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Could this be the peak of the venture capital cycle?


Is Juicero our decade's or Webvan? Ellen Huet and Olivia Zaleski of Bloomberg make a compelling case that it is.

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. [...] Tech blogs have dubbed it a “Keurig for juice.

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. [...] In Bloomberg’s squeeze tests, hands did the job quicker, but the device was slightly more thorough. Reporters were able to wring 7.5 ounces of juice in a minute and a half. The machine yielded 8 ounces in about two minutes. [...]

Yikes. At $400, that's one large, white, slow, expensive bag squeezer.

In an interview with technology website Recode, he [Doug Evans, Juicero's founder] likened his work to the invention of a mainstream personal computer by Apple’s Jobs. “There are 400 custom parts in here,” Evans told Recode. “There’s a scanner; there’s a microprocessor; there’s a wireless chip, wireless antenna.[...]

Evans secured funding in 2014 by showing 3D-printed renderings of the product without a working prototype, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they signed nondisclosure agreements.[...]

The real story here, of course, is that we seem to be in the late stages of a long and profitable cycle of venture capital (VC) investing. But now competition for new deals is large and flush with cash, but new, good ideas are scarce, as usual. Juicera received $118.5 million over four funding rounds from some of the largest, most sophisticated VC firms in the business, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Alphabet, Google's venture capital arm.