An earthshaking report from Bloomberg this morning threatens to destabilize one of Silicon Valley’s buzziest new ventures.
Juicero, which is a juice company, raised $120 million from investors to create and sell an internet-enabled juice press for $700. The price dropped to $400 in January. The pitch, according to company mastermind Doug Evans, is that the Juicero presses juice really hard, exerting four tons of force.
On top of spending far too much on the hardware, you need proprietary juice bags (cool word sequence!) to even get anything nutritious out of it. It’s not unlike a Keurig machine. There’s just one problem: You don’t need the juice press to get to the juice.
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.
For the record, you need to own a Juicero in order to receive the bags, which cost between $5 and $8 each. You can’t just buy them at the grocery store. The device also reads a QR code on the bag, in order to make sure the contents haven’t expired (the expiration dated is printed on the bag as well).
You might be tempted to cast the Juicero as yet another indicator of Silicon Valley utopian excess — lofty idealists solving a problem that didn’t need to be solved — and complain that Juicero is the problem. But in a rare flip, it’s the customers here who are wrong.
I love it. I love this stupid juice press for dummies. This is Silicon Valley’s version of the guy who, a couple of years ago, was selling clueless tourists a $30 hot dog at Ground Zero.
Juicero stays hustling, and I can’t help but respect it. Evans convinced people who think of themselves as some of the savviest investors in the history of fiat currency — Alphabet and KPCB among them — to give him millions to make a juice press that isn’t even necessary or considerably more efficient than squeezing a giant packet by hand.
If you thought, I need a $700 juice press I can control from my phone — or, The way-too-expensive juice press is now a highly affordable $400 — then you deserve this. I hate to say it, but it’s true. You willfully paid the absurd cost of entry into an ecosystem of first-party, DRM-equipped pulp packets.
And, hey, if you love your juice robot, more power to you.