Silicon Valley may well be running out of juice, as streams of venture capital dry up and some San Franciscans root for a cooling-off period. But investors like Google Ventures (GV, as it's now called), Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and more Sand Hill Road VC firms are pressing on — pumping $120 million of funding into a literal juice startup.
Juicero, explains the New York Times with eyebrow raised high above monocle, is the product of raw vegan entrepreneur Doug Evans. Well, not quite raw — “occasionally I eat steamed vegetables, to not be dogmatic," he says.
After some years running a New York juicery, Evans created a Wi-Fi enabled, QR code-reading juicer and a delivery business to supply it like a Keurig coffee machine. The Braun-beautiful $700 machine, which launches next week, works like this:
The machine itself is a white plastic slab roughly the size of a food processor. To get some juice, you insert a pouch that resembles an IV bag and press a button. A couple of minutes later, a thin stream of vividly colored liquid squirts into a glass.
To make a glass of juice, you insert a pack ($4 to $10 each) into the machine, close the door and press a button. There are five flavors including Sweet Roots (carrot, beet, orange, lemon and apple) and Spicy Greens (pineapple, romaine, celery, cucumber, spinach, parsley and jalapeño).
Sorry, mischaracterized Juicero back there. It's not a juicer. It's a "platform." Juicero triple washes, cuts, and prepares the produce you're about to juice, packaging it and sending it to your door. Place that package in the juicer, which will read its QR code and look up how to prepare it on the Internet, or something. The result? Gold? Diamonds? No. Better. Eight ounces of juice.
“Organic cold-pressed juice is rainwater filtered through the soil and the roots and the stems and the plants,” Evans said of his end product. “You extract the water molecules, the chlorophyll, the anthocyanin and the flavonoids and the micronutrients. You’re getting this living nutrition. It’s like drinking the nectar of the earth.”
In a Series A financing round, Juicero raised $16.5 million, which wasn't enough, so in subsequent funding rounds it's received $70 and then $28 million more — so far.
“It’s the most complicated business that I’ve ever funded,” David Krane, a partner at GV, told the Times “It’s software. It’s consumer electronics. It’s produce and packaging.”
Sorry to burst your bubble, folks, but as the Times observes, juice might just be a fad — one notably popular among Silicon Valley investor types themselves, perhaps explaining their passion. Health benefits from juice are unclear at best, as is the product's staying power. Last year, juice retail went down two percent from 2014, suggesting a plateau in popularity.
Finally, Juicero is entering an amusingly crowded market. Just last year, Y Combinator squeezed out LivBlends, profiled here by the corporate portrait artists at Techcrunch, which looks like the exact same thing.
[sips Soylent] But that's none of my business.
Related: All SFist coverage of Soylent