Re: Silicon Valley Disrupts Its Own Ass
Posted: 15 Sep 2017, 12:57
What this thread title constantly makes me recall:
Free Minds. Free Markets. Free Beer.
We talked to a bunch of white upper middle class people and they thought the name was tight.They admit the backlash took them by surprise. "We did some homework — speaking to New Yorkers, branding people, and even running some survey work asking about the name and any potential offense it might cause.
I wonder who has better data on the consumer market for vending machine products: companies that have been operating vending machines for decades, or some Googlers who plan to start tracking purchases once they get into venues.And Mike Murphy writing for Quartz:The cabinets are filled with items to buy that are relevant to where you are at that given moment: In the office, they might be filled with snacks and drinks; at the gym, they could have Gatorade, supplements, and knee braces; in an apartment lobby, there could be detergent, pharmaceutical goods, and perhaps some snacks, too. Whatever makes most sense.
Here in Los Angeles, I have a membership at LA Fitness. That's a very big chain in Southern California with lots of locations, and I have hit well over a dozen. Furthermore, since I've moved around quite a bit, I've gone to a number of gyms in Arkansas, Virginia, and Georgia. I won't claim that this constitutes a representative sample, but it is a pretty good cross-section, and in all that time I cannot recall a gym that did not have vending machines that sold items such as energy drinks, power bars, earbuds, and various protein supplements. Many also had stores/cafés/juice bars, but pretty much all had vending machines.
The fact that these establishments already have a machine that sells exactly the same things that McDonald proposes offering in his machines is definitely worth mentioning. It pretty much takes this part of the pitch out at the knees. But Segran and Murphy either ignore or possibly simply don't notice this fact because it undercuts the narrative. These are two ex-Googlers using data and artificial intelligence and machine learning and all-purpose creative destruction to solve problems and disrupt old and sclerotic industries. The fact that many people have already done what McDonald's promising to accomplish does not fit the story at all.
Fortunately, they sell knee braces!It pretty much takes this part of the pitch out at the knees.
Smells like 1999 to me...When Adam Neumann pitches potential investors on his startup, WeWork Cos., he likes to rev them up with a jaunt through his company's shared office spaces.
Before arriving, the 38-year-old chief executive typically sends staffers a directive: "Activate the space." WeWork's employees swarm a lounge to host an impromptu party with pizza, ice cream or margaritas.
When Mr. Neumann and his guests walk in, he often remarks how the office always seems filled with life, according to several former employees.
Fueled by showmanship, an expansive vision and the occasional shot of tequila, Mr. Neumann has propelled the New York-based office-space provider into being one of the world's richest startups. With a valuation of more than $20 billion, or about 20 times annualized revenue, it is the fourth most valuable U.S. startup after Uber Technologies Inc., Airbnb Inc. and rocket company Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX. WeWork's valuation has galloped higher in each of the past five years.
Mr. Neumann has dazzled tech investors by portraying WeWork as a Silicon Valley-style company that provides a "physical social network" for millennials. Top investors include SoftBank Group Corp. and its tech-focused Vision Fund, which added $4.4 billion in August.
Others in the real-estate industry and some Silicon Valley investors say the company's well-crafted image belies the mundane nature of its business. WeWork takes on long-term leases for raw office space and builds out the interior with flexible spaces and modern design that it then subleases for terms as short as a month.
IWG PLC, an office-leasing company with a business model similar to WeWork's, manages five times the square footage and has about one-eighth the market value.
Boston Properties Inc., the country's largest publicly traded office landlord, owns five times the square footage that WeWork manages and has a market capitalization of $19 billion.
WeWork's strategy carries the costs and risks associated with traditional real estate. Its client list is heavily weighted toward startups that may or may not be around for long. WeWork is on the hook for long-term leases, and it doesn't own its own buildings. Vacancy rates have risen recently, and the company is increasing incentives to draw tenants.
"If you had positioned this as a real-estate company, it wouldn't be worth this," said Barry Sternlicht, who runs Starwood Capital Group LLC, with more than $50 billion of real-estate assets under management. Mr. Neumann "dressed it up and made it into a community, and that turned it into a tech play."
Venture capitalists and mutual funds have poured billions into companies claiming they can upend traditional industries whether through the use of technology or their unique appeal to millennials. Startups in the business of selling meal kits, mattresses and razors have received tech-like valuations based on the idea their rapid growth can continue for years.
Mr. Neumann in public remarks often compares WeWork to ride-hailing company Uber and home-rental service Airbnb, whose valuations soared on the premise they were technology platforms, not taxi or hotel companies.
Some of the air is now coming out of that balloon. Shares in Blue Apron Holdings Inc., the meal-kit maker, are now trading at half the price of its IPO. Juicero Inc., the seller of a cold-press juicing system, announced in September it was halting operations after having raised $100 million in venture capital.
Smoke and mirrors:Tetrick insists that Hampton Creek is not a vegan-food producer. He has called it a “tech company that happens to be working with food” and has said, “The best analogue to what we’re doing is Amazon.” Using robotics, artificial intelligence, data science, and machine learning—the full monty of Silicon Valley’s trendiest technologies—Hampton Creek is, according to Tetrick, attempting to analyze the world’s 300,000-plus plant species to find sustainable, animal-free alternatives to ingredients in processed foods.
Frankly, it sounds more like a cult than a company:Former Hampton Creek employees, including several involved in its research efforts—all of whom declined to be named for fear of retribution—suggested that the company focused on the appearance of innovation and disruption to the occasional detriment of tangible, long-term goals. They expressed frustration at being asked to reallocate resources from developing digital infrastructure to designing “cool looking” data-visualization tools that seemed like they would be primarily useful for impressing visitors; at having to leave their desks to don lab coats and “pretend to be doing something, because they had VIP investors coming through”; and at being instructed to set up taste tests for members of the public that took time away from product development. “We could’ve done really good science, and instead we were doing performances and circus acts,” one ex-employee told me.
Needless to say, there's a TED Talk.He has said he drew inspiration for Hampton Creek from his seven years in sub-Saharan Africa (three of which he passed, for the most part, in law school at the University of Michigan). Motivated by being raised on “a steady diet of shitty food” in Birmingham and seeing homeless children relying on “dirty-ass water” in Africa, Tetrick launched Hampton Creek to “open our eyes to the problems the world faces.”
Employees can repeat parts of Tetrick’s story from memory, like an origin myth, describing for visitors the Burger King chicken sandwiches and 7-Eleven nachos that Tetrick ate as a kid. (New hires participate in a workshop where they practice reciting their own personal journey toward embracing the company’s mission.)
I'm pretty sure they weren't 'just' models and went whole hog with ladies of the night.
Except no one seems to recall any drugs. Or sex, either. Which, for this corner of California, is notable in itself. This is, after all, the birthplace of the Summer of Love. Drugs and sex are as much as part of Northern Cali culture as hiking and weird health kicks.
One of the most salacious details covers a "cuddle puddle" where a small area of floor was covered in pillows, the lighting was dimmed, and people laid down and… cuddled. It even extended to heavy petting. Which is so outrageous it is banned at public swimming baths.
And, really getting their freak on, some people dressed up in costumes! One man was dressed up as a… bunny. A full bunny suit, it seems, not a sexy bunny costume that you'd expect to see at the Playboy Mansion.
Worse was to come: people allegedly took drugs. But no ordinary drugs. They allegedly took an "enhanced" version of ecstasy's main chemical component, MDMA, that was called – get this – Tesla. It was called that because, apparently, it was super fast acting. And none other than Elon Musk was present at this filthy sex party! It's true – he's admitted himself! But left before anything happened.
If you're feeling underwhelmed at this point, you're not that only one. So far it sounds like a not-very-good house party from university days. A pile of pillows, some crap costumes, and someone pretending they have some super drug. Hardly the Marquis de Sade.
Have you ever noticed how Painboy and Alex Jones have never actually been seen together?