Vending machine startup hopes to put bodegas out of business

The title of Fast Company's story is "Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete" and that's exactly what Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan intend to do. "Bodega"—an internet-of-shit vending machine designed to replace small businesses, is so comically sociopathic it would be too on-the-nose for HBO's Silicon Valley.

In fact, replacing that beloved institution seems explicit in the very name of McDonald's venture, a Spanish term synonymous with the tiny stores that dot urban landscapes and are commonly run by people originally from Latin America or Asia. Some might bristle at the idea of a Silicon Valley executive appropriating the term "bodega" for a project that could well put lots of immigrants out of work. (One of my coworkers even referred to it as "Bro-dega" to illustrate the disconnect.)

I asked McDonald point-blank about whether he's worried that the name Bodega might come off as culturally insensitive. Not really. "I'm not particularly concerned about it," he says.

A vending machine's choice and a grocery store's logistics, with "data" bridging the gulf? Maybe they'll be restocked by Ubers or Amazon drones? Hopeless. But never underestimate the power of a VC toy business to destroy the thing it cannot sustainably replace.