Juicero is a failed startup that raised over $200M for an at-home juicer, that didn’t even make juice. The image relies on the illusion of fancy data analytics, and tech “features”, which are totally bypassed by simply squeezing the juice by hand. What’s left is an expensive product and fancy design that added no value but burned incredible amounts of cash.
Using Casper’s own visual language, this illustration explores how a company that makes a beautiful, functional product with a great user experience still struggles with profitability. Without the Venture Capital fairy visiting every customer and sliding some cash under their pillow, there would be no beds, nobody peacefully sleeping, and most importantly; no cutesy marketing to desperately search for new customers. Perhaps hiding cash is the mattress was a better investment after all.
Peloton markets a better you, through them. With an investment in a luxury home bike and workout system, you can work on self-improvement and (not so) low-key Instagram flexing at the same time. Much like the action of peddling a bicycle fixed on the spot, the real goal is to get customers bonded and devoted to the Peloton lifestyle, pushing an endless recurring subscription that far outpaces the bike when it comes to customer lifetime value.
AirBNB (Airbed&Breakfast, originally) has grown into a monolithic force for tourism and short-term rental, but the convenience and promise of easy income has masked the real AirBNB effect: hyper speed gentrification, inflation of house prices, and damage to local rental markets globally. How can you experience life like a local if there are no locals left?
WeWork promised “The future of work”, but the problem is that WeWork simply doesn’t work. No amount of buzz words, happy hours, and motivation murals could save this previously darling unicorn valued at $ 47 Billion from the foundational lie of a physical real estate company posing as a limitless tech firm, and the cult of an inept and deceitful CEO.
“Jump Of Faith”
From scrappy tech mobility startup to an Uber subsidiary and scrapheap of beautiful bicycles, Jump Bikes is the epitome of how even when tech firms innovate and succeed, they can still lose. The Jump rider is doing a stunt at full speed, looking and acting like a real unicorn (valuation exceeding $1Bn) leaping into blue skies, but the moment when the leap turns into a plummet is captured, with their hands off the bars and the inevitable heap below. All sponsored of course, by Uber.
When it comes to music streaming, it doesn’t get more bullish than the publicly traded startup darling, Spotify. It may be a wonderful experience for listeners, but the service is a pressure cooker for artists, paying out just hundredths of a cent to the license holder (not artist) per listen. This illusion of value for artists is depicted through the ancient torture device known as the Brazen Bull, where victims are locked inside and slowly cooked, with their screams distorted through special pipes to make the bull roar and entertain the crowd of listeners.
Uber is everywhere. Affordable ride sharing and incredible convenience has made it one of the most well-known startups in history. The reality is that nothing is truly affordable, it’s just that someone else is paying for it. This image depicts how Uber is actually propped up completely by VC money (about 1/3 of each ride), but that cash-burning furnace is spun as “affordable” and “easy” to customers. The illusion of accessible, cheap tech is sustained by venture capital endlessly gambling that they are backing the next jackpot, and they’re happy to put money on any horse in the race.