Pizza-making robot startup lays off 80% of staff

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/07/pizza-making-robot-company-lay.html

Softbank-funded unicorn Zume ran out of dough

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The problem was the pizza. It was awful, I mean worse than the Popa John or Domino

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When I think of things that would benefit from having a robot do them instead of a human, building pizza is close to the bottom of the list.

Absolute bottom would have to be massage. Which I’ve seen robots do.

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Robot-made pizza really isn’t all that bad. Never had a Freschetta or DiGiorno pizza? They’re honestly better than most big delivery chains (Pizza Slut, Dominos, etc.) but they are also made by robots that are built and maintained by professionals ^^’.

Beyond making the dough, I really can’t see how a personal pizza robot can help all that much, unless it slices the veggies too?

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Lets not denigrate by feminzing.

To your point though, it really comes down to the crust for me. Manage a good crust and I don’t see why the rest matters, robot or human. But I’ve yet to see a “robot”/mass-produced crust exceed what I can make with my own two hands, even from a storebought dough ball.

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Men damn well can be sluts too, both in reality and common usage, although it’s admittedly a less common usage ^^’. It’s also a very popular denigration of Pizza Hut, in general. Hell, even extremely affectionate cats (of either gender) are often referred to that way.

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Fair point. In common vernacular, I’ve almost always seen it used against women, but I admit to my own biases on the term there.

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Frankly, in recent usage I’ve seen it used pretty evenly but mostly in a joking manner, usually by the supposed “slut”, not as an external insult. For example, “I’m just a slut that way,” or the like.

I should note that I don’t hang around people who would call other people sluts as a direct insult for long, though, so it’s definitely not a reliable sample =x .

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“Softbank-funded” = good chance of doom.

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You and @orenwolf are just a couple of sluts for civil discourse. You should be ashamed. /s

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“$4 billion valuation”

WTF, end-stage capitalism?

I wonder if someone has written about Softbank’s investments, their absurd valuations and the sunk-cost fallacy… (or is something else at play?) But yeah, I keep reading about failing companies SB has invested in, that they wildly overpaid for.

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What was the plan? Get the tech to shave 10%, maybe 20% of the pizza prices? Because that’s the only way for you to – maybe – acquire market share on a crowded space. That would also mean meager margins on an already thin-margin business. And that is supposing Domino’s, Pizza Hut and many other giants would just sit down and watch.

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DOOM_300x300

Some of it will go fast, some will go slow, but it’s all going to be sucked down into the Sarlac debt pit.

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Once they have robots, why do they need staff?
I bet they are worth 5 billion now!

/s

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Is this not the desired outcome? You don’t build pizza robots because you’re enamored with your human staff…

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I had it a few times when visiting the bay area over the last few years–we did it as an exciting curiosity (let’s get robot pizza!!!). I didn’t think it was terrible, but expensive for the quality–but I concede everyone has their own pizza preferences.

I never understood the business model. Dominoes sells medium pizzas for $5.99, which is about the price of a fast food cheeseburger. Their automation is in the form of a rolling pizza oven, and a decent website which eliminates the need for as many sales clerks–otherwise it is mostly human labor. Automation works when it replaces human labor costs, so you can undercut the competition on price. How are you going to compete with Dominoes–charge $4.99 for a pizza? How much of dominoes cost comes from labor anyway, like $1? They instead tried going upscale, with pies in the $10-$25 range. At that price point, the robot pizza is just a gimmick, because it sure wasn’t saving costs that were being passed on to the customer.

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2020 will be the year of hindsight.

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…waiting for the pizza robot to show up at the We Work cafe in the Sprint store… 3, 2, 1…

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I say something similar every time a flyer for a new local pizza place is stuck on my door. This restaurant model in particular bothers me, because every one uses the same basic menu items, same toppings, and similar pricing. I’m in an area where every third restaurant seems to be an Italian restaurant or pizza place (the restaurants serve pizza, too). Just did a quick search and there are 30 places within 5 miles of my house - not counting the chain pizza places. A crowded space, indeed.

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I don’t understand why so many people want cheap pizza. Why put that in your body? Why not get healthy pizza or make it at home just for the joy of making a wonderful thing?

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