To chase out low-waged workers, Mountain View is banning overnight RV and van parking

Mountain View -- home to some of Silicon Valley's most profitable companies, including Google -- is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, thanks to the sky-high wages commanded by techies, who have gone on to bid up all the real-estate in the region. Read the rest

Theranos but for poop

The founder of a Silicon Valley bio-testing startup stands accused of misleading investors, cutting scientific corners in the quest for growth, and even romancing a fellow executive. Theranos? Nope. uBiome, the fecal analysis specialists. And the FBI is at the door:

On the heels of an FBI raid of its offices in San Francisco, the buzzy health startup uBiome is under investigation.

The company, which has raised $105 million and achieved a $600 million valuation, is reportedly being investigated for issues related to how it billed customers for its tests, which were geared toward highlighting the role the microbiome plays in human health.

uBiome portrayed its tests as free to patients and said insurance companies would foot the bill. In reality, customers were sometimes saddled with thousands of dollars of bills when their insurance declined to pay. Interviews that Business Insider previously conducted with several former uBiome employees suggested that the company may have cut corners on its science as well. ...

Separately, The Wall Street Journal reported this week that uBiome was using stock photos to illustrate customer testimonials on its website. The company removed the testimonials from its site after questions from The Journal, the newspaper said.

Read the rest

Elon Musk but with Elizabeth Holmes' eyes

Good morning, Happy Mutants.

Previously: 10 minutes of Elizabeth Holmes' creepy unblinking stare with Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Read the rest

The best quote from Aminatou Sow's interview in The Cut is about Elizabeth Holmes's "fake blood machine"

"The thing I learned in Silicon Valley is that there’s a pot of money bigger than I ever imagined. That’s when I realized I don’t need to feel some sort of way about asking for $70,000 at work when Elizabeth Holmes is making hundreds of millions to kill people with her fake blood machine. Know what I mean?" -- Aminatou Sow, co-host of the Call Your Girlfriend podcast and former Google employee, in her interview in The Cut. Read the rest

Collect them all: Venture capitalist trading cards

Who's the VC you most admire? Is it "super angel" investor Marc Andreessen, the 47-year-old billionaire behind over 40 successful startups? Or maybe it's Mary Meeker, the legendary VC who Forbes listed as the 77th most powerful woman in the world in 2014.

Whoever it is, TouchBase has got your investor worship covered with their new line of VC trading cards. They look like baseball cards -- stats and all -- but are much, much better.

VCtradingcards.com is the leading online seller of TouchBase investor trading cards.

We carry vintage and rare cards from the 1994 Sand Hill Road Series, the 2010 Gig Economy Series, the 1992 Private Equity Series, the 2015 Unicorn Series, and more.

Some of our rarest VC cards include Don Valentine (Sequoia, investor in Atari), Mike Markkula (Angel, investor in Apple), and Jenny Lee (GGV, investor in AliBaba). You never know which cards you'll get in your packs.

Many of the VCs featured have had multiple exits, but are on their way to more. This makes their cards highly collectible.

And, if your favorite investor, or founder, isn't yet on a card, you can ask the company to print them on a future one.

These are real. A VC Trading Cards five-pack is available for $59.99. Steep for ordinary folks, yes, but not Silicon Valley wheelers and dealers. Get'em while you can!

Thanks, You! Read the rest

Douglas Rushkoff's sobering view of Universal Basic Income

In a new essay, Douglas Rushkoff examines Universal Basic Income, writing that it's not a gift but a "scam" and a "tool for our further enslavement."

Here's a snippet:

To the rescue comes UBI. The policy was once thought of as a way of taking extreme poverty off the table. In this new incarnation, however, it merely serves as a way to keep the wealthiest people (and their loyal vassals, the software developers) entrenched at the very top of the economic operating system. Because of course, the cash doled out to citizens by the government will inevitably flow to them.

Think of it: The government prints more money or perhaps — god forbid — it taxes some corporate profits, then it showers the cash down on the people so they can continue to spend. As a result, more and more capital accumulates at the top. And with that capital comes more power to dictate the terms governing human existence.

...As appealing as it may sound, UBI is nothing more than a way for corporations to increase their power over us, all under the pretense of putting us on the payroll. It’s the candy that a creep offers a kid to get into the car or the raise a sleazy employer gives a staff member who they’ve sexually harassed. It’s hush money.

Read: Universal Basic Income Is Silicon Valley’s Latest Scam

photo by photosteve101 Read the rest

UC Santa Cruz asks professors to rent their spare rooms to students who couldn't get housing guarantees

The director of housing for UCSC's Silicon Valley campus asked the university's 6,000 professors to consider sheltering their students to help bridge the shortfall between university-subsidized housing and the student body's needs, amidst the whitest of white-hot property markets in the nation. Read the rest

Liberaltarianism: Silicon Valley's emerging ideology of "disruption with economic airbags"

Boing Boing favorite Steven Johnson (previously) has written at length about the emerging politics of "liberaltarianism" in Silicon Valley, which favors extensive government regulation (of all industries save tech), progressive taxation, universal basic income, universal free health care, free university, debt amnesty for students -- but no unions and worker acceptance of "volatility, job loss, and replacement by technology." Read the rest

Very small Silicon Valley bungalow going for $2.6 million

In Silicon Valley, people with six-figure jobs sometimes live in vans, so how can they scrape together financing for the $2.6 million asking price for this 897-foot bungalow in Palo Alto? Just imagine what it's like for working class people, some of whom have to commute so far from affordable towns that their employers let them sleep in the parking lot. Via San Francisco Chronicle, VTA bus driver Adan Miranda is now getting kicked out of his employer's parking lot to make room for developers: Read the rest

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

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