What we've been reading: notable failures, robots, WeWork and Eden

  1. Kai Nodland
    Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Business Editor, UKBF & AWEB Staff Member

    Posts: 91 Likes: 18
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    Time for a super special version of Fresh Threads. "Special version" in that it contains no threads, and instead features articles and journalism I’ve enjoyed.

    Yes, I’ve hijacked Kat’s bit. I’m not sorry. And if you enjoy these pieces of journalism, neither will you be.


    10 of the most-funded startups to fail in 2017

    If you’re reading this, you might have helmed a business that failed. That’s okay, it happens.

    But I sincerely doubt you’re failure was as abysmal as Jawbone (which raised £500m in funding) or Beepi (which got £175m). That’s a lot of money and a lot of people to disappoint.

    They’re not the only well-funded businesses to give up the ghost this year. TechCrunch gives us the full tour of StartUpLand’s dead. May they rest in peace.

    Want a robot to walk like you? Don’t expect it to look human

    Do yourself a favour and search for a few biped robot videos on YouTube. These expensive machines are hilariously incapable of even the most rudimentary physical endeavours.

    At the same time, there are millions of dollars and man hours invested in making these machines not fall over. No one has mastered it – yet. And, as dumb as it sounds, the scientific odyssey to try and make these robots not suck is pretty cool.

    But let’s be real: robotics, in general, is still trying to elude the realms of dark comedy. My personal favourite is this security robot that drowned itself in the office water fountain.

    Why WeWork thinks it’s worth $20 billion

    WeWork, the HQ of so many hipster freelancers, has some big plans. Indeed, it has already started. The office space company runs office spaces for the likes of Amazon and IBM.

    Now, it anticipates that more large enterprises will outsource their office buildings to WeWork. Why? Because WeWork can draw on sophisticated data to create work spaces that will extract maximum productivity for the least amount of money.

    It is, WeWork’s honchos say, “workplace intelligence”. How comfortable a worker would be being measured, quantified and squeezed in the name of Taylor-esque efficiency; that’s a different story.

    More than 100 exceptional works of journalism

    I mean, the headline says it all. It’s a list of journalism within a list of journalism. It reminds me of my favourite Wikipedia article: list of lists of lists.

    The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf has really done my job for me here. It’s a comprehensive, time-consuming list. Have a gander when you get a free moment.

    Reality TV’s wildest disaster

    Anyone see that show Eden that aired last year? It was a roaring dumpster fire. Not in the traditional sense, though. It failed miserably viewers wise, yeah, mostly because people didn’t want to tune in to watch a cast of strangers struggle bitterly on a remote Scottish peninsula.

    The story of Eden, of what it was attempting to be, is a more interesting though. And it’s a lot more depressing than you think, too. It was meant to broaden the realms of what was possible; instead, it was a case study in how we carry the baggage of our personal flaws wherever we go.