If you're a fan of HBO's Silicon Valley then I'm sure you're looking forward to the season four premiere on Sunday night. I know I am.
The show centers around a fictional tech company called Pied Piper located in -- you guessed where -- and its protagonists include Erlich Bachman, Richard Hendricks, Gordon Felson and a bunch of other narcissistic, self-centered, arrogant tech "geniuses." They keep promising to "make the world a better place" with their incredible technology, yet are routinely unable to talk to women, boil a cup of tea or handle most normal social situations.
It's a hilarious show. But if you can't wait until Sunday, don't you worry. There's a bunch of other Silicon Valley people who are just as funny to watch as our friends on the TV show. Their story is true and you can watch it right now. Have you heard?
These are the people behind the "Juicero" machine, developed by Doug Evans, a real life Erlich Bachman. "Juicero" will remind Silicon Valley fans of Aviato, Bachman's failed airline booking aggregator startup. We're never quite sure if Aviato does anything useful, and we can't be sure about the Juicero either.
According to Bloomberg, the gadget is an "internet-connected device that transforms single-serving packets of chopped fruits and vegetables into a refreshing and healthy beverage." It’s the “Keurig for Juice”! It all sounds so cool and techie that Evan’s company has raised more than $120 million from a bunch of Silicon Valley investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google's Alphabet Inc. Having bought into the idea, they have proved themselves to be as dopey and comical as the investors from Raviga Capital, the fictional VC firm from the TV show.
Why? Because this week it was demonstrated that anyone can just as easily and in less time -- with bare hands, mind you -- wring about as much juice from the pre-packaged fruit bags as the Juicero does. Not only that, but the "internet capabilities" of the Juicero -- which are surely what romanced the community of tech investors -- is reporting on the same nutritional information that is on the label already attached to each bag of fruit. What’s even funnier is Evans’ description of the product: “There are 400 custom parts in here,” he once said. “There’s a scanner; there’s a microprocessor; there’s a wireless chip, wireless antenna.” Wow, is there a data compression algorithm just like Pied Piper’s?
Juicero CEO Jeff Dunn insisted the machine, which costs a whopping $400 (reduced from its original $700 price but don’t forget the weekly cost of its “Produce Packs”) is still an "incredible value" and a "great experience" that will not only save us time but, through its state-of-the-art wireless technology, be able to "remotely disable Produce Packs if there is, for example, a spinach recall.” Phew!
And here I was waiting for Silicon Valley to start on Sunday. C’mon HBO, just admit that the Juicero story is a funny marketing stunt to promote the TV show. Ha ha. Please? Erlich Bachman, it’s you, right?
Oh. This is not a TV show. These people exist and they really did raise $120 million. It seems like those brilliant, Stanford-educated, latte-drinking, BMW-driving, tech savants who think of themselves as geniuses changing the world aren't nearly as smart as they believe they are. If you're ever in negotiation with one of these people, just remember Erlich Bachman and the Juicero story to put things into perspective. It will remind you that you may very well be the only one in the room with some common sense -- particularly if that room is somewhere in Silicon Valley.