Greeting cards Silicon Valley geeks will surely appreciate

Designer Irina Blok lives in Silicon Valley and is the creator of Google's now-iconic green Android logo. A couple of years ago, she started producing Only in Silicon Valley, a line of on-point greeting cards for "geeks."

She writes that the cards are designed to "celebrate tech culture of Silicon Valley, without taking ourselves too seriously."

Take a look...

She's got lots more over at Zazzle. Cards are $2.96 each.

Previously: Modest Silicon Valley home breaks record for highest price paid per square foot Read the rest

Modest Silicon Valley home breaks record for highest price paid per square foot

They say that, in real estate, it's all about location, location, location. That's especially true if you're a Silicon Valley worker who wants to avoid a horrible commute.

The 848-square-foot house at 1062 Plymouth Drive in Sunnyvale is in a great location for someone in tech, as it's about a 10-minute drive to the Google, Apple, LinkedIn or Yahoo! campus.

And it just sold for $2M, a mere $550K over asking, according to KRON4.

That is $2,358 per square foot, the highest price paid per square foot ever recorded by the MLS in Sunnyvale.

The two-bedroom, two-bath house sold in just two days of being on the market, reports listing Agent Doug Larson. He told KRON4, "Well [laughs], I was kind of blown away."

The new buyer does plan to live there. He is a young, single man who works in tech.

And he paid all cash for his new home.

The Mercury News writes:

Friday morning, a realtor called Larson and told him she was sending over an offer. Larson told her his client wasn’t accepting offers until the following Wednesday, but the persistent realtor refused to take no for an answer and sent her client’s offer that afternoon.

It was too tempting to pass up — $2 million, all cash, closing in 10 days. The seller was shocked.

“She said, ‘What?'” Larson said. “She was as taken aback as I was.”

Read the rest

Bosses seed Silicon Valley Christmas parties with models who impersonate fellow employees, after briefing them with back-stories

Business is booming for Silicon Valley modeling agencies that specialize in "ambiance and atmosphere models" who are sent to company Christmas parties after being briefed with back-stories that allow them pretend to be super-good-looking fellow employees, thus lulling the workers at the company into thinking that it's a kind of haven for extremely beautiful people and raising their self-esteem. Read the rest

Toilets that you have to use an app to get into

Silicon Valley has reinvented the pay toilet. But this time, you have to use an app to get in, yielding metadata (foeterdata?) to the powers that be. Yield the who, what, when and where of your bowel movements with Good2Go, the shittiest valley startup yet. Their turd-key solution is free now, but you'll have to spend a penny later.

As photographed above by Christopher Kennedy (website), a developer from San Francisco: "Welcome to app hell. You need an app or a printed QR code to use the bathroom here. The app is “free for a limited time” so after that, I imagine they plan to disrupt pay toilets. Silicon Valley is a parody unto itself. You cannot democratize access to utilities by making a gated community of smartphone and subscriber users."

Find and securely access modern restrooms – all through your smartphone ...

Q: Do I have to pay for Good2Go if I’ve made a purchase at the café? A: No. Café patrons can ask the barista for a QR code or download the app for free. Q: How much does it cost to use the app? A: All subscriptions to Good2Go are free for a limited time! Q: Is Good2Go only available in San Francisco? A: San Francisco is now live and we will be launching in other major cities soon. Want Good2Go in your city?

The only civilized thing to do, if you encounter one of these, is to play Louis Armstrong's We Have All The Time In The World at maximum volume while taking a dump on the floor in front of it. Read the rest

$1000 smart teapot discontinued

Apparently enough people weren't smart enough to appreciate a $1000 wireless teapot that only accept proprietary tea bags. After blowing through $12 million (in a Series A round led by Translink Capital) and spending three years trying to persuade tea drinkers to ditch their dumb teapots for one that uses an algorithm that "masterfully accelerates and extracts desired sets of flavor compounds while suppressing the extraction of undesired compounds," Teforia (pronounced tay-foria) is calling it quits.

In letter similar to the one sent by Juicero's CEO to drinkers of overpriced juice, Teforia CEO expressed disappointment that people just didn't get it:

In our mission to deliver the best tea experience, we didn’t compromise on the Teforia Infuser technology, quality or the premium tea packaged within our Sips. The glass within the infusion globe and carafe are hand blown by a glass artisan, one at a time. We spent a tremendous amount of time pioneering our Sips tea container to be 90% compostable and completely recyclable. We went to these extraordinary lengths because we believe premium loose leaf tea should be delivered in the most delicate and sustainable way possible.

We believe our customers are deserving of the best. Most of you agree with us. In fact, the prestigious World Tea Expo awarded Teforia with the 2016 Best Tea Industry Innovation Award and designated Teforia as the 2017 Best Tea Brewing Device.

We achieved all of this with a most amazing team of 15 highly passionate and highly skilled professionals, with the common belief that the tea experience should be simpler, more elegant and more rewarding.

Read the rest

NYC civic hackers invite frustrated Silicon Valleyites to do good in New York

We Want You in NYC is a group of civic hackers who believe in using technology to improve people's lives; they've launched a provocative campaign aimed at disillusioned Silicon Valley techies who are tired of working on products that are "designed to kidnap our--and our kids’--attention, only to maximize profits" and want to help "large segments of society to participate in the economic benefits of technology innovation." Read the rest

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. Read the rest

Ellen Pao on Silicon Valley sexism

Ellen Pao, a former Reddit chief and partner at Kleiner-Perkins (which she unsuccessfully sued over discrimination), explains How Sexism Works in Silicon Valley. Read the rest

7 years later, Sun Microsystems cofounder Vinod Khosla loses bid to privatize public beach

For 5 years, we've been tracking the tribulations of billionaire Silicon Valley VC Vinod Khosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems who, in 2010, bought land adjacent to a public beach in Half-Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, and then fenced off the beach and hired private security guards to chase swimmers and sunbathers off the public land. Read the rest

The truth about sexual harassment in Silicon Valley

In the New York Times, Katie Bienner relates a cultural shift in Silicon Valley: women victims of sexual harassment describing their experiences frankly. In an industry bound by delusions of meritocracy and egality, simply talking about it is radical.

More than two dozen women in the technology start-up industry spoke to The Times in recent days about being sexually harassed. Ten of them named the investors involved, often providing corroborating messages and emails, and pointed to high-profile venture capitalists such as Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital and Dave McClure of 500 Startups, who did not dispute the accounts.

The disclosures came after the tech news site The Information reported that female entrepreneurs had been preyed upon by a venture capitalist, Justin Caldbeck of Binary Capital. The new accounts underscore how sexual harassment in the tech start-up ecosystem goes beyond one firm and is pervasive and ingrained. Now their speaking out suggests a cultural shift in Silicon Valley, where such predatory behavior had often been murmured about but rarely exposed.

From the reports, Ellen Pao striking out in the courts only underscored the impunity enjoyed by these men.

Lindsay Meyer, an entrepreneur in San Francisco, said Mr. Caldbeck put $25,000 of his own money into her fitness start-up in 2015. That gave Mr. Caldbeck reason to constantly text her; in those messages, reviewed by The Times, he asked if she was attracted to him and why she would rather be with her boyfriend than him. At times, he groped and kissed her, she said.

Read the rest

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick takes "leave of absence without return date" to "grieve for his mother"

He's not quitting or being fired, but Uber CEO Travis Kalanik won't be at the office next week, or any other week in the near future. Yesterday saw another top executive quit, amid an uninterrupted string of scandals at the ride-hailing company.

His decision comes as Uber finally unveiled the findings of an investigation law firm Covington and Burling conducted into the company’s culture and management to the staff. The investigation was prompted by a former engineer’s brutal account of sexism and sexual harassment at the company.

Among the recommendations that Uber’s board has unanimously voted to accept, is a reallocation of Kalanick’s responsibilities.

“The Board should evaluate the extent to which some of the responsibilities that Mr. Kalanick has historically possessed should be shared or given outright to other members of senior management,” the report reads. “The search for a Chief Operating Officer should address this concern to some extent.”

Uber is one of the most conspicuously disgusting tech companies, marked by the bigotry and criminality of its management and a work culture that makes fools of those who consider Silicon Valley an egalitarian or meritocratic environment. Read the rest

Three terrible tech trends

Freddy deBoer writes that he's been telling the same joke for years about Silicon Valley's only product, which might be universalized as "At last, a way to verb with nouns on the internet!" But the social-media techopoly is stable, now, and so the venture capitalists have moved on to the three terrible trends that will now occupy their interest.

First is infecting everything with DRM so it's controlled by the manufacturer and limited to their ecosystem. Second is charging rent for being in it and using algorithms to maximize it. Third is marketing workaholic poverty to the young as a way of life.

We Love Doers So Much We Want to Give Them a Hellish Existence of Endless Precarity

The basic idea here is that 40 years of stagnant wages, the decline of unions, the death of middle class blue collar jobs, the demise of pensions, and a general slide of the American working world into a PTSD-inducing horror show of limitless vulnerability has been too easy on workers. I’m sorry, Doers, or whatever the fuck. The true beauty of these ads is that they are all predicated on mythologizing the very workers who their service is intended to immisserate. Sorry about your medical debt; here’s a photo of a model who we paid in “exposure” over ad copy written by an intern who we paid in college credit that cost $3,000 a credit hour. Enjoy. The purpose of these companies is to take whatever tiny sense of social responsibility businesses might still feel to give people stable jobs and destroy it, replacing whatever remains of the permanent, salaried, benefit-enjoying workforce with an army of desperate freelancers who will never go to bed feeling secure in their financial future for their entire lives.

Read the rest

Residents of Silicon Valley homeless camp clear 48,000 Lbs of garbage from creek, ask for housing

Silicon Valley's legendary housing crisis -- now several decades old -- has led to the establishment of semi-permanent homeless camps on public lands, including a notable camp on the banks of Coyote Creek, on Santa Clara County Water District land. Read the rest

Silicon Valley banks offer tech giants' new hires 100% mortgages on 24 hours' notice

What to do if you've just signed up to work in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the world, with almost all of your net worth tied up in illiquid shares in your employer's company? Just ask a Silicon Valley bank for a 100% mortgage, which they'll cheerfully supply on 24 hours' notice, with all the "white-glove service" trappings you could ask for. Read the rest

Employees at Silicon Valley start-up fast 36 hours each week

Nootrobox is a Silicon Valley company that sells nootropics (aka "smart drugs'). The employees there stop eating Monday night and don't eat again until Wednesday morning.

From San Jose Mercury News:

[Nootrobox co-founder and CEO Geoffrey Woo], his Nootrobox co-workers and other techies interested in the same question break their weekly fast with a meal at San Francisco restaurant Elmira every Wednesday morning. The purpose of the fasts is to achieve a state of ketosis, which means the body has run out of carbohydrates and instead is burning fat for fuel. Ketosis has been shown to affect the brain in various ways -- it helps prevent seizures in children, for example -- and some biohackers say it keeps them focused and alert.

"By the end of the day I just have way more energy," said Katie Fritts, founder of San Francisco-based Underclub, an underwear subscription service.

But fasting isn't for everyone. San Francisco-based software engineer Yan Zhu, who breakfasts with the Nootrobox group but isn't employed at the company, gave it up after a few weeks.

"It was just endless suffering and wanting to die," she said.

Read the rest

Squarespace staffer claims exec told them "you’re so black, you blend into the chair"

Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there. Read the rest

Why isn't Silicon Valley trying to fix the gun problem?

Silicon Valley is all its "we can save the world" mindset when it comes to education, income inequality, and green tech. But where is the Bay Area's tech industry when it comes to gun violence? Over at Backchannel, Scott Rosenberg writes about the technology and sociopolitical challenges in the efforts to build a "smart" gun. From Backchannel:

If smart guns really offer both a potential market and a public good, why hasn’t the world of tech money come running? Here are some reasons.

(1) There’s no data. Tech investors are a data-driven bunch, yet the entire field of gun studies is moribund — it never recovered from its kneecapping by Congress in 1996, when legislators threatened to defund the Center for Disease Control unless it stopped all research into gun violence. An executive order by Obama lifted the ban in theory three years ago, but the field remains hobbled, and even if the floodgates opened tomorrow, there’s a whole lot of ground to be recovered.

(2) There’s too much shouting. Tech investors prefer to stand above the partisan fray, and even those who have more of a stomach for public policy debates might quail at the level of vitriol the gun issue triggers. Those who do wade in need to dial up the discretion filter to a level that many in the freewheeling tech world might find uncomfortable. For example, in 2014 progressive Seattle investor nick hanauer made a high-profile contribution to a Washington state background-check initiative. Then he got in trouble for an obviously sarcastic Facebook post that read, in part, “We need more school shootings!!!” That just doesn’t happen when you’re investing in, say, high-speed wireless networks.

Read the rest

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