Breakfast is a pretty simple concept. First and most important meal of the day, eggs, coffee, maybe some bacon, bam. But Silicon Valley has a knack for aiming to simplify even the most basic aspects of life and, well, maybe not making them simpler, but certainly provide topics for us to roast on Twitter.
Breakfast was not immune to the tech bro treatment, and hoo boy, was 2017 a doozy.
The mug that tried way, way too hard
Ember is a ceramic mug with a built-in battery-based heating system. You know, instead of like, a lid. Sure, we want our coffee to stay hot—that's why thermoses exist—but come on. Plus, how long does it take to drink a dang cup of coffee? Are you timing your sips at every half hour? And how gross would coffee be if it was just sitting, constantly being reheated, for eight hours? Here’s an idea: If you take eight hours to drink your coffee like some kind of monster, why not just make more coffee? So many questions, so little time.
Juicero, the $400 juicer
Juicero had a very short life, and every second of it was spent being totally owned online. That's because no one in their right mind would drop that kind of cash on a juicing machine—especially one that is terrible at making juice, to the point where it was easier to just use your bare hands to squeeze the Juicero packets instead of buying the actual machine.
Nevertheless, the geniuses at Silicon Valley soldiered on with blind confidence, even claiming it’d be the Keurig of green juice. Not so, because after just 16 months in the biz, Juicero folded in September.
Teforia, the Juicero of tea
Ok, I warmed you up with Juicero to prepare you for this one: Teforia is an internet-connected tea brewing device with pre-packaged teas (obnoxiously dubbed "sips") and an "infusion globe" that the company said was "hand blown by a glass artisan." It folded one month after Juicero.
Pivotal product manager Jay Hum wrote in an essay for Harvard Business Review that everyone to get free breakfast at work. Sure, that sounds great in theory, but you know what they say about free lunches—and the same applies for breakfast. The cost here is that you’d have to have a cultish breakfast with all your coworkers every damn morning. "It gives Pivotal employees and clients a daily window to discuss what they are currently working on, share war stories, and help each other," Hum wrote.
Nah, I’m good.
Ok, this one has a better intention—vegans should be able to eat the ever-versatile egg, right? Except it took Hampton Creek a whopping four years to develop their eggless egg, which Business Insider said "didn't taste quite like eggs, but wasn't bad." They’re made with mung beans, which, ew. Also, let's not forget that the company allegedly bought its own product to artificially inflate their sales.
Yep, it’s a smart salt shaker—except SIlicon Valley calls it "the world's first interactive centerpiece."You’d think that means it would somehow automatically dispense the perfect amount of salt for your meal, but nope—you still gotta shake it. It’s just equipped with Bluetooth and a fancy light, so you can shake it while listening to music and being diffused in a weird glow.
Ahh, now to get into the food services that just made everything more difficult. First up is SpoonRocket, an on-demand pre-made meal delivery service, which shut down despite the $13.5 million it raised. Perhaps it’s because the service focused on fast delivery and cheap meals over quality, which just provided gross food for consumers. Then, after shutting down, co-founder Steven Hsiao pointed customers to competitor Sprig. Speaking of which...
Sprig raised a whopping $56.7 million to deliver on its premise—cooking and delivering gourmet meals, including various brunch options. Sounds too good to be true, right? Yep. Suddenly, the service shut down (sensing a theme here?). “No question, I’m sad that the Sprig model did not work out,” CEO Gagan Biyani said in an email circulated to the app’s users. “The demand for Sprig’s convenient, high-quality food was always incredibly high, but the complexity of owning meal production through delivery at scale was a challenge.”
Ah, ladies and gentlemen, we close with the kicker. In September, Guardian published an article about Silicon Valley techies who don’t only skip breakfast, but every meal, for literal days. And yes, they had a bad techbro name for it: “biohacking.”
“The first day I felt so hungry I was going to die,” said Phil Libin, the CEO of AI studio All Turtles. “The second day I was starving. But I woke up on the third day feeling better than I had in 20 years.”
That third day was your body realizing that resistance to stupidity is futile, man.