Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Silicon Valley Unicorn Obituaries

Silicon Valley Unicorn Obituaries



Today, the rich and powerful still lust after unicorns, only now their worth can rival the G.D.P. of a small country. That’s because the term, in Silicon Valley, has come to mean a technology start-up valued at more than $1 billion.

the Times.

Three unicorns passed away in the Bay Area last week after an extended battle with a particularly virulent strain of valuationitis. Gathered at their bedsides were executives and prominent venture capitalists, who confirmed the deaths. “The virus came out of nowhere,” the treating physician said. “One minute they were thriving entities worth billions, and the next . . . I haven’t seen cases of valuationitis with inflammation of this magnitude since, oh, way back in 2000.”

For the memorial service, an open-plan loft in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood was purchased, gutted, and refurbished by the famed design house oÖoo. “We were tasked with creating a bold space that would serve as a fitting memorial to the enormity of our loss,” Lars Miyako, the principal designer at oÖoo, said. “So we commissioned beanbag chairs in primary colors and skee-ball machines for the lobby. We also acquired a two-hundred-year-old sliding barn door for the entrance and salvaged-wood caskets for the deceased.”

Several venture capitalists delivered the eulogies for the beloved unicorns, excerpts from which are printed here:

Pinterest: “We just wanted everyone to have a shot at creating a digital scrapbook of the dream kitchen they could never afford, and to pin pictures of ten-layer cakes they will never make. Where will people go now to learn how to craft D.I.Y. Christmas ornaments with only a rubber band and a used Kleenex?”

Airbnb: “This is a company that reminded you of home—from the clogged toilet in the half-bath to the previously used towels on the rack. That warm, cozy feeling you get when you enter? That’s the malfunctioning heater that won’t shut off. Those familiar smells coming from the kitchen? The trash that hasn’t been taken out in more than two weeks. We never thought a startup that basically guaranteed a cat-hair-covered futon as a bed would have perished so soon.”

Theranos: “Though this company didn’t make it, its inspiring dream of simplifying blood tests—at least some of them, some of the time—is not dead yet. In its honor, we’ve created a Dream Fund (suggested donation: a hundred million dollars) to invest in future dreams that, with enough money and a lot of spin, might, one day, maybe, perhaps, come true. Have you ever dreamed that a dog could speak fluent English, that a human could flap its wings and fly, that your newborn baby could nurse itself? These are the sorts of visionary projects we are looking to fund. We will invest extra money in women founders with a dream, because our lawyers told us to do so.”

Following the service, guests congregated on the roof deck to enjoy the lavish buffet. One angel investor sadly remarked, between sips of his rosemary-mint sparkling water, that this might be the last time he would ever “eat custom, steel-gray M&M’s or dine next to a wall of succulents.” While the reception offered some mourners the opportunity to exchange business cards and swap mileage and upgrade stats on their Teslas, others took the time to reminisce about the unicorns’ heyday.

“Do you remember the sustainable, wild-Alaskan-salmon rolls they served every Monday through Thursday for lunch?” one asked.

“And then there was that board meeting at which we all laughed about never achieving profitability—we raised two billion dollars that financing round,” another said.

In lieu of flowers, donations (suggested minimum: ten million dollars) can be sent to the affected venture capitalists, to help seed their next funds.

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