On Wednesday last week, two ex-Google employees started their own start-up company named Bodega. The idea behind this company is to make a pantry box that acts as a larger version of the vending machine. Inside of the box are snacks, drinks, toiletries, and other things that one might find in a convenience store near by. These boxes will be put in high traffic areas such as an office Rec Room, gym, dorm room, or a hotel. Users are able to unlock the unattended box by opening the app. Then cameras will record them going into the box and taking items and charge them through the app. Much like Uber and the taxi industry, apps today are pushing are attempting to use technology to add more convenience to your life that push out a system already put in place.
The backlash came after Fast Company, an online newsletter that focuses on technology, business, and design, posted an article that claimed the two start-up owners wanted to make the convenience store also known as Bodegas “obsolete”. This began a firestorm of social media posts and posts by the mainstream media causing the company to go viral. Even celebrities got involved; Lin-Manuel Miranda, a famous play write and actor whose recent successes include “In the Heights” and “Hamilton”, tweeted his praises for those who stood up for the brick-and-mortar Bodegas.
The main reason cited for the anger is that the start-up aims of gentrifying a specific job market for lower-income immigrants in cities. The Bodega is the name used for these corner stores that population New York and Los Angeles. By using the name Bodega as the start-up company name, it takes away from the culturally significant idea of the working class immigrant citizens and turns it into a high-tech, gentrified alternative that would ultimately aim at taking business away from these stores. Additionally, the logo of the company is a cat, which is a symbol of the pets that take up residency in these stores and give the store character. All of these things in conjunction with each other made for a very nasty start for the company on Wednesday.
Since then, the company has issued a formal apology in which it states that the reason they uses the company’s name and the logo was in “admiration” of the Bodega stores, rather than aimed at stealing business. Following this, one of the start-up CEOs has stated that they will be taking some time to soul-search.
This whole article speaks overall to the impact of the consumers and the public on a company as whistleblowers. When thinking about business, the idea about companies is to be very revenue orientated, and not cares about the ethics behind the company. But, this example proves that the moral and ethical ideals of a company are very import for the consumers, and the success of the business itself.