The main drag here in Palo Alto is University Avenue, which is lined with pricey restaurants and retail. One city to the south of us, Mountain View, has their own main drag, and it’s called Castro Street (not to be confused with the gay mecca in San Francisco, half an hour’s drive north).
I’ve walked Castro many times (again, let’s not confuse the two), and I would often pass a very nice building which was neither a restaurant nor a retail store; on the front was a large sign, QUIXEY, and inside the building were dozens of young engineers, all of whom I’m certain were earning great six-figure salaries, working away at their keyboards. Beneath the “Quixey” name was the tag line: “The Search Engine for Apps”
Now this didn’t make a great deal of sense to me. Why would anyone need a search engine for apps? I mean, if I needed to search for an app, I’d go off and do something crazy like this:
You know……like……..do a search. Quixey bragged, “The technology allowed users to search across multiple platforms, eliminating the need for multiple searches using different mobile devices.” Ummm, sorry, if I’m an iPhone user, I don’t give a crap about, say, Android apps.
But people with far more money and far more intelligence than me felt otherwise, and thus:
Yes, countless tens of millions poured into the Quixey coffers, valuing the company at way over half a billion dollars for what I’m convinced has to be one of the stupidest and most useless ideas in history. But how are you going to fund free lunches and ping pong for your overpaid twenty-somethings without all this cash, people??
Indeed, although I could only see bits and pieces of Quixey from outside the building, it was apparently a fairly spiffy place for a startup. Its office had themed conference rooms constructed by local set designers, such as Ski Lodge, Picnic, Movie Theater, and Wild West. Hell, they even had Up and Down escalators so the little darlings didn’t have to move their legs to change floors.
So color me surprised when this finally happened:
Strategic options. Got it. Like wondering where your $133 million went.
But this is all too common in the Silicon Valley. VCs, armed with far more billions to throw at ideas than they know what to do with, will just keep hurling the cash until the next Facebook or Google comes along. One home run makes up for a multitude of past sins. And, for those ideas that are too stupid or fraudulent to make it……..they just disappear without a trace.