$375 million sounds like a lot of money, but it's 0.3% of their investment fund.
I'm not sure if SoftBank is suddenly performing worse than they have been in the past or if people simply just care more about the losses since they had such a major one recently.
Even call it a "robot" pizza company is strange...I can't imagine that the inside of any factory for frozen pizzas would look that different than what this company was offering.
Very different. Frozen pizza factories are impressively efficient (with decades old tech).
Compare random frozen pizza machine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7anib2L7uUk with the hilarity that is Zume https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uFSdxwRVh8A
Thanks for the links. Indeed, hilarious to watch it side-by-side for some extra entertainment! With the volume of pizza they're making in that Zume factory, it doesn't seem like there's even any extra benefits of using robots — and these robots seem to be placed there more as an obstacle to overcome than actual help; also, they didn't even use it for cheese dispersement, which was still done by hand? LOL, robots-made pizza!
The six-axis robot being used to move a pizza 2 feet was pretty amazing -- I have to imagine they had grander plans but had no idea how to utilize it yet.
The mobile ovens are kind of absurd. I mean, warming it doesn't seem like a bad idea. Maybe even baking it on the way is fine (so long as all the toppings didn't slide off), but what do they need 56 bays for? If they're planning on loading up 56 pizzas and baking them on the way, latency on orders will be horrible. Huge orders are like, 10 pizzas. Seems like if they just baked them and stuffed them right into a warming compartment that'd be more than sufficient.
The saucing of the dough in particular was absolutely slower than a reasonably experienced human worker. For a human worker in a typical pizzeria, the sauce takes two seconds.
Useless in this application, but a lot of fun for an engineer to play with.
you mean other than the $375M you can walk away with by claiming you're using robots to make pizza.
Your insight re: the parallel to software design is a valuable one, thank you.
I had family working in a plant for one of the big name pizza places, and you can see the whole process for on-demand pizza at many brick oven pizza joints. I don't know how you could go to either of those places, look at zume, then conclude that zume had any advantage or was solving a problem from either side (on demand or automation).
To honest though, they look like fresh pizzas. And if by some chance, the system yields stable long term value (happy employees and eaters) then.. why not.
That said anybody gets depressed by the dehumanizing aspect of this era ? drone delivering robotically made pizzas.. it looked funny in the jetsons but in reality I'd like to keep the good'ol restaurants with noisy people in it.
 "that we have yet to master" because it's so useless and we're so unqualified to understand it
Has anyone explained to Zume that the restaurant business is low-margin?
Industrialization has pretty much solved mass production.
AI can automate intelligent decision making, but with industrialized production system the design has removed all need for intelligence.
An intelligent system will always be more expensive than a non intelligent system.
Robots could only become useful, once there are decisions to make. Like when you want to order truly customized pizzas, e.g., arrange the cheese such that it spells your name. Or give it a keyword, and then the robot should arrange all ingredients, such that the pizza looks like a painting about that keyword
I was like “oh these pizzas aren’t in a straight line, I wonder if a human needs to line them up now, or if there’s a visual sensor that detects edges”.
Then the simplicity of the solution blew my mind!
Sure, Rademaker doesn’t put their enormous frozen pizza technology in a van. But making pizza with robots? Dude, that’s been done before.
I bet if you gave them enough money to bother trying, they could squeeze a pizza machine into a van. Making a pizza in a van seems possible, but pointless.
Serious question: would this investment have been awarded if the cofounder weren't a minority female?
"Bruno is a very powerful robot. He's a 6-axis robot. You've seen this kind of robot mostly in manufacturing settings. We're using this robot to make pizza."
Bruno then moves the pizza 5ft.
I have to believe they bought it with the idea of doing much much more but hadn't figured out how.
Overall, it seems they knew they wanted to "automate pizza" but really had no idea how. Another comment shows a real pizza assembly line that looks both simple and efficient.
Lets talk a minute about their "mobile ovens". WTH do they need 56 ovens for? It seems like assembly still has to happen at a "hub", but how many pizzas do you really need to bake on the way? Maybe a max of 10 for huge orders?
> Serious question: would this investment have been awarded if the cofounder weren't a minority female?
Lets not go there.
The video gave me the impression of a kitchen designed by a chef or line cook, with a manufacturing robot tossed in there. If the goal was automated centralized production, any competent manufacturing engineer would have designed a radically simpler setup. Of course, finding machinery that didn't have a production capacity too far beyond Zume's needs would probably have been a challenge. Hundreds of pizzas an hour--let alone thousands--is well beyond anything Zume could have handled, because their biggest bottleneck would have always been delivery.
> Lets talk a minute about their "mobile ovens". WTH do they need 56 ovens for? It seems like assembly still has to happen at a "hub", but how many pizzas do you really need to bake on the way? Maybe a max of 10 for huge orders?
The entire concept is a bit wacky. You don't need to bake the pizza entirely on the way; just scale up how New York pizzerias handle pizza by the slice. A plain pizza gets half-baked and when a customer orders a slice, toppings are added and it's put in the oven for a couple minutes until fully cooked. Prepping whole pizzas at a central kitchen and then putting them in a delivery van that finishes cooking the pizzas is something I could maybe see being viable with minimal investment. A very hesitant maybe.
But there are no robots and no wizards (er, machine learning some of Zume's early coverage discussed) for that kind of business. And that probably means no big investments as there are some articles where I can't help but substitute "magic" or "wizards" for certain words and think "yeah, that's probably closer to what some investors or journalists heard."
And didn't bother to do a simple Youtube search, watch one of the "how it's done" programs on TV, or talk to someone in the industry.
Being a little bit more active in my local start-up scene now also means following stat-ups in general. And a lot of these companies, including one I used to work for for a short period, seem to ignore lessons other learned, the hard way. If these lessons are concerning your USP, ignore them, because it is where you inovate. regardless, you should have understood these lessons before ignoring them.
Ignoring these lessons in any other part of your company is just stupid. Like not managing your cash flow.
Yes of course. If you read the history, it was the male cofounder that was the “charisma” behind the business.
If anything the minority female is there as the token PR stunt.
One, if that's really the model, then founders had better stay as far away from venture capital as possible. Whether your motivation is "change the world"/"deliver on the vision you have" or "make money," that's not your investor's model. Your investor's model is to convince you and a hundred people like you that each of you is special and going to change the world, while expecting only one of you to succeed. Your investor's model is to push you to be Uber-scale even if you're overextending yourself and to convince you that you can do it even if you probably can't, because it's better to let you fail and cut you loose than to let you have a modest and small success that doesn't make a dent in the portfolio. If you and everyone else is aiming for safe successes instead of high-risk-high-reward gambles, then the let-a-thousand-startups-bloom approach stops being profitable for the investor, so investors can't let that happen.
Two, I think the rest of the world - and perhaps even the industry itself - doesn't quite intuitively understand that. If that's really the model, "We have $375M from SoftBank" isn't an indicator of anything, neither to other investors nor to potential employees.
Two: It's not as simple as just throwing money at a bunch of random things and hoping one sticks. They work hard to invest in companies they think will make large returns, knowing that despite their best efforts a large portion likely won't. This is intuitively understood. But this more nuanced understanding leads to the conclusion that "[w]e have $375M from SoftBank" is meaningful because they're a successful entity in that space, with subject matter experts, and if they invest in you it indicates you're doing something right.
There's always tradeoffs. You seem to think that no VC money is safer, but that not necessarily true.
Without capital, you spend 10 years finding out that your bootstrapped robot pizza company is in fact utter garbage. With capital, that would have taken 2 years.
> that's not your investor's model
And it's not my customer's model either. Or my employee's model.
Just because we don't all have the same exact goals doesn't mean we can't create a mutually beneficial arrangement for all parties.
I mean, that's one possibility. The other is that without capital, everyone looks at your robot pizza company and says "There's no way that's going to work" and you find out in 0 years and you go work on something else, like a normal pizza company (or a normal office-leasing company, or a normal blood-testing company, or a normal juice press, or whatever). My worry is that if a founder goes to a venture capitalist with an idea that's probably bonkers but might work, the VC's interest is in making the idea even more bonkers and saying "No way, man, you're gonna change the world" and not "Hey, here's how to make your idea a little more grounded so you actually deliver something successfully."
I guess it depends on what you want as a founder. If you want the best shot ever at making your world-changing robot pizza company work, sure, go for the VC - if you bootstrapped it, you'd spend 10 years worrying it wasn't taking off because you didn't have the resources. If you want to succeed at something, and you're okay with succeeding even if there aren't pizza robots on every corner, find a route where you're not working for mega-growth-or-bust. (Which could include modest amounts of venture capital! Or could include loans or whatever.) And honestly, if you really care about pizza robots and it doesn't matter to you how many pizza robots there are as long as you can work on pizza robots for ten years... bootstrap.
> Just because we don't all have the same exact goals doesn't mean we can't create a mutually beneficial arrangement for all parties.
My concern here is that it's in the VC's interest for you to be more ambitious and fail instead of staying cautious and succeeding. Nobody else has that in their goals. No (actual, paying) customer would say "Your product is great, but if you can't add these features, we'd prefer it if your product didn't exist." No (current) employee would say "I love this company, but if we can't hire ten times as many people, I want to be laid off." Everyone else has an interest in you staying afloat and alive, even if they have different opinions on what you do.
The VC's interest is for a very high-worth company.
The customers interest is you providing them an good product/service at low cost.
The employees interest is you providing a paycheck.
All of these are willing to compromise your profitability or risk goals.
Fortunately, even diverging goals can be managed to be cooperative. And this happens over and over again in business.
> I'm not sure if SoftBank is suddenly performing worse than they have been in the past or if people simply just care more about the losses since they had such a major one recently.
The only reason people like talking about anything SoftBank is because (1) its so abnormal in the investing world...it's essentially an unproven model, (2) SoftBank's fund is basically "Masayoshi-son made the most significant investing venture bet ever in history with Alibaba and we want to try to do this 100x more" (3) the investing principles are so abnormal (Masayhoshi-son basically has to bless the founder/idea) that it makes for great headlines.
Masayoshi-son has proven he can throw he dice pretty well, however the jury is still out on whether this model will actually produce outsize returns.
So SoftBank was betting on a >20% chance that Zume would succeed to that degree.
This is quite different from traditional VC, which expects much lower probabilities of success in each investment.
Ironically, SoftBank is one of few investors to lose money by investing in Uber.
"VC" is not a synonym for "smart money," and "the idea behind VC" being "everybody is betting tho" doesn't explain their outsized presence and outsized effects.
> “There were many naysayers when SoftBank invested last year at a valuation around $49 billion,” said Chris Lane, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. “The successful IPO of Uber at a valuation anywhere near $100 billion will be a strong validation for SoftBank and its Vision Fund. This is also very good news for SoftBank’s other ride-hailing investments.”
But the current UBER market cap is $68 billion. So if softbank invested at $49 billion and now UBER is worth $68 billion, how exactly is that an oops?
Venture capital isn't a monolith.
Investing in pre-seed, seed, or series A rounds are significantly different than coming in as an investor in a later round.
For Softbank to whiff so badly on such late stage investments is drastically different than an early stage investor failing with a similar portfolio. The risk and uncertainty profiles are starkly different for the early stage and late stage investor.
". The Japanese conglomerate spent about $6.6 billion to buy just over 200 million shares from existing investors, including former CEO Travis Kalanick, at around $32.87 a piece. It provided another $1.05 billion in fresh capital to Uber, buying 21.45 million shares at about $48.77 each."
Presumably many local pizzeria owners have never heard of Masayoshi Son; presumably many more just would never have thought “oh we’re actually a pizza tech company and we need hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital funding to scale.” But if you have the proper mindset, if you believe in yourself, if you are not a guy opening a pizza place but a founder who previously sold a tech company, if you hire a strategic and retail consultant, if you test out various combinations of “[giant tech company] of [broad category including pizza]” for the pitch, if you call your pizzeria “the Gigaranch” or “the Pizzaplex” rather than “Al’s Pizza & Subs,” and sure sure sure yes fine if you employ some robots to careen around town sloshing cheese around trucks, then maybe you can be the pizza proprietor to rake in Masayoshi Son’s millions.
You craft a pitch calculated to convince Masayoshi Son that your pizza delivery business will change the world. You meet with Masayoshi Son. He convinces you that you will change the world. Now you are all believers, all in it together. He hands you piles of money. You go home and weep to your friends, “I am going to change the world.” The friends are like “wait what with the pizzas?” But it is too late for skepticism, you have the money, the robots are in the trucks, they are fanning out across town, the cheese is everywhere, they cannot turn back.
Still hands-down my favorite first-chapter of a book.
I give Stephenson credit for taking that guarantee to its logical extreme. And while I love the book, it's funny how basically none of the predictions in it came true. No computers that project images on eyeballs, no 'poon guns, no losers walking around scanning retinas with backpack-mounted lasers, and book features working payphone booths!
Actually, we have something close to that now:
It doesn't use lasers though.
The tech is basically working, and they're ramping up to production this year.
And no, you can't just walk around arbitrarily, but you couldn't do that in the book either (you could walk out of range). Also, Stephenson didn't worry about just turning your back to the laser projector...
You could have written basically the same thing about Starbucks if it had failed.
But it didn't.
It went on to become one of the great success stories of the modern era.
But, in this case, it sure seems, in hindsight, like it should have been predictable. My first thought when I heard about the company was, "How do they keep the toppings from flying all over the place if the truck hits a pothole or has to make as sudden stop or something, and the cheese hasn't softened enough to stick it in place? And how do they keep the cheese from sloshing all over the place after it melts?"
It would seem, based on what I'm reading now, that my error was assuming that they had thought of something clever and wondering what it was. Because the answers turn out to be (1) skimp on the toppings, and (2) you can't, it just plays out like a scene from Astérix chez les Helvètes† back there.
I can infer from this that I, a person who was just sitting on their armchair having a knee-jerk reaction, still managed to think more deeply about this business plan than any of the key figures or investors.
Starbucks, on the other hand, seems to have always had a basic grasp of how coffee behaves vis a vis Newton's First Law of Motion.
†(DDG image search seems to do a better job than Google at turning up the cheesiest panels.)
I didn’t expect such a literal interpretation: https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/random-raves-xxvii-an...
> You could have written basically the same thing about Starbucks if it had failed.
Not really. Starbucks started as a coffee shop, and started expanding when they became successful. There's a limit to how ridiculous that can be.
Sidenote: epic thread
What the author is alluding too is the fact that putting a bunch of robots into a pizza store isn't going to turn you into a technology company worth hundreds of millions, that is absurd right from the beginning.
Starbucks success imho was due to their having a sufficiently well controlled process to make a consistently decent (if not excellent) cup of coffee in _all_ their stores. Their competitors are all over the place in both the time and location axes.
That and the interior of the stores are typically more appealing than McDonalds.
Fun Fact: He lost EVERY investment in the last bust, save for getting lucky with Alibaba.
I skimmed it in a book store, back in the day. Quite funny! (Where else could you learn about Hyundai Halibut With Fennel -- cooking time 55-85 miles.)
Shoot me for not realizing that it was a visionary guide to getting funded by Softbank.
I kinda get the bootcamp concerns, but what's wrong with being a programmer at a porn site?
I also highly doubt the problems were with the software team either.
After the robotic delivery truck problem failed, which I think was a critical piece of the puzzle as they were essentially replacing retail pizza stores with mobile robotic food delivery machines. Which is something new - and critically something actually scalable with VC funding.
Instead this ended up requiring a sophisticated infrastructure if it was going to compete with pizza stores on every corner, who already have ovens and drivers close to the last mile customers + these old pizza companies already have central marketing funnels from mobile apps, phone calls, and online orders which then distributed "leads" to the various local franchise locations. So an Uber-style play is pretty pointless.
I'm curious if they should have tried a bit harder to solve the robotic pizza truck problem, so they didn't need to build out a centralized facility or a bunch of smaller delivery shops. Especially on the cusp on automated driving, these could just automatically pick-up food restocks at the central location and stay mobile as long as possible.
I'm convinced too many startups give up too easily as soon as they face hard problems then pivot to boring old-industry style companies that aren't real startups/VC companies. Replacing minimum wage workers with robots will never be exciting by itself.
Where I moved from the chain pizza was all pretty good. One day after I moved here I needed something quick and familiar so I ordered the same thing I used to get, and it was awful.
So it comes down to the local management, and in areas where management is sound, the pizza is fine and robots add no value in time or quality.
Security is often a whole company exercise that needs to be prioritized by management, putting blame on some individual programmers seems to show a lack of understanding of how infosec works.
If the attitude of these engineers is "we don't emphasize security unless management tells us to" maybe they don't deserve to be hired elsewhere?
Management are not omniscient; they depend on their staff.
Are you, as an engineer, going to organize a pentest for the software? Even if you encourage management to do so, it's still up to management to actually book the deal.
And when it is done, I will endeavor to hit it as absolutely hard as I can to break it. I will advocate for regular penetration tests and audits, and I will throw an absolute goddamned fit when they don't happen. (My current company retains very little personal information and we still put ourselves through a pretty rigorous security audit at least once a year. A measure of "do thou likewise" is fair.)
The fun part is I don't even call myself an "engineer", because I'm not and I can't be with the tools and practices I have at my disposal. I'm a software developer, just like about 99.9% of this industry. I just happen to care a little, and I just happen to try to do better.
Those who don't accept this are like doctors who don't accept that washing their hands is the important part, not the care and emotional sensitivity that goes into treating a patient.
I've seen a trading application go from "typing ' will result inn SQL injection" to "basically bulletproof" due to this process.
Devs can become remarkably competent when their smugness is wiped away by finding some crucial vulnerabilities they overlooked.
I know it's tempting to believe that the design part matters, but it's also tempting to believe that a doctor's emotional support matters just as much as washing your hands.
Do a stint in the pentest industry. It's eye-opening. (Look into my eyes. I've seen things. Terrible... things...)
* The breach included PII from a property they had already sold, but held onto for some reason.
* SHA1. A good choice if you want to slightly inconvenience somebody with a GPU, while also increasing the odds of your hashes getting uploaded in full to one of many distributed cracking projects.
* No effective user input validation. The exploit was one step in sophistication beyond those ancient IIS ../../hue.txt attacks.
* No attempt at anything resembling principles of least privilege, exec whatever wherever.
So, everyone failed - executives to DBAs. Screw pentests, start by implementing best practices that have been around for 40 years.
Are you, as an engineer, going to sit back and watch the project you built (containing very personal information in this case) get compromised? Even if you know management isn't paying proper attention?
See, that's the problem with every developer in Silicon Valley calling themselves an "engineer"; they want the title without the obligations that a professional engineer has. "Not my problem" would cost you your designation.
All engineers make mistakes and misjudgements, even the ones working in long-established fields, as we can see from the 737MAX saga. It's management's job to design a organizational structure that puts enough safeguards in place that mistakes get captured before the product rolls out. That's what management literally means.
How does this work? Do you rip off your glasses, strike a manly pose and run for the data center, stopping only to force the infra team to give you the credentials?
Organize your own IR tiger team outside of management channels? Congrats, you're unemployed tomorrow, together with anyone silly enough to buy in.
Start making rogue code changes you think are appropriate? That would run in to "want[ing] the title without the obligations". Oh, and also probably end up with you unemployed.
So, really, what are you proposing?
This gave me a good laugh, thank you
I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels like this.
I nearly got fired by digging my heels in on a privacy/infosec flawed design... until CTO/CIO layer gleaned what I was freaking out about and the energy (angry, "wtf", etc) suddenly pivoted to the original architect and engineers who cooked up some half-baked stuff.
You don't want your name attached to bad stuff in life. You only have one reputation. Don't mis-spend your social (political) capital by letting dummies bully you into ignoring tangible security issues.
It’s probably very different now but affiliate shaving, spamming, cpc fraud were all ubiquitous in the late 90s/early 2000s.
Yes, we had to deal with all of that as well. Also built a lot of automated tools to deal with those sorts of things. My favorite one, I named 'the cockblocker'. ;-) This sort of experience you just can't get elsewhere and has been extremely valuable for me.
Instead they ended up increasing their costs multiple times by cooking in parking lots and delivering over scooters. Wow. Classic example of not understanding what they are doing. Both the founders and investors have no understanding of either the tech or pizza marketplace and blindly jumped in. I guess it’s great for the founder. They make money almost for free.
May I present you...
I am not sure I suppose in really high real estate cost areas that might be good, but it does not strike me as an obviously good idea with respect to capital usage.
And the employees too, they got fat severances. All of this reminds me of a government jobs program. Strange, isn’t it? If the free market wasn’t so distorted in the US (primarily because of government involvement), companies like this would never get funded in the first place. Instead we have government jobs programs popping up all over, due to QE by the Fed. Next time they should just helicopter the money directly to everybody. Way more efficient.
If you are going to blame the US government for this bad investment, then you'll also need to give them credit for all of SoftBank's good investments too, right?
The parts of any business that can actually be automated by "AI" (aka machine learning, aka automated statistical analysis) are not the pieces of the business that justify its existence and value to customers. Self-driving cars are the most obvious debacle, but it's the same story everywhere - enormous capital to get the data and engineers to automate, but even the "good" AI still gets it wrong much of the time, necessitating endless edge-cases, human intervention, and eventually it's a giant ball of poorly-understand and impossible to maintain pipelines that don't even provide a better result than a few humans with a spreadsheet. Imminent implosion to the AI sector is incoming, sell now before the hype completely wears off.
"The fund is less than three years old and we’ve already had eight IPOs and returned $10.6 billion to our limited partners."
I would be willing to believe that. Maybe SoftBank is making money and paying out profits, despite some of their companies publicly failing in spectacular ways. In that case, they are absolutely correct to ignore public opinion and continue doing what they were doing before.
So, $10 billion cargo-culting?
What problem was this company solving?
They seem to have been solving for a delivered pizza that's maybe 10 minutes more fresh. I don't think there's much value there.
You don't want to lose the place in the community or the accountability of having humans to hold responsible for your food. A storefront can carry that. I don't understand buying a robot arm and calling it a day. Or cooking pizzas in black-box trucks that may arise suspicion in their cleanliness or quality. Being able to see your food being made adds a lot.
How you do all that and compete with the big dogs is an interesting question.
Here's an actual work schedule: http://i.imgur.com/ukj47cs.jpg
I know what a schedule looks like, I used to make them for some of the busiest pizza shops out there. Shops next to universities and large business districts are the easiest to make the financial savings argument. The shops that benefit from a 24/7 model can make savings and increase throughput. Delivering on-time and without error can be massively improved. Making a cost reduction on the huge amounts of tiny shops out there is a great place to prove the tech financially, not where you'll see the most dramatic impact.
There is another automated pizza startup out there that has taken big frozen pizza factory tech and shrunk it down to retail size. It's not the right answer either. That tech makes too much sacrifice in accuracy, flexibility and quality for quantity.
There are more factors that go into this, maybe something better pursued elsewhere than discussed here.
They've set me up for a failure during the initial phone screen by asking a tricky set of two simple questions that noone else has ever asked together and in that order, where you have to answer the first question before you see the second one:
* “You've worked at company X. Rate your performance on a scale from 1 to 10 for how your supervisor would rate you.”
* “What is the reason for your separation from company X.”
(Try doing these two questions in the above order if you've ever been let go from any job, and when the answer to the first question is fixed before the second question is revealed.)
These bros then went ahead and made a hard rejection right there on the phone, waiting for my reaction as if I'm a zoo specimen (it was kind of a shock to me at that time, as I've never been hard-rejected and humiliated like that before or after this incident).
Am I now surprised or disappointed these folks have failed? Not really. You get what you preach. The whole idea seemed kind of stupid and overblown in the first place.
I just always assumed people made things up for these questions and rehearsed their fake story ahead of time.
How could you do that if you've never heard of the questions? (I did hundreds of screens, and it's never came up before.) Does everyone always research what questions each company asks? I guess if you're aware of the trap, it might be possible to avoid, indeed. Then it becomes a test on whether you've researched the company or not prior to the call; whether or not if have ever been fired; and whether or not you're a good liar.
Also, even if you're aware of the question — do you rate yourself below 7, or hide the fact that you've been let go by the person rating you 7 and above?
>Also, even if you're aware of the question — do you rate yourself below 7, or hide the fact that you've been let go by the person rating you 7 and above?
That depends on your ethical views on lying. Personally, I don't owe companies anything and they will lie to my face about things if it benefits them (like layoffs, financial state, worth of options, etc.).
I did interviews for a while (granted that's not the same if you're pitching a startup). Man I hated it. All the recommended questions came with no real goal or anything to look for that I thought told me anything about what this person can do for me.
I guess maybe Zume they're just looking for a "good" answer to maybe indicate you could answer those kinds of questions in a pitch or whatever and not look bad... but what does that tell anyone anyway?
I asked other interviewers why they asked what they asked and what they thought it told them.
Everyone was just some myopic thing where they had a story where they had some bad employee and they think they're bad because X or good because Y and ask a question that they think shows them X or Y ... but nothing seemed to indicate that they really learned anything.
Interestingly this technique is usually used for executives though, like all interview strategies, this one is also not perfect.
It also helps filter out people who can interview extremely well but can't work with other people.
I basically wound up throwing the interview 45 minutes in; I realized I didn't want to work at a place that was going to be so strict/formal for any position in their company.
Yes, I'd do 100 whiteboard interviews before I do another one of those.
2020: Making pizza automatically is so damn hard
1. 375mm is a huge number. 375mm is also 1/3 of 1% of the fund... so small potatoes. Any numbers they throw around are going to look enormous and make great headlines.
2. If some of the investments don't sound a little crazy to you, then what is their differentiation or thesis? Remember PG's essay about good companies often start off sounding like terrible ideas.
3. Yes, anyone that can raise large amounts of money, well, that may be their core strength. Raising money. They need to pair that with someone that can build a team. It's not a bad thing to be able to raise funds.
Every SoftBank funded company must have an army of reporters looking for weakness. One of the cons of getting money too easily I suppose.
That said, I did not / do not understand Wag, and I have 3 dogs and I pay for dog walkers. Against my will, I'm married, she insists. I'm not totally craZy.
And when funding is tiny, it fits into our sense of what risk-taking should be. These are garage/spare bedroom startups with no salaries, a count-the-pennies reliance on AWS to get it going, and an MVP that's "brought to market" via some brave/crazy little scheme that's very dependent on other people's goodwill and tolerance.
If it works, hurray, and if not, everyone regroups fast and moves on.
Multiple all the numbers by 1000x, and the distortions get very strange. Yes, the fund is still making a "tiny bet." But the founders now can goof around with more money than most serious presidential candidates enjoy during primary season. And that feels like a pretty unfortunate misallocation of society's resources.
Unsuccessful startups don't do much damage to society. It's the successful startups that you have to watch out for!
This is exactly the same model as YCombinator. Most of their individual investments fail and this isn't, nor should it be, news worthy.
If you want to cheer on the intelligence of Softbank because they lucked out with an investment in Alibaba early on, you must still hold stock in Yahoo!...
It's very different when you're investing at the seed stage as opposed to putting in what would normally be considered late stage capital. By that point, your valuation should be justified by your numbers, not your dreams.
To paraphrase Everett Dirksen, a few hundred million here, a few hundred million there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.
Seriously though, a silly robot pizza idea that they can't even get to work is something VC's waste 5 million on, but 375 million?
Just the other day we heard about the troubles of 23andMe that had $786M in venture funding. Are there any examples of startups that got >$300M in early funding that went on to become a huge success?
NB: things may have improved, I had ordered in Jan 2017, after seeing one of their vans going by in Mountain View.
Truly, the customer is never satisfied.
It seems like they figured making pizzas was the bottleneck, when really delivery is it.
Am I understanding correctly that they went from an idea to 660 employees in 2 years? How common is this in VC funded startups? I can't imagine this would be easy to manage effectively.
Not out of the question for Uber to reach $50+ by end of year.
I can't find a number for Uber alone, but they posted a $6.5B loss for Uber and WeWork together.
 - tbtc.network
“I’ve never seen data to suggest that being charismatic
and confident and overly brash is linked to a
successful business,” says Kellie McElhaney, founding
director of the Center for Equity, Gender, and
Leadership at the University of California at
Berkeley’s business school.