Vol. 2.34 | 08.23.19

Read time: 3 minutes
Get This: Marketing Claims May Not Be on the Level

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a Silicon Valley startup claims its product does more than provide a convenient service. No, that’s not enough. It’s also more virtuous for the entire world to use it! Then, as use of the service/product starts spreading fueled by insane VC funding aimed at “accelerating growth,” reality starts making clear that maybe — just maybe — those “saving the world” claims were empty marketing promises. Today’s chapter in this recurring story: those electric scooters that have spawned in cities across the country. Turns out, they may actually be worse for the environment.

WeWork’s Investor Trap

Speaking of Silicon Valley startup lunacy … just read Professor Scott Galloway’s take on the red flags flying all over WeWork’s howler of an IPO prospectus filing. (It’s now officially called The We Company, because of course it is.) A sample from his post titled WeWTF:

WeWork’s prospectus has a dedication (no joke): “We dedicate this to the power of We — greater than any one of us, but inside each of us.” Pretty sure Jim Jones had t-shirts printed up with this inspiring missive. Speaking of idolatry, “Adam” (as in Neumann) is mentioned 169 times, vs. an average of 25 mentions for founder/CEOs in other unicorn prospectuses.

Amazingly, the actual financials are even worse …

Dasani’s BYOB Vending Machine

What’s not to love about a vending machine that dispenses the great tasting filtered water of Dasani into your own refillable bottle, without the waste of a disposable plastic bottle? Presumably the price per oz would be cheaper than normal Dasani, because of the missing bottle. Of course, without the pretty Dasani bottle to catch your eye, would you buy Dasani’s water in the first place? I’m totally down for this experiment to work.

Saturn’s Rings Are Melting Away

Not because of heat, mind you. Rather, Saturn’s gravity is slowly pulling the ice that makes up the rings into itself, causing a phenomenon called “ring rain.” If you’ve never seen the rings of Saturn through a telescope, better do so soon. They could be gone in … <checks notes> … 300 million years. Given that homo sapiens has only been a thing for some 50,000 years, maybe this isn’t news we should concern ourselves with after all.

Who Gets to Decide?

The story of Tom’s Diner in Denver is like the doppelganger opposite of classic eminent domain cases. Usually, a city wants a property owner to sell so that the city can turn the land over to a developer, who plans to convert it into a more valuable land-use alternative. In that scenario, the question comes down to when should the community interest be able to trump the individual property owner’s right to hold onto his property. Here, the owner — Tom — wants to sell his diner after 20 years in order to retire and have his family financially secure thanks to the developer’s $4.8 million offer, but members of the community want to prohibit his right to sell because the diner’s architectural design (“Googie” — new one for me) is cool.