Shortly before Juicero announced a $70 million funding round, one of its investors told me he thought the cold-pressed-juice maker was going to make juice that would change the world.
I never tried a Juicero juice, and now that the company is shutting down, it looks like I never will.
Launched in San Francisco in 2013, Juicero raised more than $100 million in less than three years from Silicon Valley investors — including Google and Kleiner Perkins — who believed that juice made from a machine connected to the internet would be superior to all other juices. Initially the Juicero machine was going to cost $699, a price point from which it later retreated.
Bloomberg revealed this past April that you could successfully hand-squeeze Juicero’s proprietary juice packs. This came as a rude surprise to some of Juicero’s investors, who had invested in the company on the premise that there was something special about the way its machines pressed juice; Bloomberg found “squeezing the bag yields nearly the same amount of juice just as quickly — and in some cases, faster — than using the device.”
For those who looked, there were signs that not all was hunky dory at Juicero well before the squeezing crisis. In October of last year, the company swapped out its mascot and founding CEO Doug Evans for a former Coca-Cola executive — a tried and sometimes true method of restoring order to a troubled company.
In July, the company cut its staff by 25 percent and said that Evans was being put in a board seat while further withdrawing from the day-to-day operations of the company.
More broadly, Juicero stood as a symbol of Silicon Valley excess and a culture of frothy investment, attracting scorn from across the internet. Evans once compared himself to Steve Jobs. An investor at Google’s venture capital arm called it “the most complicated business that I’ve ever funded.” Even Ivanka Trump tweeted about it.
But in the end, the company’s management decided to cut the juice loose. Juicero did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Fortune reports that it hopes to find a buyer.