Their moment came this week, after some Juicero investors who received the product noticed something strange. The pouches didn’t require a $400 piece of equipment to yield juice. They required something less proprietary—fingers. Two Bloomberg reporters, Ellen Huet and Olivia Zaleski, performed their own test. They found that squeezing Juicero’s pouches in their hands for 90 seconds yielded as much juice from the bags as the industrial strength machine, which actually took 30 seconds longer to produce a similar amount of liquid. It appeared that Juicero’s vaunted product, which had so beguiled Silicon Valley, was basically a simple press—functionally the equal of a waffle iron, except one that can’t make waffles.
Mockery reached a fever pitch on Thursday when Jeff Dunn, the chief executive of Juicero, published a defense of the company in Medium that, among other sins, used the phrase “raw, plant-based nutrition” twice and never once referred to his product, which is juice, as simply “juice.” He dismissed the Bloomberg video as trivial—“We know hacking consumer products is nothing new”—and defended the maligned machinery, which is called the Press, with a capital p.
And what is the Press? The official description reads like something manufactured by NASA to drill asteroids for root vegetables. The website promises a “bead-blasted aluminum door” constructed with “aircraft-grade aluminum and precision-forged gearing components” to generate “4 tons [of] potential pressing force,” with a “suite of sensors scans” connected to the internet so that “you have the latest updates,” all optimized through “multiple iterations of miniaturization.” And all this for what? A thing that squeezes a bag?
No. Juicero is more than that, Dunn promised. Much more. In his words:
Our connected Press itself is critical to delivering a consistent, high quality and food safe product because it provides:
The first closed loop food safety system that allows us to remotely disable Produce Packs if there is, for example, a spinach recall. In these scenarios, we’re able to protect our consumers in real-time.
Consistent pressing of our Produce Packs calibrated by flavor to deliver the best combination of taste and nutrition every time.
Connected data so we can manage a very tight supply chain, because our product is live, raw produce, and has a limited lifespan of about 8 days.
The value of Juicero is more than a glass of cold-pressed juice. Much more.
To review: Juicero cuts up fruits and vegetables and sells them to consumers, who drink the produce in liquid form. That’s what juice companies do. It publishes an expiration date for consumers. That’s what juice companies do. So, Juicero could have gone around Silicon Valley and said: “Hi there, we’re a juice company. We sell juice. The juice is so good.”