Hey, remember last year when a bunch of well-respected tech venture capitalists simultaneously lost their collective minds and threw almost $120 million in capital at a juice hardware startup founded by the Svengali behind a failed New York chain of juice bars?
Yeah...that was hilarious.
But what if we told you that not only did Juicero survive, but that a bunch people have been quietly paying $400 a pop for these WiFi-enabled machines that work with a smartphone app and QR codes on proprietary bags to make...juice? And that the company has even enlisted Katy Perry to pimp its product at Coachella? Yeah, we didn't believe it either, but IT'S TRUE!
Luckily for us though, this story has a predictably stupid twist.
But after the product hit the market, some investors were surprised to discover a much cheaper alternative: You can squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands. Two backers said the final device was bulkier than what was originally pitched and that they were puzzled to find that customers could achieve similar results without it. Bloomberg performed its own press test, pitting a Juicero machine against a reporter’s grip. The experiment found that squeezing the bag yields nearly the same amount of juice just as quickly—and in some cases, faster—than using the device.
This is almost too good. Can Juicero explain?
Juicero declined to comment. A person close to the company said Juicero is aware the packs can be squeezed by hand but that most people would prefer to use the machine because the process is more consistent and less messy. The device also reads a QR code printed on the back of each produce pack and checks the source against an online database to ensure the contents haven’t expired or been recalled, the person said. The expiration date is also printed on the pack.
So, yeah, no they can't. Because when you somehow convince some of the biggest names on Sand Hill Road to throw millions at your magical machine that turns bespoke bags of fruits and vegetables into juice using tech, it looks pretty bad when those bags end up containing - like - fuckingjuice.
When Juicero first launched and released its deep roster of bold name investors throwing buckets of money at it, we thought that was a sufficient self-satire of Silicon Valley thinking. This new revelation about Juicero's main selling point being borderline useless adds a level of darker, edgier humor to that satire. But this being Silicon Valley, there's always a chance to disrupt and improve the joke.
Take it away, Juicero investor:
Doug Chertok, a Juicero investor, said he figured it out on his own. “There is no doubt the packs can be squeezed without the machine,” he said. “I’m still a huge fan.” Chertok, whose Vast Ventures is also a backer of popular organic restaurant chain Sweetgreen, said Juicero’s approach to delivering cheap organic produce could be valuable. He said the company is a “platform” for a new model of food delivery, where fresh fruits and veggies are delivered regularly to the home. “Juicero is still figuring out its sweet spot,” he said. “I have no doubt that they’ll be very successful.”
Since it seems increasingly clear that Juicero's sweet spot is getting its investors to engage in radical forms of denial about Juicero, we have to agree that success is right around the corner.