Loose strands, 2/3/2020

Followups on my posts from last week

Hi friends, new and old alike! Last week I wrote two posts and wanted to follow up the conversation around them.

Softbank and the Kin Khao impersonator: I was the first report to clearly break out how “Kin Khao” ended up on GrubHub. In short:

  • GrubHub confused “Kin Khao” for “Happy Khao Thai”

  • Happy Khao Thai is a “brand” which belongs to Reef Technologies/Vessel/Bamia2/etc

  • Their food is (apparently) terrible and an insult to restauranteurs

  • Softbank gave Reef somewhere in the vicinity of a billion dollars

  • The proliferation of delivery services removes a crucial human element to food

This piece was super interesting for me to investigate and break open, and the mainstream press has covered it quite a bit since. Wired did an okay piece but they stole my quote as part of their lede, so I’m not linking to them. If you are interested in reading more, I’d recommend:

  • SF Chronicle: a look into an actual ghost kitchen site - an empty parking lot except for two food trucks and delivery drivers.

  • Also SF Chronicle: a look into the human cost when delivery apps add restaurants without their permission.

Most of the other pieces are basically rehashes of mine, without new information, except probably (?) read by an editor.

Also, if you were curious about where the “Vessel Kitchens” are operating, the SF Department of Public Health has a handy guide.

I was honestly surprised that the kitchens were registered and passed, but I guess you gotta give some credit to them. In fact, two of their operations have a “symbol of excellence,” which none of the operations working out of Cloudkitchen’s SF locations have:

Speaking of which, did you know that Cloudkitchens operates as “Bebidas Bananas Operations, LLC” in SF? They really don’t want to make it easy for people to find out who they are, just as Reef Kitchens technically operates as “Bamia2 LLC.”

Rich People Can’t Build Social Networks: everything’s fine, nothing to see here.

Cone also said she’s worried that the outdated version of her plan makes it seem like this is for billionaires and billionaire-strivers only. Her attempt, she insists, is just to bring the most interesting voices to the fore, rich or poor.

“I think a lot of billionaires’ thoughts are not important, and I think a lot of poor people’s thoughts are not important,” Cone says. “If you’re a poor mom making $20,000 in Akron and you can describe your thoughts in words,” she continued, “we want you on the network.”

I’ll leave the easy dunk of “I think a lot of poor people’s thoughts are not that important” aside, and instead push on the stereotype of Akron (and the midwest) as poor places where people can’t put their thoughts into words. I mean, come on. That kind of short-sighted thinking is why the Kansas City Football Team beat the San Francisco team yesterday.

Anyways, also:

“None of the billionaires in the world are talking to me anymore,” said Cone, who stresses she didn’t leak the deck. “They’re all incredibly worried about they brands and their lives and the risks — and they don’t want to talk with someone they can’t trust.”

Isn’t the whole point of Column that billionaires can manage their public image more carefully in an environment where they set the rules and control who is invited? The pitch is “a safe space for billionaires,” the most safe class in the world, and it can’t even manage that.

Anyways, things are fine, nothing is wrong, 15 minute desk salad lunches are still going well.

and my favorite, “my ‘Don’t Shoot! I’m Just A VC’ shirt is raising a lot of questions that can be answered by reading my shirt”:

New content later this week or next!