Economy

Internet Erupts Over Tech Bros Trying To Put Bodegas Out Of Business

Internet Erupts Over Tech Bros Trying To Put Bodegas Out Of Business”

The solar eclipse drew people together to collectively stare at the sky; pretty much everyone (except ESPN) recognizes that Donald Trump is a white supremacist; and you can rely on the Cajun Navy to show up when FEMA won't.

Nah, it doesn't work because you've made a glorified vending machine and are naming it Bodega. In fact, that's kind of the point.

That's a bit dramatic, yes, but no more so than this Fast Company headline, which introduces a new venture from former Google employees Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan. Ironically named "Bodega" after the stores they hope to eradicate, the startup founded by two ex-Google employees plans to install unmanned pantry boxes in apartment buildings, offices, dorms, and gyms that provide basic household items typically provided by the neighborhood Bodega. Your credit card is automatically charged thanks to "cameras powered with computer vision", according to Fast Company. The entire process happens without a person actually manning the "store". There's room for more than one type of convenience shopping, and nobody actually wants to see brick and mortar bodegas being put out of business.

So there you have it. It's basically a vending machine.

The response across social media to the Fast Company article was as furious as it was, well, fast.

And when it comes to the company's potentially offensive name, McDonald says he's "not particularly concerned about it".

"We did surveys in the Latin American community to understand if they felt the name was a misappropriation of that term or had negative connotations, and 97% said 'no.'" McDonald told the magazine. The Latins were cool with it!

It might also face stiff opposition in New York: Frank Garcia, the chairman of the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told Fast Company that he "would ask my members not to allow these machines in any of their properties in New York State".

But in many places-and certainly in New York City-a bodega functions as more than simply a place to buy necessities.

To be fair, featuring two tech bros sucking their own dicks at the prospect of "disrupting" the economy by pretending to invent something that already exists and throwing in an added dash of cultural appropriation is essentially shooting fish in a barrel. "It's a disgrace to the name of bodegas".

Of course, it isn't just the Latino community that benefits from bodegas and corner stores. Bodegas are already threatened by rising rents and New York's ultra-competitive real estate market, and neighborhoods suffer when these essential services are lost-a fact that seems to be lost on the folks behind Bodega-the-app-version.

Garcia's grandfather was a bodega owner and the president of the first Latin Grocery Association, now called the Bodega Association of NY.



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