Juicero began in secret. The startup, a sort of Keurig for cold-pressed plant-water—which made headlines for the $120 million in venture capital it secured from the likes of Google and Kleiner-Perkins between 2013 and 2015, and again when it announced its wi-fi-connected countertop appliance would cost a jaw-dropping $700 on launch—intended to keep its business free from prying eyes, either because it feared corporate espionage, mockery, or both. Was it the future of convenient health food, or an overfunded subscription service for bags of chopped up plants?HT: A.V. Club whose sense of betrayal comes through in their headline:
Founded in 2013 by Doug Evans, former CEO of New York juice company Organic Avenue, Juicero coupled a bizarre set of interests: a curdled, monopolized tech industry which has run dry on useful new ideas; the medically-vague but burgeoning wellness industry’s promise to fill a physical and spiritual void, stripped away at least in part by tech itself. Two types of snake oil, expertly blended to suit their flavor profiles—and true to the spirit of both industries, accessible only to the wealthy.
Juicero has by any measure gotten the public comeuppance it richly deserved since launching at the end of last March. The company slashed its press’s sale price nearly in half in January, and had its juice press torn down in April as “hopelessly expensive to manufacture and assemble,” not long after a Bloomberg expose revealed the press itself was made redundant by the simple human hand, which can squeeze the produce bags well enough. But these darkly comic gaffes are a only keyhole view into the kingdom of dysfunction Juicero’s employees have been living in.
Gizmodo spoke to eight past and current Juicero employees and contractors, representing a wide swath of the company’s functions, all on condition of anonymity. Their stories reveal a business with deeply skewed priorities, where every warning sign along the path to its own undoing was cavalierly ignored at the behest of its autocratic founder. “[Evans] was actually genuinely surprised with [the backlash],” a team member who departed after the product launch last year told Gizmodo. “I don’t think that was the case for the other employees.”
The mad king
In its infant stages, Juicero set its sights on changing the world. Small local farms and “ugly” produce—unfit for grocery stores but no less nutritious—would fuel a revolution to bring increasingly fat, malnourished Americans the fresh fruits and vegetables they’d forgone for junk food. And all in a convenient system that delivered liquid vitamins and minerals in delicious combinations. Evans loves to recount his own story of abandoning “hamburgers and fries” for “raw, organic fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts and seaweed” after his parents’ untimely deaths....MORE
Read This: Juicero wasn’t just stupid, it was a lie
The indignation (and vaguely Teutonic-sounding "Read This") echo my own response to the German response to Juicero:
"What Do Germans Think of the Juicero?"
It's come to this, the Germans are making jokes, JOKES, at Silicon Valley's expense.For handy (schadenfreude) reference here's the CrunchBase page on who funded this thing:
From The Awl:
Deutschland über us (now almost as strong as two human hands).
Despite the recently accepted honor of most important country in the world, Germany is a small place. Geographically, it is not even the size of Montana; its population (80 million very stern people) is about twice the size of California. At the same time, German speakers are very obsessed with the news: in parts of Germany and all of Austria, for example, the $7 price of a cup of coffee at a Kaffeehaus is justified because patrons can sit and nurse that coffee for ten hours while they read literally every single page of every single newspaper to which the Kaffeehaus subscribes precisely for that purpose. The result? When they run out of their own news (which they always do), Germans and Austrians keep up with news from all over the world — even when (prepare to spit out your breakfast cupcakes, Amis) that news doesn’t necessarily concern them....MORE
Funding Rounds (4) - $118.5MUpdate
|Date||Amount / Round||Valuation||Lead Investor||Investors|
|Apr, 2016||$28M / Series C||—||—||0|
|Mar, 2016||$70M / Series B||—||Artis Ventures (AV)||17|
|Apr, 2014||$16.5M / Series A||—||—||0|
|Oct, 2013||$4M / Seed||—||—||0|