Theranos and Juicero are dead, but Dead Startup Toys keeps their vision alive

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A living testimony to failure and fraud.

Dead Starter Toys

The tech world is filled with big dreams, along with big failures and sometimes big lies. There is now a site selling limited edition toy versions of products created by iconic failing startups, including Theranos, Juicero, and Jibo. Toys are arguably just as useful – or perhaps more – than the actual products that inspired them.

One of those toys is designed after the Theranos MiniLab created by “a multi-billion dollar medical startup based on falsified test results and blatantly deceptive malpractice,” writes the Dead Startup Toys website, which originates from from MSCHF, a Brooklyn-based startup that has created other products. In 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicted Theranos, its founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes and former chairman Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani for fraud related to false promises surrounding the company’s portable blood analyzer.

the The saga of Theranos was taking. While Theranos, Holmes and Balwani had told investors that their portable blood analyzer can perform complete blood tests from drops of blood, the SEC said the analyzer can only perform a small number of tests and that the company “has performed the vast majority of patient testing on standard commercial analyzers and analyzers manufactured by others.” A few months after Holmes stepped down as CEO, the company has closed. Now the product has been immortalized as a toy that can possibly analyze blood just as well as the real thing.

Unfortunately, the toy version of the Theranos MiniLab is already sold out, but you can still get your hands on models from other infamous products, like Juicero, an “IoT juicer finally outmatched by literally squeezing vegetables with your bare hands,” writes Dead Startup Toys. The company behind the $ 400 Wi-Fi connected citrus juicer closed in 2017 after people realized it didn’t really serve a purpose. The toy version of the dead gadget is priced at $ 40 (£ 29, AU $ 53).

In addition to Dead Startup Toys, MSCHF has brought us products like Alexagate, a cap that fits over your Alexa Echo and uses pulsed ultrasound to block the microphone to protect your privacy. This is the 50th “drop” or deployment of the company. As MSCHF says, “Every drop is different, and we never do the same thing twice.”

The MSCHF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

jibo-product-photos-5

Jibo died before he could be your friend.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Among his other toys based on failed startup products is a Jibo, inspired by the “social robot” with “all character and no function,” as Dead Startup Toys puts it. CNET’s 2017 review says, “Jibo wants to be your friend and nothing more” and “his pretty personality is determined to distract you from his otherwise basic skills.” the robot met his death in 2019, but some lucky customers were able to purchase a toy version of Jibo from Dead Startup Toys before it sold out. It’s unclear how much they paid for their equally useless new friend as the original, but hopefully far less than the $ 900 price tag of the real product.

Other products include a $ 40 mini laptop representing the failure that was the One laptop per child project and a toy Coolest cooler, “an oversized cooler / speaker / mixer combination that failed to deliver so completely that it was investigated for fraud,” writes Dead Startup Toys. This toy is also sold out, so you’ll need to find a new home for your mini blender and ketchup packets.

Big fans of failure can also opt for Dead Startup Toys’ Collector’s Bundle, which is “the entire mid-2010s venture capitalist experience in one box.” You can get templates of the five unnecessary products for $ 160 (£ 115, AU $ 214), as a warm reminder that not all ideas are worth pursuing. Invaluable.


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