How many people would buy a $400 Wi-Fi-enabled juicing machine? Not enough people, that's for sure, because the company that made it has announced that it's shutting down just a little over a year after launching.
A company called Juicero, maker of cold-press juicing machines, will officially shutter its doors soon. It amassed tons of funding early on — over $118.5 million — alongside heaps of consumer zeal, partly because any household gadget with internet connectivity features will almost always get some attention.
Its product, the Juicero machine, is the perfect shorthand for Silicon Valley startup horror stories. First, there's the promise — Juicero's was: a dedicated internet-of-things device, around the size of a Keurig, that juices vegetables and fruits. Then, there's the support: it got backing, it got money, and it got hype — the magic 3 of viral marketing, some would say.
Juicero: The Downfall
All was well; the Juicero worked as advertised. The machine itself, then a costly $699 slab of plastic, had a panel you're supposed to open and put ready-made vegetable and fruit packs in. These packs were delivered by Juicero to owners, which cost extra. You couldn't buy these packs if you didn't own the Juicero machine.
Then last April, Bloomberg rang the death knell. It published a video demonstrating that one can actually squeeze the packs by hand and produce the same amount of juice — sometimes at a faster rate than the juicer, even. It showed that the Juicer, which at that point cost $400, was completely and absolutely unnecessary.
Following The Footsteps Of Steve Jobs
From promise to hype to downfall. Zeal turned into skepticism, then into full-on mockery. This is the short timeline of Juicero's stint. Its CEO, Doug Evans, had great ambitions. He wanted to be the brainchild behind the juicer of all juicers; he wanted to make a Steve Jobs-inspired juice press, he told Recode in an interview.
"What happened is I knew too much. Like at that point I knew too much about quality. I knew that the best juice was juice made in that moment. And so I became obsessed," is just one of the many notable passages from that same interview.
"I'm going to do what Steve [Jobs] did. I'm going to take the mainframe computer and create a personal computer, I'm going to take a mainframe juice press and I'm going to create a personal juice press," says another one.
Juicero was supposed to be the Keurig of juicers, the de facto gadgetry for hipster-vegans with some cash to spare. But after Bloomberg's damning video, the promise was deflated. They realized it was nothing more than a glorified presser, and worse, yet another example of Silicon Valley's blindness for snakeoil.
All Juicero customers have up to 90 days to request a refund of the Juicero.