"Bodega" Represents What’s Wrong With Tech Funding, though It Won’t Kill Your Actual Bodega

“Never leave your WeWork again!” (Photo by Bodega)

The founders of Bodega, a new vending appurtenance startup that wants to reinstate preference stores, substantially didn’t design a internet to immediately and vociferously hatred them. But they should have. The title of their launch-day essay in Fast Company—“Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete”—isn’t unfair. FC quotes co-founder Paul McDonald directly: “Eventually, centralized selling locations won’t be necessary, since there will be 100,000 Bodegas widespread out, with one always 100 feet divided from you.”

Bodega is a sequence of internet-enabled vending machines located in gyms, dorms, and unit buildings. Each five-foot “pantry box,” unlockable with a mobile app, contains non-perishable equipment that we squeeze simply by grabbing.


The startup substantially doesn’t have a chance, in partial since many startups don’t have a chance. (But who knows! No one knows anything.) Still, either or not they succeed, they will temporarily be in assign of a lot of money, as a prerogative for presenting a certain prophesy to a certain set of people.

And to many onlookers, Bodega’s prophesy seems distasteful; it’s one where we leave a residence less, where a day includes one reduction tellurian interaction. And distinct other “disruptive” technologies, a usually ostensible creation here is fewer trips to a dilemma store. That’s a sum sum of a new value Bodega brings to a world. (Bodega also promises “customized items” that change from plcae to location—this is what bodegas already do.) It’s not nothing! But what does it ask in return?

For Bodega to succeed, to make a kind of income Silicon Valley investors demand, it would need to take income divided from a stores that now sell these items. Mostly that’s grocery stores and CVS. In certain vital cities, it’s a genuine bodegas that Bodega named itself after, clearly an try to co-opt a certain and “authentic” associations we make with a accessible dilemma bodega in use of corporate profit.


Besides being in shockingly bad ambience (and attempting to re-route your income from a local, expected immigrant-owned business and behind to Silicon Valley), this is also a questionable-at-best business plan. As all of Twitter forked out, besides keep your income local, genuine bodegas are most some-more than hulk vending machines; they competence sell we a lax cigarette, a dirt-cheap coffee, or a uninformed egg sandwich. They competence reason your gangling pivotal or remember your common sequence or contend a initial “hello” we hear that day. They competence follow divided a male perplexing to follow we home. And even as vending machines, they’re most improved during storing your favorite code of toothbrush, or 12-packs of Cottonelle, or uninformed produce.

All these advantages meant that bodegas substantially can’t be kick this easily. The quick recoil is substantially overstating a threat. But it’s not overstating what Bodega, a founders, and a investors wish would happen, or a discouraging fact that over and over again, Silicon Valley investors flow income into companies like Bodega, that don’t emanate value though merely trifle it around. Among a new stand of unicorns, even those that yield new value to a patron are destroying vital value elsewhere. Uber isn’t only a improved approach to hoop cab rides, it’s also a corner that will eventually dump a workforce in preference of self-driving cars. Airbnb isn’t only assisting people make an additional sire or find a place to stay; it’s also pulling adult rents and eroding a taxation base.

This isn’t shocking. About 10 years ago we all started removing mobile internet, a technological creation so large that Silicon Valley is still anticipating all a mercantile implications. But by doing so, they’re de-prioritizing a subsequent technological innovation. They’re working like sidestep funds, extracting and redistributing value by compliance existent industries, while perfectionist to be seen as talent philanthropists fighting to make a universe a improved place. (See also: Lyft radically re-inventing… a bus.)

But, as BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith recently wrote, we’re all starting to see by that: “The tech attention has also benefited for years from a enemies, who it cast—often accurately—as Luddites who honestly didn’t know a array of tubes they were repetition about, or protectionist industries that didn’t wish a best for consumers. That, too, is over.” Now domestic total on a left and right see these companies, and their investors, for what they are: only another turn of Gilded Age pirate barons roving high on a once ideal guarantee of their categorical innovation, now squeezing a final exhale out of a rest of a economy.

With their haphazard appropriative selling and their pithy hazard to a business owners they wish to mimic, a founders of Bodega walked right into this characterization. Bodega wants to kill your bodega, and they will roughly really fail; don’t worry about that. But do worry about because they didn’t even consider we would be mad, and who gave them all that income in a initial place.

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Posted by on Sep 13 2017. Filed under Gadgets. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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