This month, we look at startup sneakers and the ultimate cock block

Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Illustration: Nicole Album

Happy belated Halloween —did you dress up as a Karen? A postal worker? A masked superhero? Someone from Animal Crossing? Last year, an Elizabeth Holmes was a techie costume highlight, but it’s a free for all in 2020…

The same applies in Silicon Valley, as we all know. Before we dive into a review of the strangest things to come out of the tech world in October, let’s first play our monthly Two Truths and a Lie, Silicon Valley Startup Edition.

This time, we’re focusing on the world of fertility startups, in case all those babies in pumpkins are giving you baby fever. …


This month, we look at apps for picky eaters, pasta-bots, and Uber for evictions

Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Illustration: Nicole Album

As another month rolls by, all I can say is that 2021 can’t come soon enough. I think everyone’s missing their friends, family, and the idea of stress-free air travel. Yes, I know that 2021’s likely to be a clusterfuck, too, but we have to hope, right?

On the plus side, investment in climate technology is up, my young adult book The Future Of Science Is Female is out, and I’m looking forward to the onslaught of startup-memed Halloween costumes in late October.

In honor of Halloween, this month’s game of Two Truths and a Lie, the Silicon Valley Startup Edition, has a spooky A.I. …


This month, we look at lab-grown Texas BBQ, 5G ‘protection’ startups, and talking dogs

Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Illustration: Nicole Album

This Weirdest Shit column has always focused on technology culture, with the “Silicon Valley” moniker broadly embracing the global startup world and loads of localized honorable mentions to Patagonia vest bros and their ilk. Sheltering in place has elevated that premise to an uncanny valley level — with remote techies and entrepreneurs illustrating how concretely the digital has subsumed the physical (at least for now). Silicon Valley proper may never be the same, but that might be a good thing — breaking the barriers of “inner circle” networks and widening opportunities to reach more diverse communities.

That said, this month, our monthly game — Two Truths and a Lie, Silicon Valley Startup Edition — has a puppy-love feel. We ask you: Out of the following three pet startups, which one is fake? …


From restaurants to schools, everyone’s prepping for a lifeline during a long, cold, Covid-19 winter

Outdoor gas heater at night.
Outdoor gas heater at night.
Photo: slobo/iStock/Getty Images Plus

In cities and towns across the country, makeshift outdoor restaurants strung together with pop-up tents, plants, and string lights have colonized sidewalks and newly pedestrianized streets. With indoor dining not encouraged — or in some places like New York City, still off-limits — these on-the-fly adaptations have become the only lifeline for an industry bludgeoned by the pandemic. “It is very hard, hard times for me; I only survive here,” Amritpal Singh, the owner of Angel Indian, a restaurant in Queens, recently told the New York Times. …


This month, we look at WitchTok, feline Fitbits, and electric surfboards

Animated illustration of a delivery drone, e-scooter, and robot holding a flower with the SF skyline in the background.
Animated illustration of a delivery drone, e-scooter, and robot holding a flower with the SF skyline in the background.
Illustration: Nicole Album

This month, I’m reeling over Google’s announcement that most of their workforce needn’t return till JUNE 2021! For real. It makes sense since that’s the earliest we can expect a vaccine — but there’s a difference between assuming this work-from-home life will continue and then Google confirming that. I’m trying to see Google’s announcement as a lesson; no more bleating about a new normal, but just getting on with accepting it. #lockdownlessons

Anyhow, this month has been a scorcher — and I’ve consumed vast quantities of ice cream in response. With that in mind, our monthly game Two Truths and a Lie, Silicon Valley Startup Edition takes a dive into the frozen treat space. …


From the NBA to Vegas casinos, everyone’s clamoring for the $299 Oura ring—but not even the startup knows if it can actually detect Covid-19

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Photo: Oura

The Oura ring is suddenly everywhere. The $299 sleep tracking device has adorned the digits of Prince Harry, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and, since July 9, 1,000 employees at the Venetian and Palazzo casinos in Las Vegas, and most of the NBA players entering the Walt Disney World “bubble” in Florida. The reason for the hype? The ring’s sensors monitor users’ health data, including heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate. Oura crunches this data into a daily “readiness” score, which their connected app serves up to users each morning — the score indicates how hard to push yourself that day; for example, if you’ve slept badly, and your score is low, maybe skip the workout that day. …


This month, we look at on-demand bees, Glampervans, and eBay’s cockroach-and-pig scandal

Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Illustration: Nicole Album

We’ve officially passed the 100-day mark for shelter in place, and don’t we know it? Globally, people are starting to adapt to this new normal, which has prompted a whole new level of weird shit, so much so that Barbie has her own weird shit spectrum. Seriously. We’ve seen comedian Sara Schaefer’s Barbie’s Quarantine Dream House video, the influencer Grandma Gets Real designed “Essential Worker” Barbie dolls, and (in wonderful news), Mattel announced Barbie’s latest Dream House includes a wheelchair-accessible elevator. I think they call this Phase 4?

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Between Covid, protests, curfews, and looting, some businesses have racked up big losses. And their insurance may not cover them.

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Southern Californian residents help clean up a store the day after a looting occurred in Long Beach on June 1, 2020. Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram/Getty Images

On the evening of May 30, amid protests over the death of George Floyd, 15 people, armed with hammers and bricks, broke into California Street Cannabis, a pot dispensary in San Francisco’s Nob Hill. They smashed the windows and countertops and cleaned out the store, carting away around $10,000 of product. For founder Drakari Donaldson, a 24-year-old Black Mexican American, it was devastating. …


Months of bad press culminated in missed tests and tears

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Photo illustration. Photos (Getty Images): Tetra Images; Klaus Vedfelt; michaelquirk; Chris Ryan

On May 13, 2020, Twitter user “Clark,” a.k.a. @dm9wktlty2, posted the following: “Thank you @COLLEGEBOARD for releasing vital exam updates via Twitter….it really shows how much you care.”

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The College Board is a 120-year-old nonprofit that develops and administers curriculum and standardized, fee-based tests for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Its tests, which include Advanced Placement exams and the SAT, are taken by millions of college hopefuls each year.

The problem is that Clark doesn’t appear to be real, and the Twitter account no longer exists.

Someone from the organization was evidently pleased by Clark’s enthusiastic tweet — it was quickly screenshotted and blasted to journalists on the College Board’s media list. The message was clear: despite months of negative press about glitchy tests and completely botched exams, students love the College Board’s online AP tests. …


This month, we look at remote-control masks, Zoom escape rooms, and more

Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Animation of Silicon Valley in the distance, with an electric scooter, a drone, and a small robot in the foreground.
Illustration: Nicole Album

In May, the world soldiered on in its fight against the coronavirus. While some continued to practice social distancing and hunker down — others, not so much.

Aside from Memorial Day pool parties, we also made social distancing consultants and mannequin diners things this month.

Place are starting to open up, and as we sloooooowly return to the familiar, I’m bringing back this column’s traditional game: Two Truths and a Lie, the Silicon Valley Startup Edition.

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You know the drill by now: Out of the following three names of startups (focused on plant-based), which one is the fake one? Scroll to the bottom for the answer. …

About

Zara Stone

Tech+Culture f/lance journo. www.zarastone.net Bylines: OneZero, Marker, Atlantic, Forbes, etc. Pre-order: The Future of Science Is Female https://bit.ly/stm202

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