. There was a tidal wave of appreciation on social media, when the first show went out. That felt, not in an ego way, obviously I'm a presenter on it, but just for all the people making it. It felt tremendous, and I want to do the same with this. I want us to have a fantastic launch of this.
J: It seems though you've ruffled a few feathers, with Netflix saying it could have cost as much as a quarter of a billion dollars.
RH: If you're not creating a stir then you're not trying hard enough, so we're not really worried about that sort of thing at all.
J: Do you think that's a bit of sour grapes on their part?
RH: I don't know. When you do things on a big scale people will always have comments about it, and their own agenda, and their own reasons for saying things. The main thing is, are people enjoying the show? Yes. Will people enjoy Drivetribe? Yes.
J: So Amazon's pretty relaxed about this going out at the same time as The Grand Tour
JC: Well the Grand Tour is twelve hours of telly, you know, high quality super well-thought out telly. And this is a massive social network. The same way Twitter aren't bothered when somebody opens a new shop.
J: How much freedom does this give you to explore the different avenues of your interests? James was talking about he's a bit more nerdy and was looking to do something about screwdrivers
J: Oh yes, honestly, I mean James will learn about... Yeah. His tribes will be bumping along the bottom. Because the clever thing about the machine is that it recognises the interesting funny ones. Somebody puts up something great, amusing, interesting, whatever it might be. The machine, when people have looked at that a lot, bumps it up to the top. Even if you slow down to look at something it recognises that, which means, just a purely personal example, I'm not interested in motorcycles. James and Richard are, which means that, hopefully, within a day or two, it'll start to realise that I never look at motorcycle tribes, so I'll never get sent motorcycling information.
Well if I do, it'll be right at the bottom, and it'll be down there with James May's screwdriver tribe.
Giz: Unless it's something about how motorcycles are incredibly dangerous and should be off the road.
JC: Well yes. Well it's just basically going off in leather trousers with other men for the weekend. It's not something I like to do.
But if it's a Lamborghini going sideways round a corner, well I'll have a look at that.
J: I've asked this question with the other guys, but why do you think there's not a home for motoring online. Because it's not niche is it?
JC: No, quite the opposite. The figures we've got are that more people have expressed an interest on Facebook in cars than anything else. It's still the number one thing, and it's still the number one industry in the world apart from drugs and arms.
So it's still a huge subject, but there's no getting away from the fact that the under-20s have got a lot less interested in cars than at any point in the last hundred years. But there's still plenty of people over 20, and plenty of people under 20 to warrant... well we'll see. Millions and millions of people watched our old TV show all around the world. No earthly reason why all of them won't go onto Drivetribe.
J: Why are young people not as engaged in motoring as they once were?
JC: Try driving around London, or any major city these days, and they're just turning the whole fucking place into a cycle lane, that's why.
J: That's the one reason? [Laughs]
JC: Because it's a traffic jam. When I was learning to drive it was fantastic and exciting, and Drivetribe will remind people "oh yeah, driving can be fun". Rather than "ooh look at this polar bear, which is poorly because of you".
Giz: Do you think there's any sort of correlation between the rising number of car video games compared to people going out and driving cars for themselves?
JC: I'm not sure. I think if you don't engage... Mind you I play Call of Duty, but at no time - well I did actually on The Grand Tour last week - but at no point do I think I'll equip myself with a heavy machine gun for this trip to the shops.
J: How tiring was that SAS stuff?
JC: Very, getting out of that helicopter was extremely tiring. I was very out of breath and frightened, and then my trousers... Why don't the SAS's trousers fall down more often?
But really why don't they? It is genuinely difficult, because you've got so many grenades and magazines in your trousers. They just fall down all the time. Maybe they do, and that's why they're secret. So we don't have to look at their trousers falling down.
Giz: Just going back to the point you made about killing polar bears, obviously climate change is one of the things that has been a little bit more controversial with Top Gear and everything you've done in the past. How do you feel about the man who has been elected president of America think it's a Chinese conspiracy.
JC: Well actually, do you know who was the first person to ever use the word global warming? Mrs Thatcher. In her battle with the miners.
She said the coal was going to contribute to global warming, and nobody had ever heard of it before then. It's not a Chinese conspiracy, but we could sit and talk about it all day long.
Unlike most people I've actually been to the North Pole, and the polar bears have a great deal of space to roam around in. A huge amount of space. And it's really cold, so even if it warms up by 400 degrees it'll still be really cold up there, so they'll be fine.
J: Do you think you would have got the level of investment you've got from the likes of Breyer and 21st Century Fox if you three weren't involved.
JC: Who knows, probably not.
J: Does it stand and fall on you?
JC: That's a good question. I mean we're heavily invested in it, that's the thing . This is not Planet Hollywood with Stallone and Willis, and so on who fronted this restaurant. And the idea was we were supposed to believe they were in the kitchens. It's completely the opposite. We're all extremely heavily invested in this, both in terms of time and money.
There's no question that investors like it when people who started it up put their own shoes and shirt on the line, which we have.
J: Does it worry you? Without being too negative, there's a litany of UK tech startups who fall by the wayside. How much of a risk do you consider this?
JC: Well I don't know, because I don't know anything about business. I literally know nothing. We have a team of techs there, and business people who are perfectly capable of dealing with that. My role, as far as this is concerned, is to try and ensure that it's fun. It's the same as saying when we were at the BBC, BBC Worldwide made money, and the camera teams knew how to operate the equipment. I only knew how to do the scripts, and perform. That was my role within it, and it's exactly the same with Drivetribe.
J: What does success look like as far as you're concerned?
JC: That people like it, and you know that because you can tell when people talk to you. They say "I really like Drivetribe". I'm sure there are business people in our offices in Kings Cross with huge target charts and going "oooh" with graphs.
J: You're going to get data, unlike Amazon.
JC: Oh no, in board meetings I play Tetris. I'm not interested in any form of, it's just make it entertaining and interesting. There are other people much better able to deal with the business side of it than me.
J: How much time are you going to be producing content for this?
JC: It's all the time. I've already put up three posts up this morning. It's like saying how many times do I post on Twitter.
J: But in terms of producing the polished film footage we're used to see from you guys.
JC: We're going for the completely unpolished on Drivetribe. The polished is on television. The unpolished 'oh look James has fallen over', that's what will go on Drivetribe.
It's the unpolished, it's the raw that you're going to get from us on Drivetribe. If you want to see polished, Amazon is the place to go.
J: Does that mean you'll be spending less time on Twitter?
JC: I would hope so. I should make an announcement actually. If you want to know anything about cars from now on, go to Drivetribe. Then just leave Twitter for a look at my shoes.
J: Is that purely because of the launch, or?
JC: Well Twitter do very well from people like me who have a lot of followers, and I get jack shit from it. So why would I not post all that on my own network.
Giz: Are you going to be doing a specific amount of long-form content, or is it just going to be small posts and thoughts here and there.
JC: Small posts, I've also done some longer stories, thousand word stuff.
Giz: Are there any targets? Or is just whenever you feel like it?
JC: I've done five long-from things. This week is busy, but next week it quietens down again, we can go berserk. It's exactly the same as any other social media thing. Exactly the same.
J: So the little behind-the-scenes stuff when you're filming The Grand Tour, that'll be on Drivetribe now?
JC: Yes, the individual stuff. That's really quite a complicated question. I could give you the answer, but you'd die of boredom halfway through.
J: Donald Trump was mentioned before. Would you have him on The Grand Tour?
JC: God yes. Have you seen what we're doing with everybody?
Giz: How would you kill him off if you had him on?
JC: It's up to them to have, erm, I don't know actually. We live in interesting times, do we not?
J: The Grand Tour has been really well received, but it's ruffled a few feathers - especially with Netflix who said that Amazon paid
JC: Oh $250 million?
J: Yeah, quarter of a billion dollars, is that true or is that just them being a bit sour grapes?
JC: No, that was just nonsense. A nonsense figure. The Daily Mail's guesses, as well, were way wide off the mark.
J: How long before we see Chris Evans on Drivetribe?
JC: He can start a tribe!
J: Would you encourage him to do that?
JC: Yeah. Why would you not? Everyone can start a tribe.
So if you like cars, and all that sort of thing, it's probably a good idea to give Drivetribe a go. Even if it's just to hear about James May's screwdrivers. It's available on desktops, Android, and iOS.