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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Silicon Valley's $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze (bloomberg.com) 359

An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: One of the most lavishly funded gadget startups in Silicon Valley last year was Juicero Inc. It makes a juice machine. The product was an unlikely pick for top technology investors, but they were drawn to the idea of an internet-connected device that transforms single-serving packets of chopped fruits and vegetables into a refreshing and healthy beverage. Doug Evans, the company's founder, would compare himself with Steve Jobs in his pursuit of juicing perfection. He declared that his juice press wields four tons of force -- "enough to lift two Teslas," he said. Google's venture capital arm and other backers poured about $120 million into the startup. Juicero sells the machine for $400, plus the cost of individual juice packs delivered weekly. 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.
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Silicon Valley's $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze

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  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:05PM (#54263459)

    Here I thought you would stick fruit containers in it, and it would pulp them up. But using bags of... juice? Did no one along the line wonder what the device was actually for?

    • by religionofpeas ( 4511805 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:11PM (#54263525)

      Or even better, you could just eat the fruit. Not so messy, more fiber and better filling.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Silicon Valley is one of the weirdest places you can visit on Earth.

      Strange things happen when you take naive, out-of-touch leftists and then give them huge amounts of money that they didn't really earn in any meaningful way.

      For example, you end up with a city like San Francisco that's supposedly "liberal" and has immense financial wealth, yet it also has the highest concentration of homeless in America. What's worse, they aren't just homeless, but they act in the most uncivilized ways possible. They urinat

      • SF != SI valley

        Geographically close.

        There are a few companies in the new generation that have setup in SF, but it's not SanJose.

      • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:59PM (#54263975) Homepage

        Strange things happen when you take naive, out-of-touch leftists and then give them huge amounts of money that they didn't really earn in any meaningful way.

        And then they become Republicans.

        When visitors come to Silicon Valley, one of the first things they notice is that they're saying "What the fuck?!" to themselves constantly.

        Silicon Valley != San Francisco

        • And then they become Republicans.

          There are about as many Republicans in CA as there are pink unicorns with gold plated horns. Which explains why the last senate elections was between TWO DEMOCRATS, rather than the (D) vs (R) that one has everywhere else

          • by creimer ( 824291 )

            There are about as many Republicans in CA as there are pink unicorns with gold plated horns.

            While the CA Republicans have more in common with the endangered spotted owl than 1/10th of the US population. Republican fundraisers still swing by to pick up checks from Silicon Valley companies..

            Stock for stock and dollar for dollar, Silicon Valley companies give more political donations to Republicans than Democrats, and are more likely to have right-leaning stockholders to boot, according to a new report by news site The Daily Dot. This runs contrary to Silicon Valley's reputation as waving the banner of American liberalism but the numbers don't lie.

            http://www.businessinsider.com/silicon-valley-gives-more-to-republicans-than-democrats-2015-3 [businessinsider.com]

            • by guises ( 2423402 )
              Oh, bless your heart. Someone told you that Republicans were scarce in California, and you believed them... Why? 31% of voters in California are Republicans, compared to 45% Democrats. In fact, according to the Public Policy Institute of California [ppic.org] more Californians identify as Conservative than Liberal: 36% vs 35%. It's just that, thanks to the magic of the Electoral College, their opinions and votes don't matter in presidential elections. Bribes, of course, are always welcome from anyone though. Er, "camp
    • The key is to get Gwyneth Paltrow to tell her followers that this thing is the most awesome device ever created: http://goop.com/the-coolest-in... [goop.com]

    • Here I thought you would stick fruit containers in it, and it would pulp them up. But using bags of... juice? Did no one along the line wonder what the device was actually for?

      It's hidden down in the article text; the bags of juice are sold only to people who bought the bag squeezer machine (I can't bring myself to call it a juicer) for $400. Brilliant if you can get enough people to buy in to that model.

  • The Pico Brewer is almost a 1000 dollars for a machine that homebrews beer. I just don't see spending that kind of money on something that could be home built for substantially less.
    • Or you can use the $1000 to go buy beer off the shelf.

      • I kind of liked home brewing. But home bottle sterilizing was a fucking bore.

        • by Altus ( 1034 )

          If you are going to homebrew in any significant volume, you just have to move to a kegging system. Bottles are awful, but kegs (and fridge and a co2 rig) are a significant extra expense in what is otherwise a fairly inexpensive hobby.

        • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

          I kind of liked home brewing. But home bottle sterilizing was a fucking bore.

          That's why I started kegging after a couple or three years. Sanitizing the bottles wasn't too bad (a trip through the dishwasher would suffice, either with heated drying or (if available) the sanitizing option enabled), but it's much easier and faster to fill one keg than 50+ bottles. You can also dry-hop in a keg.

    • I looked up a review of that thing... it sounds like it is for people that want to home brew but are scared to screw it up, but from the write up it actually doesn't sound any easier to do. It must have a fairly narrow market.
    • by Kagato ( 116051 )

      Pico Brew has always struck me as a machine for a professional brewer that wants to make very specific test batches quickly with the ability to reproduce them ad hoc. In particular if you have other duties and don't want to babysit. But for a $1000 you can get several all grain systems that make full 5 gallon batches. They are not as automated as the PICO brew but I'm looking at quantity, not fully automated.

      • That depends on which one. The original Zymatic is what you described, and was interesting in that you could easily control temperature at the different stages so it was reproducible and you could try small tweaks and see what happens.

        They also make a different machine that use a pod like system. I'm not sure how easy it is to run your own recipes with it as I didn't bother following it.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:07PM (#54263485)

    ... 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.

    ... from some Fleshlight investors.

  • ...were drawn to the idea of an internet-connected device that transforms...

    ...Plants into juice. You absolutely can't compete in the 'juicer space" without internet connectivity; I wonder WTF their competitors were even thinking...

    • by nwf ( 25607 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:18PM (#54263589)

      This article and the recent ones about Tilt makes me thing that these "investors" decide where to invest almost entirely based on how dynamic and likable the pitchman is, nothing else.

      As for this juicer, you can buy frozen fruit at Costco and juice or make smoothies for pennies on the dollar of this product. But too any good juice or smoothie is just too sweet to be healthy in the first place. Another "health food" gimmick as are almost all of these diets, supplements, programs and devices.

    • I wonder WTF their competitors were even thinking...

      I think one of their competitors was thinking "will it blend?".

      I wonder if you can get bags of pre-chopped iPads for the juciero so it can compete with the Blendtec.

    • Hopefully someone will come up with a slick version of russian roulette, that way we can skip the diabetes and other expensive and boring side effects of consumerism.
  • Too much sugar and it rots your teeth. There is a reason your grandma had those little juice cups that were a bit bigger than a shot glass.
  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:15PM (#54263557) Homepage
    Back in the old days. a pair of HP engineers put in purchase order for a Saturn V rocket launcher and it got all the way to VP before it got cancel. These days you can combine a toaster with an iPhone, call it iToast, and no one will think twice about throwing money at it.
    • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:25PM (#54263663)

      Thankfully stories like this are a sign that serious air is coming out of the startup bubble. The fervor from just 2-3 years ago has settled down, and now you see at least a little more skepticism when someone pitches iToast type BS.

      At this point anything "internet connected" or controlled by an app has lower value to me. I want simple crap that works, with REAL buttons/knobs, can't get malware, doesn't require constant updates, can't get "orphaned". Less is more.

      • I really can't see a need for anything in my house to be Internet connected. Now, locally networked without the ability to route traffic to or from the rest of the world? Sure, there are things that might be interesting to network if it was inexpensive enough to do, maintenance-free, easy to set up, and wouldn't cripple the device if the connectivity portion failed.

        Think about a fridge that constantly reports to a home monitoring appliance so it can give energy usage stats, maybe to let you know the door

      • During the first dotcom, I thought the toaster that printed a weather map on the toast was actually one of the better ideas. But that was before ubiquitous smartphones.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      When I worked for GE a couple of engineers invented a "flame emitting diode", basically an LED that they poured lighter fluid on and lit. If I recall correctly it was published in Electronic Engineering Times (albeit as a humorous article). Today they could rich on an idea like that assuming it was internet enabled.
  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:17PM (#54263573)
    It's not a juicer if it doesn't even make juice. All it's doing is squeezing already made juice out of a fancy bag. So if anything, it is a $400 (after the price drop, looks like it was originally $700) juice dispenser, not juicer. Looking at the photos in the article, it looks like what we would have if CapriSun was made by Apple.
    • Maybe they can sell it to garages to lift up Teslas ?

    • Maybe I missed it but what's the plan after the bag gets used for a single serving anyway? Do you then have to remove the bag and place it back into the fridge? This after having to first remove it from the fridge in the first place, put it in the machine and then place you glass under it. Couldn't they just sell jugs of juice that you could put in your fridge, pull out and pour a single glass? Have we become such a lazy society that pouring a glass of juice is too much?
    • All it's doing is squeezing already made juice out of a fancy bag.

      All a regular juicer does is squeeze already-made juice out of a fruit, so...

    • by MattskEE ( 925706 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @01:48PM (#54264389)

      The bags are not filled with juice, they are filled with pre-chopped fruit and/or vegetable pieces. Or at least that's the idea behind the bags. I have a little difficulty believing that you could hand squeeze vegetables as effectively as a machine, but fruit should be easy enough.

      But at $5-8 per bag, a $400 machine or one to two minutes of hand squeezing I don't really find this compelling. I'm sure the juice is delicious but it costs more than I spend on my whole lunch.

  • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:19PM (#54263603) Journal
    Too many people fall for the 'jucing' meme every year, which is why shitty companies keep producing them. You want to eat healthier and be healthier? Eat whole fruits and vegetables instead. Goal attained, and you saved hundreds of dollars in the process. You're welcome.
    • 'Jucers'

      I'd like to take a moment to express how much I HATE, HATE HATE the keyboard on this gods-be-damned Lenovo notebook they stuck me with at my job. :-(

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      A much healthier choice, if you want your fruits, veggies and other similar things in liquid form, is a good old blender. The modern, more expensive stuff can turn fruits into a very fine paste. Add water or milk and you have a fresh, healthy and quick beverage. All the fibers remain in the drink, all the nutrients are preserved, but you get to make the mixes you want too.
      • by asavage ( 548758 )
        Yeah exactly. A juicer gives you basically the water and sugars from the fruit with all the healthy stuff removed. A blended juice/smoothie gives you the whole fruit.
        • A blended juice/smoothie gives you the whole fruit.

          You're still likely to overconsume it, compared to chewing the whole fruit. You can juice 4 apples into a single beverage that you can drink in 15 seconds, but eat a single apple, and you probably had enough.

          • Yeah. Satiety has at least as much to do with the act of eating something, how long it takes, how much effort it takes, etc, as it does with the food itself. Also it takes time for your brain to register satiety.
    • You want to eat healthier and be healthier? Eat whole fruits and vegetables instead.

      And no need to go crazy on the fruit either, since most fruit is very high on sugar, and low on nutrients.

      • And no need to go crazy on the fruit either, since most fruit is very high on sugar, and low on nutrients.

        I wouldn't exactly say it's "low on nutrients," and the amount of sugar depends on the fruit. And part of the issue is how we tend to define "fruit" which is not a botanical definition but one seemingly mostly based on sweetness. If you include the varieties of botanical fruits (from cucumbers to peapods), "fruits" in general have a great variety of nutrients and aren't necessarily very sweet. And a lot of how your body processes the sugar has to do with what else you consume with it. A whole fruit at l

    • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @12:39PM (#54263767) Homepage Journal

      People don't want to choke down 2 raw carrots and a cup of kale every day when they can slam it with some apple juice in one gulp.

      • People don't want to choke down 2 raw carrots and a cup of kale every day when they can slam it with some apple juice in one gulp.

        Yeah, that "with some apple juice" part bugs me. It drives me a little nuts when you see those expensive "juice blends" sold at the store claiming to be full of veggies and labeled "green goodness" or "green goddess" or whatever.

        Except a lot of times there's mostly high sugar apple or pear juice or whatever.

        I get that most people like sweet stuff compared to savory stuff. But I think a lot of that is cultural conditioning. Stop eating a lot of products with added sugar for a while, and suddenly even

    • Too many people are fallin into the fruits-and-vegetables meme every year. These types of foodstuffs tend to be mediocre in nutritional value, high in sugars, and heavily-imbalanced in nutrient profile. Generally, fruits and vegetables overload one nutrient (magnesium, calcium, a particular vitamin profile) and are anemic in another, requiring a complex and varied diet to obtain a complete nutrient profile; it's incredibly-common for mostly-vegetable consumers to end up deficient in a critical nutrient.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 )

        Animal sources of Vitamin C include certain organ meats such as goat liver

        I'm working on a $400 WiFi-connected machine for juicing goat livers.

        Upgrade to the $800 machine and you can juice the whole goat, which has more fiber.

  • So you buy packets of fruit instead of going to a farmer's market for locally grown organic fruit? Seems like they don't understand the target demographic of juice-a-holics.

    • It looked like just packets of juice in the article... fruit cups might've made sense on some level. I think you could replicate this with a can crusher and packs of Hi-C.
  • and who is stupid enough to think all my kitchen appliances need internet connections, sheesh only an idiot would pay 400 dollars for a juicer, these fools deserve to go bankrupt,
  • are soon squeezed dry?

  • TFA says that Alphabet is one of the investors in this miraculous juice technology.

  • So the real purpose of the article? Create a trumped up controversy in order to generate hype before the IPO. Everyone is supposed to think the stock is cheap because of the controversy while thinking they are the clever one who sees the business model will work because the consumables are what matter. When everyone is the clever "one" they all buy the stock and the original investors get the profits.

    *yawn*
  • by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Wednesday April 19, 2017 @02:04PM (#54264519)

    I don't know which is worse: that a company exists that thinks there are people stupid enough to pay ten times what this thing is worth, or that that there are enough stupid people in the country that will pay that outrageous price to support such a company.

    With my $40 blender, I can make a frosty, 40-ounce Organic slushy by adding ice and about $3.00 worth of Organic fruits and vegetables. That's about sixty cents for an 8-ounce glass of a tasty, healthy snack in drink form.

  • Make the machine cheap and sell the consumables above cost.

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