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“Let’s, Like, Demolish Laundry”
June 5, 2014 10:44 AM   Subscribe

"In Silicon Valley, where The Work of creating The Future is sacrosanct, the suggestion that there might be something not entirely normal about this—that it might be a little weird that investors are sinking millions of dollars into a laundry company they had been introduced to over email that doesn't even do laundry; that maybe you don’t really need engineers to do what is essentially a minor household chore—would be taken as blasphemy."
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? (217 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Let's disrupt commenting.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:51 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Now that most of us are paying to comment here, I think we did.
posted by colie at 10:53 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


It's called "Washio". Of course it is.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:58 AM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Please download my new app "Commento" and you will be able to leave comments on this post from anywhere with just the push of a button from your phone. Tip is even included via credit card on file! The best part is: you don't even have to read the post or have anything to say before you comment. We'll do it all for you, plus cupcakes!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 11:00 AM on June 5 [15 favorites]


Basically all of these "innovations" are just ways of being a more efficient rent seeking middleman to cater to douches who want to have as little to do as possible with actual people, aren't they?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:00 AM on June 5 [80 favorites]


Get on the hedonic treadmill for your flax crositini!
posted by sammyo at 11:01 AM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Sitting in an upscale pizza restaurant in Santa Monica, the kind of place where the cuisine has been disrupted so many times it has pretty much reverted to its original state, Metzner takes a breath.

Boy, this article hardly needs extra snark, does it?

On a cheerier note, from the graphic chart Suds Cycle: my favorite innovation is the laundry chute. I wish we had one in our house.
posted by kozad at 11:02 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


But will comment disruption scale?
posted by sammyo at 11:02 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Tech is kind of like John Stewart's character in Half Baked, except instead of "...on weed?" it's, "...from your iphone!"
posted by entropone at 11:02 AM on June 5 [22 favorites]


Selling Bubbles
posted by fullerine at 11:03 AM on June 5


Tech snark aside, I will say this: when you work full time and your washing machine breaks down for anything more than a couple of days, your whole life really does begin to fall apart and it spreads fast.
posted by colie at 11:04 AM on June 5 [15 favorites]


to douches who want to have as little to do as possible with actual people

It's not about having to deal with actual people, it's about having to deal with people that make you feel "uncomfortable", like your neighbors or old people with funny accents. And as a millennial at the older end of the scale, I absolutely get it. Strangers are scary. We've been told as much since we were in kindergarten.

As much as I love this article (and I do love this article, a masterful piece of snarkery), I'd love to read a profile of this guy:
“It’s really competitive,” says Minh Dang, a former Laundry Locker employee who saw the laundry boom coming and opened his own wholesaler, Wash Then Fold, to service all of the new businesses. “It’s man-eat-man.”
posted by muddgirl at 11:05 AM on June 5 [12 favorites]


Basically all of these "innovations" are just ways of being a more efficient rent seeking middleman to cater to douches who want to have as little to do as possible with actual people, aren't they?

Just wait for the service that organizes all your Washio and TaskRabbit orders for you!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:06 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Basically all of these "innovations" are just ways of being a more efficient rent seeking middleman

That's my new superheroine persona: LADY MIDDLEMAN!

"Now, I can arrange for Superman to save you, but there will have to be some concessions on your part. Can you get a little closer to this end of the ledge? Good. Now do you have a lump of coal that can be squeezed into a diamond?"
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:08 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


My building's laundry is already disrupted. It is an internet enabled credit card requiring sms sending system. It crashes just about every second weekend.
posted by srboisvert at 11:09 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants?

eponyouknowthedrill
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:14 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


These guys live in the Bay Area, and they never heard of Chinese Laundry? That's one of the things I miss most about SF. There was one a block from my apartment. It was closer than my bus stop.

It's called "Washio". Of course it is.

Not Washr?
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:15 AM on June 5 [12 favorites]


"I was talking to a classmate who said he and his wife were fighting because someone had to go to the dingy basement, and he felt bad because he didn’t want to send her to the dingy basement, but he was tired, and then someone needs to get quarters, and it just was a whole thing.”

tiniest violin!
posted by entropone at 11:17 AM on June 5 [19 favorites]


If every single person named in this article were to vanish--silently, instantaneously and painlessly--from the face of the Earth, the world would be no worse off for it.

(With the possible exception of Mila Kunis.)
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:19 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


Computer science students are told about abstractions and go about doing it to the world. However, there is a strict pre-requisite to abstraction, which is concrete experience to extrapolate off of. This is why it is the case that the great pre-modern philosophers started their great works at a great age. And philosophy is one of the fields of human endeavor where it cannot be said that the modern practitioners thereof are strictly better at it than the ancients.

Most of the technology entrepreneurs I've met have thought seriously about philosophy, in an informal or even formal way: one of the bigger surprises I've had in meeting them. We had a field trip to Kiva once and I had the interesting experience of listening to Matt Flannery, the founder, about spending his life well in being a student at one of Derrida's public classes. Reid Hoffman, of LinkedIn, wanted to be a public intellectual philosopher when he was in grad school, and realized how many people actually read philosophy and therefore dropped out. Paul Graham has a philosophy degree, so does Peter Thiel. Notwithstanding what you think of them, they have probably thought hard about the nature of things and of mind and of language, extrapolating from the concrete things that they know.

And among the concrete experiences that college students abstract from is laundry, because laundry is one of the more annoying experiences I have every week, as a college student. Not because it's objectively an annoying experience, but because all my other experiences are very much not annoying. You hear a lot of ridiculous privilege in these matters, but I feel that this is also a self-correcting phenomenon.
posted by curuinor at 11:20 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


On top of everything else, the prices seems insane to me. You're probably looking at $50 a week. If you can afford that, why not just spring for an apartment with in-unit washer and dryer...
posted by naju at 11:21 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Again, San Francisco. If I were to move today, $200 more per month in rent would get me a significantly worse apartment than the lease I'm on from three years ago.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:23 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


The more I read, the more I want to mock.
posted by entropone at 11:25 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: someone had to go to the dingy basement

AskMetaFilter: someone had to go to the dingy basement?

MetaTalk: someone had to go to the dingy basement!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:25 AM on June 5 [34 favorites]


Tech snark aside, I will say this: when you work full time and your washing machine breaks down for anything more than a couple of days, your whole life really does begin to fall apart and it spreads fast.

You spend an hour and a half in a laundromat every week or two until you can get your laundry machine fixed.

Or you hire one of the dozens of existing laundry services to pick up, wash, fold, and deliver your clothes to you, which services have been around for basically forever. I got fed up with the article too soon to learn why washio is any different than these other services. Well I did get as far as the cookies, but I like to eat cookies more often than my laundry needs cleaning, so that didn't really interest me.

They probably would have been better off making an internet-based cookie service that also happens to do laundry.
posted by aubilenon at 11:29 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


One of them did. Insomnia Cookies. It was in the article.

Without the laundry because really.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:30 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Basically all of these "innovations" are just ways of being a more efficient rent seeking middleman to cater to douches who want to have as little to do as possible with actual people, aren't they?

If by douches you mean "introverts, who make up an enormous percentage of the tech industry" then you are correct.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:30 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


You're probably looking at $50 a week. If you can afford that, why not just spring for an apartment with in-unit washer and dryer...

Again, San Francisco. If I were to move today, $200 more per month in rent would get me a significantly worse apartment than the lease I'm on from three years ago.

Hell even in Chicago I recently found that in-unit W/D required either $400 more per month (or ~200 more with a huge reduction in square footage.) They are a scarce luxury for renters and the landlords know it!
posted by like_a_friend at 11:31 AM on June 5


If every single person named in this article were to vanish--silently, instantaneously and painlessly--from the face of the Earth, the world would be no worse off for it.

That's a fairly hateful thing to say. Are they doing you harm?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:32 AM on June 5 [12 favorites]


The cookie is their way of insuring repeat business. Somebody's got to wash the chocolate stains out of that nice, clean shirt.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:33 AM on June 5


Washer dryer is totally standard in every London rental and there are no laundry services in any UK city (apart from the wealthy expat community US in St John's Wood).

Brits are too polite/repressed to have a stranger handling their underwear.
posted by colie at 11:35 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


If by douches you mean "introverts, who make up an enormous percentage of the tech industry" then you are correct.

Or, just, people who think that the need for their services is because the extant options are distasteful, because “The laundry and dry-­cleaning industry, it’s all, like, old people. They’re not tech savvy, and they still put up those really ugly stickers with that ’90s clip art.”

Douches.
posted by entropone at 11:36 AM on June 5 [13 favorites]


I've seen some of these presentation slide decks for similar companies. They always start like this:
Laundry/Parking/Housecleaning/etc. is a $_ Billion a year industry!

If we captured 30% of it, that would be $___ Million. A year!

We predict by launching in key markets we'll capture 1% in year one, ramping up to 5% by year two through expansion and backfill, and then hockeystick growth all the way up thanks to network effect.

And that doesn't even count ancillary business like fabric softener, dryer sheets, darning and replacement sock matching services, which would add up to an additional $_ Million a year, and which we can easily outsource under our brand.

We're going to start with Laundry/Parking/Housecleaning/etc., but in 5 years we will be a full lifestyle brand leveraging our data, relationships, and scale.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:36 AM on June 5 [41 favorites]


The Internet Of Laundry
posted by naju at 11:38 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


I'm going to be lucky if my next apartment has laundry in the *building*. I do, in fact, pay someone to do my laundry. Wash and fold at my local laundromat is $1/lb. There was a delivery group here in BOS but when they pass $1.35/lb I went back to carting my laundry around the corner.
posted by maryr at 11:39 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Can anyone else hear screaming?
posted by fullerine at 11:39 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


From the internet of things -> the internet of chores
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:39 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]


They just installed a laundry drop-off locker outside a 7-11 near my house. I didn't get a good look, but I would have sworn the machine said it only cost $0.69/lb., which seems ludicrously cheap. I can only assume there's a meth lab underneath the laundry.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:40 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


(Also, I know it's a First World Problem, but the quarters really are a Thing when it takes 14 of them to do a full load of laundry and you have 13 and it's midnight and you just spilled tea all over your sheets.)
posted by maryr at 11:40 AM on June 5 [11 favorites]


(Also, I know it's a First World Problem, but the quarters really are a Thing when it takes 14 of them to do a full load of laundry and you have 13 and it's midnight and you just spilled tea all over your sheets.)

And you laughed at BitCoin!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:42 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


Because I have an unnatural affinity for trade magazines, based on the issue of "Coin-Op Laundry" I picked up about a year ago there is a big push toward card swipers on machines. My sense is that laundromat owners either operate at very slim margins or have huge gambling problems that preclude the investment, though. I lean toward the latter.
posted by rhizome at 11:46 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


My favorite line from the article: "Entitlement is a straight line pointing heavenward".
posted by tommasz at 11:48 AM on June 5 [16 favorites]


Basically all of these "innovations" are just ways of being a more efficient rent seeking middleman to cater to douches who want to have as little to do as possible with actual people, aren't they?

Get this: all of human civilization since the advent of agriculture has been about that.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:49 AM on June 5 [13 favorites]


It's great to see a journalist writing about new tech businesses who treats the subject and the entrepreneurs with the respect they deserve.
posted by medusa at 11:49 AM on June 5 [22 favorites]


It's called "Washio". Of course it is.

Ima call my rival business "Dryio." (Or maybe "Fold-e-Roll." I haven't decided.)
posted by octobersurprise at 11:50 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


I cannot do my laundry in BitCoins any more than I can do them in dollars. The problem is not the cost of the laundry machine in my basement. The problem is that I have 13 quarters, 3 nickels, and a dime.
posted by maryr at 11:50 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Disrupting laundry? suds, foam, froth ... it's a BUBBLE!

(insert BitCoin about how to short(-sheet) the tech industry here)
posted by Dashy at 11:52 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


My favorite guy in this article so far is Minh Dang who opened a wholesaler to actually do the laundry all these guys are delivering.
posted by maryr at 11:53 AM on June 5 [36 favorites]


SAC Capital graduates
posted by destro at 11:53 AM on June 5


Oakland open secret: Magic Laundry on Adeline does wash-n-fold really well for absurdly little money. You have to take it there and pick it up yourself, though, so.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:55 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


srboisvert: "My building's laundry is already disrupted. It is an internet enabled credit card requiring sms sending system. It crashes just about every second weekend."

We had one at the last apartment I rented that had a smart card system. you could reload your card in $5 increments, but wash+dry was $1.75, so you'd have to do something close to 40 loads of laundry before your card didn't carry a balance. God, did I hate that.

octobersurprise: "Ima call my rival business "Dryio." (Or maybe "Fold-e-Roll." I haven't decided.)"

"Yes, we just wash your clothes. Right. Washio, that's us. I'm sorry you weren't expecting a big damp mess served back to you in a mesh bag. Well, we offer the service, sir. Our site mentions nothing about drying."
posted by boo_radley at 11:59 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


a wholesaler to actually do the laundry all these guys are delivering

That's why some of these absurd apps actually succeed. It create efficiencies. A huge number of small businesses (laundromats) are replaced by a single wholesaler.
posted by bhnyc at 12:00 PM on June 5


I love this thread
posted by colie at 12:05 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


“I’m positive that we could go on Craigslist and post an ad for a delivery driver, and find plenty of people with crappy cars who would work for minimum wage,” he says, grabbing his laptop and flopping onto a couch in the Washio break room. “But I mean, you are going to get crappy people who don’t want to put their best effort forward and have a shitty vehicle that looks not nice. We decided to go a different route, where we can have premium people doing ­premium work.” He presses play on a promotional video of a pretty brunette in a Washio T-shirt, leaning against her black Mercedes. In Los Angeles, a lot of the drivers are actors, and their headshots are tacked on a bulletin board at the office. “That guy,” he says of one hunky blond we see picking up a bag of laundry to take out, “he could be in Twilight or something.”

The "ninjas" get a monthly party, too, of course. To which the people who do the actual shitty work of washing the laundry of the spoiled and worthless are naturally not invited. Presumably because they were not selected for their looks.

This really resonates with stuff in the Graeber thread, actually - the goal of the company is to give the impression that the people driving laundry delivery are just doing it for fun, for kicks, not because they are, you know, members of the working class or something uncomfortable like that, because class difference and poverty are such buzzkills for all the techbros. Now that the internet makes it harder to hide from the knowledge that a lot of workers are exploited and immiserated, the response is to make it look like workers are just out there having fun, and to hide anything which suggests otherwise.

Every time you hear a story about this kind of person, it just gets more and more loathsome. I look forward to knit-knit-knitting under the guillotine.
posted by Frowner at 12:07 PM on June 5 [80 favorites]


Much of Silicon Valley innovation is specifically modeled around "what will make it even easier to be a well-paid 20-something white guy?" (and possibly also "a well-paid 20-something asian guy?") So, messaging apps to make it easier to get together for an evening, someone to do your laundry, etc.

Which seems a very direct result of the biases in funding that are happening out there.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:09 PM on June 5 [12 favorites]


I'm not clear on why this is more sinister than other delivery services. But I'm a Bay Area software engineer with a philosophy degree, so I guess no more could be expected.
posted by Zed at 12:09 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


...there is a big push toward card swipers on machines.

By the blessed veil of St. Veronica, if I have $1.25 left on one card and $0.50 on another, I should be able to combine them on one $1.75 load of laundry! But OOOOH, NO!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:10 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


(In other words, what boo_radley said.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:12 PM on June 5


I lived in a building about 10 years ago that had swipe cards for the laundry. I probably spent at least triple what I should have on laundry while I lived there because cards would spontaneously stop working and it was almost impossible to get a refund. Quarters may be a hassle, but I've never seen a functioning swipe system in a laundromat. Ugh.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:13 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Every time I read a story like this, I am reminded that George Saunders is truly the writer for our time.
posted by duffell at 12:13 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Someday I will have to write that essay I've been planning, about how the entirety of civilization is organized around laundry, and in particular, shirts.

I'll just give you one example. In my college town, about a hundred years ago there used to be a tradition called the "Laundry Train." There was a local passenger train that stopped at the depot near campus, it picked up mail and delivered them to all the tiny towns along the rail line. Students would wrap up their laundry on Friday, address the parcel to their Mother in their hometown, and drop it at the depot. Saturday, Mom did the laundry and mailed it back. On Sunday night, the train would arrive back in town, laden with parcels of freshly laundered clothes.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:14 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


muddgirl: "It's not about having to deal with actual people, it's about having to deal with people that make you feel "uncomfortable", like your neighbors or old people with funny accents."

On the plus side my street slang Spanish has been majorly disrupted,

Cállate!, Odio su cara vavosa
posted by wcfields at 12:15 PM on June 5


I'm calling imodium tablets "digestion disruptors" now.
posted by duffell at 12:15 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


I cannot do my laundry in BitCoins any more than I can do them in dollars.

Hmmm, I guess BitCoin is more for laundering money than money for laundry....
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:18 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


This article highlights everything that is wrong with our economy. It tells the story of people who are looking to blast a new business onto the scene and quickly cash out. "Let’s do it in 50, 60 cities,” he told Dulanto. “Let’s literally go into every market.”

Capitalism depends on growth. If you debut your company at its maximum potential, it will have a short life cycle and you will be stuck managing decline, and that will largely be on the backs of your employees, vendors, and customers.

That is the problem with our economy - all businesses are instantly global, they crowd out all the small players, and then they start cannibalizing. Look at the guy mentioned, Haroon Mokhtarzada, an early internet prodigy who had sold his build-your-own-website website, Webs.com, for $118 million in 2011. Sure, he may have disrupted things, but he sucked up an immense amount of money from the economy in the process. Those companies won't have to spend as much to get their own website, but collectively, they're slitting their own throats by sending money away from their local economy. Try playing monopoly in a scenario where, instead of paying rent to your opponent, you pay 1/2 the rent to the bank instead. See how long the game lasts.
posted by RalphSlate at 12:19 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]



I'm not clear on why this is more sinister than other delivery services. But I'm a Bay Area software engineer with a philosophy degree, so I guess no more could be expected.


See, this is one reason that I actually want to do my own laundry. I don't want to become the kind of person who feels that some underpaid immigrant somewhere should do my laundry for a pittance at any hour of day or night so that it can be returned to me in a high design bag with along with a locally sourced cookie, about which I will then complain because it is not low carb.

Obviously, some folks can't do their own laundry. Obviously most of us don't want to live in a tent and wash our laundry by hand in a stream. But it seems like the more you let yourself get out of the habit of living an ordinary life - sleeping on regular thread-count sheets, occasionally waiting in a line, doing your own chores to the extent of your capacity, eating standard food instead of custom-crafted exotica, requesting an appointment and then keeping the appointment instead of expecting to be served by peons the second you see fit to walk in the door - well, the more you get out of the habits of an ordinary working person's life, the more ludicrous your standards become and the more demands you feel entitled to make on others. You become so special, of course, that even your laundry has to be driven around in a late-model car by a part time actor. You become so special that the idea of waiting in line is foreign to you, as is taking the bus. And that just seems like a crippling way to live.

Also, so much of this type of service is based on the idea that the customer and the worker are totally different. It's not that I'm Frowner the Baker and I go to the post office and Smiler the post office worker sells me stamps and then some evening Smiler comes in to the bakery and buys bread; it's that I am the Customer!!! who must never have wait times or any kind of inconvenience or be met with anything other than smiling, silky-smooth groveling techniques....which must be delivered by the Worker!!! who has no important subjectivity except inasmuch as he or she aspires to be a wonderful laundry ninja (!) or barrista or driver of an Uber vehicle. And the Worker must maintain her body, her smile, her face, her hair, her car, her clothes, her voice...all on her own time and her own nickel...to ridiculous television standards because I, the Customer, must never see anyone old or fat or ill or even badly dressed or driving an old car. (Let those people do the shitty jobs, because they are too inferior to meet the sacred Customer.)
posted by Frowner at 12:20 PM on June 5 [66 favorites]


Oakland open secret: Magic Laundry on Adeline does wash-n-fold really well for absurdly little money. You have to take it there and pick it up yourself, though, so.

the horror
posted by entropone at 12:20 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


You know what's even worse? I've heard there are services where you can call someone or even go online and order food to be delivered to your house! What's with these massively entitled douches who can't even be bothered to make a sandwich? I'm glad we're here to give them the hate they deserve.
posted by fader at 12:24 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Never ordered a sandwich online.
posted by colie at 12:27 PM on June 5


I don't think a laundry delivery service is necessarily super evil per se, but they've existed for decades without needing VC heavy dotcoms to add special flair.
posted by kmz at 12:28 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


You know what's even worse? I've heard there are services where you can call someone or even go online and order food to be delivered to your house!

Yeah, and most of those are shit jobs dependent on a long chain of shitty food production and delivery jobs, jobs which immiserate workers all around the world. When those workers are paid a living wage, then we'll talk. Otherwise it's just Shoe Event Horizon all the way down.

The problem with this kind of service is that it's dependent on having a large class of extremely economically vulnerable people, a small class of people with tons of money and a small class of people with enough money that they can sometimes use the service. If the people doing the laundry were paid a living wage, this wouldn't be profitable unless it cost a lot more. If the people delivering the laundry got a living wage, it wouldn't be profitable.

And it's precisely because there's a huge class of economically vulnerable people that all this disgusting groveling and my-identity-is-work stuff is possible, as is all the "you must have your own late model car in order to pick up dirty laundry" business. Right now, so many people are so fucking broke that they will accept those working conditions even though they are so grotesque that they'd make Thomas Disch laugh.
posted by Frowner at 12:31 PM on June 5 [88 favorites]


Frowner, I want to favorite you so hard.
posted by anastasiav at 12:33 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


I'm seeking capital to fund my new app that wipes your a$$ for you. Each wipe only costs a fraction of a penny! It's scale-able, and just imagine the billions of dirty butts that need a$$ wipes from people like me.

Once the billions start swiping and the app starts wiping, we're (you & me) going to be filthy rich, and the world will be a cleaner, healthier place! (World Peace? amirite)
posted by nikoniko at 12:34 PM on June 5


I'm not clear on why this is more sinister than other delivery services. But I'm a Bay Area software engineer with a philosophy degree, so I guess no more could be expected.

It's not so much laundry qua laundry. It's the combination of I-saw-the-greatest-minds-of-my-generation-consumed....by how to make laundry 10% easier and 2x more expensive, and all the bullshit about "disrupting" and "innovating" which appears to end up meaning "killing off a bunch of small local businesses for a net loss of decent jobs in the name of saving people who make $100k a year five minutes a week" and then--and this is really the topper---expecting to be treated with the reverence due a Scwietzer or a Salk and also the renumeration of a Gates or a Buffett for their trouble.


Honest to god, if there were any evidence at all that the internet revolution was creating an economy that helped anyone besides code monkeys, you wouldn't get this shit. But the rest of us have seen Downton Abby and we're not looking forward to taking up livery again, even if it's in the form if eco-friendly threadless hoodies instead of hose and embroidery.
posted by Diablevert at 12:35 PM on June 5 [40 favorites]


I'm dreaming dreams, I'm scheming schemes,
I'm building castles high
They're born anew, their days are few,
Just like a sweet butterfly
And as the daylight is dawning,
They come again in the morning

I'm forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air,
They fly so high, nearly reach the sky,
Then like my dreams, they fade and die
Fortune's always hiding, I've looked everywhere
I'm forever blowing bubbles, pretty bubbles in the air

When shadows creep, when I'm asleep
To lands of hope I stray
Then at daybreak, when I awake,
My bluebird flutters away
Happiness new seemed so near me,
Happiness come forth and heal me

I'm forever blowing bubbles . . .
 
posted by Herodios at 12:36 PM on June 5


Also, if I could get a job doing other people's laundry for $50 per bag I'd quit my job in a heartbeat and spend all day at the laundromat instead. I'd make a ton more money and could make the PTO meetings.
posted by anastasiav at 12:36 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Associating this guy with "greatest-minds-of-my-generation" is probably a stretch.
posted by rq at 12:41 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I clicked on that thinking for sure it was going to be about Mac-Gray.
posted by lagomorphius at 12:52 PM on June 5


I got the All Night Laundry Mat* Blues
I'm washing everything I own e'cept m'shoes
I got 'ring-around-the-collar' and it smells like sweat
An hour in the drier and it ain't dry yet
If you wear clothes you gotta pay the dues
And sing the All Night Laundry Mat Blues, yes you do
Sing the All Night Laundry Mat Blues

------------------
* Yes, "laundry mat".

posted by Herodios at 12:55 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Students would wrap up their laundry on Friday, address the parcel to their Mother in their hometown, and drop it at the depot. Saturday, Mom did the laundry and mailed it back. On Sunday night, the train would arrive back in town, laden with parcels of freshly laundered clothes.

Man, the way the world works, you know? I hear about these fascinating bits of history, and then read Metzner waxing rhapsodic about the Argentinian lavanderias: "These women would just stay there all day and do laundry, and your clothes smell incredible, they fold them perfectly, they package them perfectly."

Plus the fact that the vast majority of these young-ish internet entrepreneurs seem to be men, and...it's sort of fascinating the way that these enterprises always seem to be built on the backs of a huge underclass of women who actually *do* the work for a hell of a lot less money than anyone else involved. From moms of past and present to Argentinian women to immigrants in the US in these wholesale shops, a huge undifferentiated mass of (mostly) female humanity who apparently have nothing better to do (they stay there! all day!) than take care of the laundry for everyone else.
posted by Salieri at 12:56 PM on June 5 [35 favorites]


I'm definitely in the target market for these services. When I first moved to NYC it was into a fourth-floor walk-up with the nearest laundromat three blocks away. I already hated doing laundry (well, not doing it so much, more folding clothes), and I tend to have too many clothes because I'm kind of a packrat, so I was doing all my laundry in big apocalyptic loads every two weeks or so. After a few rounds of taking those up and down the stairs and down the street, I decided to just use a delivery service and chalk up the cost as just another thing that would be more expensive in NYC.

And I must say, as someone who really doesn't like doing laundry, I love the delivery services. Love them! Yeah, it makes me feel a bit petit-bourgeois sometimes, but the convenience is totally worth the price to me.

I think I am largely benefitting from the fact the NYC already has a pretty extensive laundry infrastructure in place. I call my laundry, tell them my name, and they're there in 30 minutes. They've got my card on file, and I call them back in a day or two to have them drop it off, again in about 30 minutes. One thing I don't really need is a specific app to perform this phone call for me, though I guess I would use it if it existed. As far as start-ups hiring models to deliver it for me, that seems like a complete waste of money.
posted by whir at 1:00 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Oakland open secret: Magic Laundry on Adeline does wash-n-fold really well for absurdly little money.

I live two blocks down, they just raised their price from 70¢ to 80¢ /lb. I've never taken them up on it. I had to stop going because on weekend half the machines were always taken up by the employees washing stuff for customers with more disposable income than me, and the other half the machines were bust.

I prefer Advantage because rows and rows of new fast machines with an array of capacity choices makes the labor a little less dreary.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:03 PM on June 5


I'm not clear on why this is more sinister than other delivery services.

I think what I was going to say about this was already said pretty eloquently, but it's something I think about often enough that I wanted to try to suss it out for myself. Many of our friends are big fans of these... app-based services, for want of a better word. Uber, Foodler, Drizzly (booze delivery). It's great for them because all they have to do is whip out their smartphones and the car/dinner/drinks arrive a half hour later. No cash, no one to misinterpret what you want over the phone. Sounds great!

So what's the difference between, say, Uber and a regular taxi? Or this laundry service and a laundromat that delivers? I think the thing that bothers me the most about it is the way these new services manage to skirt the law without ever running afoul of it. Uber can get away with charging less (usually) because their drivers aren't their own employees, they're "independent contractors". I could effectively pay under minimum wage and break any other kinds of labor laws by doing the same sort of "outsourcing" for anything, all the while skimming a nice profit off the top.

Not only that, but the protections to the consumer that the law allows seem to vaporize as well. If your Uber gets in an accident (or your laundry comes back three sizes smaller, or whatever), you have no recourse with Uber/Washio/whatever - they're just the middleman. They don't control their own employees, so who do you go to?

I dislike taxis as much as the next person, but I get why the taxi unions are incredibly pissed at Uber (and all the other beefs with other similar services). These "disruptive" services get to play by a different set of rules. They don't have to follow the same social contract the rest of the industry does, and that gets a lot of people (rightly, in my opinion) pretty angry.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:04 PM on June 5 [38 favorites]


There's a SUPER amount of really weird projection and assumption here that I find both amazing and distasteful. But I guess it's okay to snark on this guy 'cause he's one of those business types, right?

Are these guys super young? Yep. Are they douchbags because they want to start a business? No.

Are they douchebags because they look at businesses that are succeeding, and then try to extract the magic bit and apply it to other industries? Again, no.

Is it douchey to look at a historically hidebound, low margin, low tech industry and get excited by what might be possible there? Absolutely not.

"expecting to be treated with the reverence due a Scwietzer or a Salk and also the renumeration of a Gates or a Buffett for their trouble"

I'm not sure we read the same article.

This isn't to say there aren't problems with capitalism or our economy; it's just that this article, and especially this thread, seems way more happy to shit on these guys than really seems warranted.
posted by uberchet at 1:05 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


I use this service. I'm not prepared to defend it, but I am prepared to enjoy it.

I have tried a wide variety of other laundry services, including doing my own. None of them work as well, none of them fold as well.

Didn't get my cookie last time, though.
posted by poe at 1:08 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


people who don't do their own laundry are sus

i guess i currently have a load of clean laundry sitting unfolded in my bedroom but it's basically an extra dog bed at this point. multi-tasking.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:10 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


seems way more happy to shit on these guys than really seems warranted

It sounds to me like there's an opportunity here for someone to disrupt the tired, old-fashioned process of getting manually shit on by nobodies on the internet. Seems like there should be an app for that by now.
posted by muddgirl at 1:12 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


“The laundry and dry-­cleaning industry, it’s all, like, old people,” says Dulanto in the nose-wrinkling manner of someone for whom aging is still an abstract concept. “They’re not tech savvy, and they still put up those really ugly stickers with that ’90s clip art.”


Also, fuck this guy. Laundromats are usually entry-level businesses for many immigrants looking to move into the middle-class in a 'dirty' profession long abandoned by whites. Its shitlords in the industry like this guy who see opportunity to skim off the top by insisting what the industry needs more young white people middle-persons knocking on doors to hand you your unmentionables, instead of drudgery of having spend an hour sitting in a room filled with linoleum, lower-class people and The Game playing on the last remaining CRT TV in captivity.

I'm starting to wonder if this app-based service explosion isn't the new economy but the new dog-whistle.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:14 PM on June 5 [25 favorites]


But seriously, yeah, I have a hard to thinking that this article is "unwarranted" in its snarkiness when the generic business model is nakedly, "Young upper-middle-class people don't want to associate with anyone not like themselves, and they'll pay us handsomely for the privilege of avoiding the realities of living in a big city."

It's not only racism/xenophobia, it's an old-fashioned sort of classicism. It's separating the service economy into the back-of-house where your laundry gets washed and your food gets prepared, and the front-of-house who act as intermediaries so you can sit at remove from the reality of how the sausage is made.
posted by muddgirl at 1:19 PM on June 5 [9 favorites]


Sometimes the reason an industry isn't "disrupted" is because it's pretty much exactly where it's ever going to be.

I did fluff and fold for awhile, even though my condo had laundry, because it was easier. Right up until I got someone else's shirt in my bag, and they lost my nightgown. Then I got skivved out and went back to doing my own.

If you think about it, why would a laundromat NEED a webpage? I don't know of a nationally branded laundromat service, it's always just some place with plate glass windows in the shopping center where the taco truck is. Do they even HAVE names? You go to the one closest to your house. Done.

Same for nail salons. Call it whatever you like, I'll just go to the nearest place with the decal of a hand holding a rose in the window.

Laundry isn't the type of service people get all hot and bothered by typically, it's fickle, and the MINUTE someone can have their own washer and dryer, that's the end of it.

So once the idea catches on, it's a race to the bottom price-wise and then it's not worth it anymore.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:21 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Are they douchebags because they want to start a business? No.

Actually they are. Young white men 'starting a business' is most of what's wrong with the world.
posted by colie at 1:23 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


uberchet: "This isn't to say there aren't problems with capitalism or our economy; it's just that this article, and especially this thread, seems way more happy to shit on these guys than really seems warranted.
"

im just a happy go luck 24 yo with an mba and some swagga in his walk u kno? I think theres so much low hanging fruit for a hard working (and hard playing!!!! lol) dude with a mind of disrupting some old paradigms
newayz if u know sum vc partners hit me up on chumblr cuz i have many new ideas of disrupting how we do all so many mundane things. like all the things.
posted by boo_radley at 1:26 PM on June 5 [19 favorites]


like??? what if you need a plumbler, but don't have a phone book or recommendations or craigslist or angieslist ? call us and we can recommend a service for you that will recommend a plumper for you. (note to self: cookies on first conversion? could be great)
posted by boo_radley at 1:28 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


"Young upper-middle-class people don't want to associate with anyone not like themselves, and they'll pay us handsomely for the privilege of avoiding the realities of living in a big city."

Their Never Interact With a Person of Color-Safe Bleach has been very popular.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:30 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


The past few comments have given me a great idea to inject more revenue into this site: monetize AskMetaFi.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:37 PM on June 5


and the MINUTE someone can have their own washer and dryer,

I live alone and owning and operating a washer and dryer is not a slam dunk over paying the folks at the laundromat $1 pound. Especially if you count the folding.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:38 PM on June 5


beyond the snark, though, and for serious, there are a dozen places that offer this kind of service and I live in a mixed class neighborhood in Colorado (as opposed to cash flush SV). Pick up the phone, tell them you have a bag o' laundry and they come, pick it up, wash it, dry it, fold it, put it in a box and deliver it back to you. That is the value of the service. I don't even care about the "I don't want to go to a laundromat/ do my own chores/ whatever" aspect of the conversation. If you have $20, and you think, fuckit, I'm going to give this $20 to somebody to turn dirty laundry into clean laundry -- go for it. Go nuts. The issue is these services are common already. Cookies aside, there's no value add to washio.
posted by boo_radley at 1:39 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


“Starting a business” means establishing relationships that are exploitive by nature. If you can find a reason to pretend that’s not true, for example by believing that an employee can at any time and with enough hard work become an employer themselves, or a reason it’s morally defensible, for example by believing that a crappy, soul-sucking, life-denying job is better than some strawman alternative, then no, there’s nothing wrong with “starting a business.”

Most people will do just about anything to convince themselves they’re not doing harm to other people. Free-market ideology is partly moral justification. It wasn’t until I had to work a crappy, soul-sucking, life-denying job myself that I stopped being too naive to understand this.
posted by tepidmonkey at 1:41 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Never ordered a sandwich online.

sudo make me a sandwich
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:41 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


They should totally get into the market of selling time on lightly used washing machines in people's houses and apartments.

It would be like couch-surfing but instead of sleeping on someone's couch you basically just got over to their house and do laundry.

The really cool people would of course offer wine and and cheese platters to their laundry guests and some would eventually just offer Laundry service from their homes.

Ohhh how about full service Laundry and Babysitting. Drop off your kids and your dirty laundry and go get drinks with your friends.

Of course only white people would be allowed to be employees for the company because nobody wants to drop off their kids and laundry with minorities.
posted by vuron at 1:43 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


“Starting a business” means establishing relationships that are exploitive by nature. If you can find a reason to pretend that’s not true, for example by believing that an employee can at any time and with enough hard work become an employer themselves, or a reason it’s morally defensible, for example by believing that a crappy, soul-sucking, life-denying job is better than some strawman alternative, then no, there’s nothing wrong with “starting a business.”

This article seems like a weird launching point for such a broadly ideological polemic, but I'll take the bait. What's the alternative to starting a business? Doing the work required/making the products desired yourself? Looking for volunteers? Crowdfunding people to do it instead of hiring them? Kickstarter?
posted by Apocryphon at 1:48 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


But seriously, yeah, I have a hard to thinking that this article is "unwarranted" in its snarkiness when the generic business model is nakedly, "Young upper-middle-class people don't want to associate with anyone not like themselves, and they'll pay us handsomely for the privilege of avoiding the realities of living in a big city."
The idea that this is about avoiding immigrant laundries because racism is really bizarre. The author inserts the idea into the story, but it's not something the Washio guys mention *at all*. The point of it is to make laundry more convenient in places where people with disposable incomes don't also have washers and dryers. It's fluffed up delivery, which has existed for years.

It's not racist to see people with money who dislike doing chores, and try to make money by doing those chores for them. It's not xenophobic to see that an Uber-like convenience factor could be attached to lots of things.

I am, of course, NOT AT ALL surprised that lots of Mefi is down on this guy. Because, for real, like, he MUST be an asshole, right? I mean, who does he think he is, starting a business and all?

That laundries are frequently first-tier immigrant businesses doesn't mean they get a free pass from new models or competition.
Young white men starting a business is most of what's wrong with the world.
Seriously, colie? Are you for real right now?

And boo_radley? Yeah, not EVEN going to the trouble with you.
posted by uberchet at 1:56 PM on June 5 [11 favorites]


I will crowdsource my laundry. Every one commenting in this thread will receive one piece of my artisanally soiled laundry, and when it arrives back clean I will make micropayments in a fake currency.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:58 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


Yes, all of those are good examples. I wasn’t trying to bait anyone, but my tone was too polemic and I’m sorry about that. Mainly I feel bad for people with awful jobs they wouldn’t keep if they didn’t need money for food. I don’t know what to do about it. I wish I had a solution.
posted by tepidmonkey at 1:58 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Or you hire one of the dozens of existing laundry services to pick up, wash, fold, and deliver your clothes to you, which services have been around for basically forever.

Wait, what? I have never heard of such a thing. I take my nice shirts to a cleaners, which washes them, and then wraps them up in plastic bags, and then I take them home and put them away myself; but laundry, per se, I have to do on my own. There are seriously people who will come to my house, take my dirty clothes away, clean them, and bring them back, all sorted out? How do I find such a service? Is it phenomenally expensive?

Is this what I get for never seeing internet ads? Have there been ads for laundry companies all over the web since the punch-the-monkey era and I just haven't noticed? Seriously, how does one learn that this category of business even exists?
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:58 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


posted by uberchet
Eponysterical!

posted by dialetheia at 1:59 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


The idea that this is about avoiding immigrant laundries because racism is really bizarre.

I agree there's no evidence that this is what this is about. But what is it about? I mean, what's the added value? The only real improvement I personally see is that there's an iphone app for it so it can store your credit card number.

Metzner personally cites one of the added values as being the 'premium' people you interact with. And by 'premium', he means they look nice.

Since these were the main people interacting with customers, Metzner was adamant about being choosy. [...] He presses play on a promotional video of a pretty brunette in a Washio T-shirt, leaning against her black Mercedes. In Los Angeles, a lot of the drivers are actors, and their headshots are tacked on a bulletin board at the office. “That guy,” he says of one hunky blond we see picking up a bag of laundry to take out, “he could be in Twilight or something.”
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:05 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


The problem is that some Silicon Valley VC disruptors are basically thinking a) that they can slice off a certain percentage of the economic transaction by offering what is essentially a clearing house of labor from independent contractors and b) by offering a single marketspace they can provide a new novel service that provides value-add to what is essentially a universal need to high paid professional who's most important resource is time.

I understand the "value" being generated it's just that it's basically just a small number of bro-grammers thinking they have the right to skim off a little of the surplus value of labor by providing a webapp that is going to get people pissed off. Especially if the labor they are using is basically exploiting economically vulnerable workers.
posted by vuron at 2:05 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


Yes, all of those are good examples. I wasn’t trying to bait anyone, but my tone was too polemic and I’m sorry about that. Mainly I feel bad for people with awful jobs they wouldn’t keep if they didn’t need money for food. I don’t know what to do about it. I wish I had a solution.

I agree with that, it just seemed like you were critiquing the concept of jobs in general, which is fine for a discussion about things like guaranteed minimum income or the crushing soulessness of the American workplace and so on, but seems oddly off-target for this discussion. There are all sorts of things we can say are problematic about these "apptized" services, but to criticize this on basis of "starting businesses is exploitative" seems really broad. Not to mention that these services are usually flexible and even somewhat voluntary in nature, maybe workers for them are happier than they would be if they worked at a traditional laundromat/taxi service/housekeeping company? Seems like most of the concern is in how they displace traditional workers, not exploit new ones.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:05 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


The idea that this is about avoiding immigrant laundries because racism is really bizarre.

I actually didn't use the word racism in my comment, and neither did the author of the OP. I actually argued that it's an old form of classism. It's not that traditionally laundry services are staffed by Asian people, it's the fact that they're staffed by people who are not "like" the clients.

but it's not something the Washio guys mention *at all*

Well, they do, actually. One of the founders lists it as their specific discriminator from the kinds of laundry services that already exist
In urban centers like New York and Chicago, many places offer delivery already. But: “The laundry and dry-­cleaning industry, it’s all, like, old people,” says Durante...
And when talking about their delivery drivers:
“I’m positive that we could go on Craigslist and post an ad for a delivery driver, and find plenty of people with crappy cars who would work for minimum wage,” he says, grabbing his laptop and flopping onto a couch in the Washio break room. “But I mean, you are going to get crappy people who don’t want to put their best effort forward and have a shitty vehicle that looks not nice. We decided to go a different route, where we can have premium people doing ­premium work.”
Why does it matter that the delivery drivers drive nicer cars and look like "premium people?" Why is that a value-added?
posted by muddgirl at 2:05 PM on June 5 [15 favorites]


Not wanting to wait in line: entitled!

Remember to do your banking in person, in public, surrounded by your community, rather than doing it online. It's the Good and Moral choice.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:06 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


ha ha yes come to the defense of shitty tech bros looking to "monetize" something in fucked up ways i see you all im watching
posted by beefetish at 2:07 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Not wanting to wait in line: entitled!

Very few people are railing against delivery services themselves. But yes, the idea that slapping a web app and "premium" couriers on an existing process is worth millions of dollars in venture capital is laughable to me.
posted by muddgirl at 2:10 PM on June 5 [12 favorites]


The discussion of "premium people" was in contrast to the option of hiring minimum wage people, not foreigners. There's a stigma for that, both in terms of being a minimum wage worker and in being someone who employs minimum wage people.

It's not unreasonable to want the "front of the house" for any business to be presentable and businesslike.
posted by uberchet at 2:11 PM on June 5


If Watch_Dogs was set in S.F., and be a Grand Theft Auto-styled social satire wherein you bring havoc to brogrammer startups and NSA-data mining megacorps like, that would be only one way of many to be a better game.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:11 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


The discussion of "premium people" was in contrast to the option of hiring minimum wage people, not foreigners. There's a stigma for that, both in terms of being a minimum wage worker and in being someone who employs minimum wage people.

Yes? Which is why I've been talking about classism this whole time. The idea that there are "minimum-wage people" who don't deserve to carry ones dirty laundry is exactly what I'm talking about.
posted by muddgirl at 2:13 PM on June 5 [14 favorites]


Herodios: If you wear clothes you gotta pay the dues

This suggests a more economical alternative.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:16 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


There are seriously people who will come to my house, take my dirty clothes away, clean them, and bring them back, all sorted out? How do I find such a service? Is it phenomenally expensive?

They're in the phone book. It's basically the same charge you pay for dropping it off plus a fee for transport.

For me the hard part is getting everything together. If I have to get it all together anyway I might as well drop it off myself. Give me a service that will come into my house and collect my towels and comforter and that one sock that slid under the bed and I'm willing to talk serious money.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:17 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


The Internet Of Laundry

The Laundromat of Things
posted by murphy slaw at 2:21 PM on June 5 [10 favorites]


“I’m positive that we could go on Craigslist and post an ad for a delivery driver, and find plenty of people with crappy cars who would work for minimum wage,” he says, grabbing his laptop and flopping onto a couch in the Washio break room. “But I mean, you are going to get crappy people who don’t want to put their best effort forward and have a shitty vehicle that looks not nice. We decided to go a different route, where we can have premium people doing ­premium work.”
Why does it matter that the delivery drivers drive nicer cars and look like "premium people?" Why is that a value-added?


Hmm.

On one hand I do get some "ugh poor people are icky" vibe from this. On the other hand, I am 100% down with a business saying "this service job is often paid minimum wage, but we want to provide better service, and we're prepared to pay our employees better to achieve that goal."

But the real bottom line is I'm going to keep doing my own laundry. And buying/baking my own cookies.
posted by aubilenon at 2:21 PM on June 5


Tell Me No Lies: For me the hard part is getting everything together. If I have to get it all together anyway I might as well drop it off myself. Give me a service that will come into my house and collect my towels and comforter and that one sock that slid under the bed and I'm willing to talk serious money.

I'm not sure if they call them maids or cleaning services now, but you can get someone to do that. It isn't cheap, but you did say 'serious money'.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:23 PM on June 5


Not only are these companies overvalued and of questionable utility, they're run by tech bros. Brogrammers! Young, nerdy, and utterly unlike your friends. They are lacking in taste and probably think they are better than you. Ruining everything, they are.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:23 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


uberchet: "The discussion of "premium people" was in contrast to the option of hiring minimum wage people, not foreigners. There's a stigma for that, both in terms of being a minimum wage worker and in being someone who employs minimum wage people."

How does this come up in the transaction, though? Does the washio staff member inform people of their wage when they engage in a transaction? How do you know what money your current laundry service pays its people? These are (to my mind) weird assumptions.
posted by boo_radley at 2:23 PM on June 5


"On the other hand, I am 100% down with a business saying "this service job is often paid minimum wage, but we want to provide better service, and we're prepared to pay our employees better to achieve that goal.""

This is exactly the piece of it that muddgirl is refusing to acknowledge.
posted by uberchet at 2:24 PM on June 5


aubilenon: On one hand I do get some "ugh poor people are icky" vibe from this. On the other hand, I am 100% down with a business saying "this service job is often paid minimum wage, but we want to provide better service, and we're prepared to pay our employees better to achieve that goal."

You know, I don't get the second vibe you see from this. It would be one thing to hire more reputable employees for more money, buy them spiffy uniforms, and send them out in shiny company vehicles. However, it sounds like they're just using people who already look good and already have fancy cars themselves. That absolutely reeks of exploitation - maybe they get paid a little more than regular delivery guys but I doubt they're getting paid enough to maintain their shiny possessions. It's a second job for people who already have a good first job, and I don't see how that is a very practical hiring model.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:26 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


This is exactly the piece of it that muddgirl is refusing to acknowledge.

She isn't doing anything of the sort. You're the one making weird post-hoc arguments to justify the way this guy talked about The Poors in his own interview. He didn't say one damn word about their employees' quality of life, just that he wants them to be "premium people", which is basically classism/elitism by definition.
posted by dialetheia at 2:27 PM on June 5 [15 favorites]


You know I've never been been sure how "entitled" finds its way into conversations about paid services. Isn't the point of entitlement that you feel it is something you deserve just for existing? I suppose if you were laying claim to services without paying more or something.

Now privilege, that I understand. Wealth definitely grants significant privileges when it comes to daily chores.

But entitlement? Not so much.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:27 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I didn't realize how highly they got paid. Anonymous user on Quora says "$20/hour. But they are 1099 contractors that use their own vehicles and pay their own expenses (maintenace, fuel etc..)". Not sure how much that comes down to once you subtract all that other stuff.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:27 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Now privilege, that I understand. Wealth definitely grants significant privileges when it comes to daily chores.

It's a luxury people will pay extra for. If it's entitlement, then going to a grocery store instead of farming is entitlement.
posted by rhizome at 2:29 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


The Uber model works precisely because the earnings seem attractive, but they don't bear out once you start doing the math on expenses. That math is hidden from you deliberately, so you're left to figure it out the unpleasant way. Meanwhile there are carrots dangled (you could earn $90k in a year!) that are just wildly wrong unless you're capable of superhuman hustling.
posted by naju at 2:35 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


Ohhh how about full service Laundry and Babysitting. Drop off your kids and your dirty laundry and go get drinks with your friends.

I keep seeing laundromats that also serve booze pop up and go under. It seems like a good model -- get laundry clean, and get a drink while you wait! But it turns out that one of the downsides of laundromats is random creepy people staring at you while waiting for their laundry, and adding booze actually makes this way worse. So they go under.

I actually kind of enjoy laundry, esp. in the kind of laundry room that is empty and has lots and lots of machines. I would normally assume I'd hate doing it for a living, but I actually did get paid to do laundry a few times, and I still wasn't tired of it after several 8-hour days. Maybe it takes longer than that to stop loving the fluffy towels. It's just so nice seeing things get clean, and not having to do very much to make it happen.
posted by pie ninja at 2:37 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


While our initial intention for naming our new app designed to meet all the mundane daily needs of wealthy young tech-savvy males was Momio, early focus groups determined that a large percentage of our target market had live-in nannies during their childhoods. So we've went with Maria-O. Our logo is a silhouette of a Work Visa document on a blue background.
posted by TimTypeZed at 2:38 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


lol yeah, what a bunch of babies. When we pay people to do things for us like clean, cook food or drive us around, we're busy, community-minded adults who keep the economy moving. But tech bros buy services because they are coddled, alienated man-children, and what's more I'm imagining they do it with a classist sneer.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:13 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


Anonymous user on Quora says "$20/hour. But they are 1099 contractors that use their own vehicles and pay their own expenses (maintenace, fuel etc..)".

And that right there is why we're still stuck in the recovery-less recovery. It's criminal (actually, literally criminal in a lot of places) to hire someone on as a "contractor" when you're their only employer. If a person is picking up piecework as a delivery driver for this company, plus the Chinese takeout down the street, plus the liquor store... well, fine they're a contractor. But if your sole source of employment is delivering for Washio then all they're doing is fucking you over, twenty dollars an hour be damned.

Since you're a "contractor" now, several things happen. You're your own business! You owe the government the employer half of social security taxes, plus your own half. You're on your own for health insurance. You have no bargaining rights, no rights if they decide to fire you, no recourse for most workplace disputes. You basically get none of the protections a regularly-employed person enjoys.

And in the end, that's what employment is. There is a certain give-and-take when you decide to be employed by someone else; yes, my labor is being used to enrich someone else, but I have protections (most notably the expectation of a regular paycheck every week regardless of the performance of the company) that the business owner does not. They may take my labor and turn it into earnings for themselves, but they are exposed to significantly more risk than I am.

This employee-as-contractor thing allows the employee to get screwed both ways - you get none of the protections of regular employment and you get to take the risk burden of the business owner. That's how these kinds of companies can undercut the regular competition, and that's why it's super shitty.
posted by backseatpilot at 3:16 PM on June 5 [35 favorites]


Young white men starting a business is most of what's wrong with the world.

Seriously, colie? Are you for real right now?


You missed colie's quote marks. "Starting a business" and "entrepreneurship" don't reference any actually real thing; they're signifiers of an ideology. When people use terms like that they're actually talking about the ideal of our current economy: privileged rich idiots giving their (ill-gotten) money to their privileged idiot children so that they can make more money by exploiting the poor rather than having to find something worthwhile to do with themselves.
posted by junco at 3:24 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


backseatpilot: It's criminal (actually, literally criminal in a lot of places) to hire someone on as a "contractor" when you're their only employer

One thing that strikes me about a lot of these 'disruptive' businesses in Silicon valley is that they seem to have a total disregard for regulations and legal liability. I guess they get away with it because of small size and a friendly enforcement environment, but setting up that way when you intend to grow is just stupid. Eventually, either a lawsuit or an accident will happen either due to size or expanding into other regions, and then you've going to get destroyed in court because you're obviously and openly in violation.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:33 PM on June 5 [7 favorites]


I keep seeing laundromats that also serve booze pop up and go under.

If anyone wants to patent a business model I've got one I've been saving for a rainy day: coin operated washers and dryers that are also slot machines. You always get a load of laundry done but you have a chance at fabulous prizes, and either way there's lots of exciting blinking lights.

(I believe the fact that the player customer always gets a load of laundry will allow you to get around any local gambling laws)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:45 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


One thing that strikes me about a lot of these 'disruptive' businesses in Silicon valley is that they seem to have a total disregard for regulations and legal liability.

I live and work in San Jose. If I never hear the phrase "innovate first, regulate later" again, it'll still be too damn soon and too damn often.
posted by bakerina at 3:56 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]


See, this is one reason that I actually want to do my own laundry. I don't want to become the kind of person who feels that some underpaid immigrant somewhere should do my laundry for a pittance...
... Also, so much of this type of service is based on the idea that the customer and the worker are totally different.


I think the elephant in the room being missed here is that right now in the USA, wealth IS extremely concentrated, so hanging this vast economy of service work off those few with significant disposable income is currently the only way to keep vast swathes of society employed - or at least it's the only way without changing some social and economic fundamentals (which desperately need to be changed).

For all this hating on them, people who pay others to do their laundry are supporting local people in a way that doing your own laundry and spending the money on more gadgets and geegaws instead, isn't. Trickle-down may be bullshit policy, but it looks to me that right now, our society is failing to offer anything better to an awful lot of people, and THAT should be the target of anger, not people employing others for household chores.
posted by anonymisc at 3:57 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


coin operated washers and dryers that are also slot machines

And instead of cherries, bananas, and pineapples, you get little rows of socks, washcloths, and bras.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:03 PM on June 5


I keep seeing laundromats that also serve booze pop up and go under.

I think that stems from someone sitting in a laundromat and thought to them selves, "This place is the definition of dreary. We should stick a wine bar in here, that would really spruce the place up." Wrong approach.

Take a place like Brainwash in SF. Its a cafe first, entry-level comedy/music/poetry club second and laundromat/dry clearers last.

No one wants to hang at a laundromat even if they had beer and free Wi-Fi. Everyone wants to hang at a cafe while drinking a beer, that also happens to have laundry machines.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:05 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


I just wish Brainwash took better care of their pinball tables.
posted by aubilenon at 4:12 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


I would be all over this if it came to Chicago. Last I checked the only laundry delivery service that comes to this part of Chicago screwed me over. If there are other services I haven't tried, well, they don't have websites, they're not on Yelp, and if I called them they may not understand what I'm saying. Laundry in a 3rd floor walk up without having a car seriously sucks. When I lived in a house with my own machines I loved laundry day. When I had a car and could drive to the laundrymat I loved laundry day. Now it literally takes all day and is totally exhausting - even just wheeling it down to the laundrymat is exhausting. Which, I'm not too good to sit and do it myself but there's just so fucking much of it the thought of it just makes me want to sleep. The last time I tried to drop it off the lady refused to accept it and couldn't tell me why so I stopped doing that. Then I get it home and I'm so exhausted that it never gets properly unpacked.

I would do TaskRabbit but I can't figure out if that's helping to oppress my fellow proletariat or what. I don't care what anyone looks like or what car they drive as long as they make a living wage and understand what I'm saying.

So this is all to say that I think this is a legitimate need. The execution is douchy but wanting help with laundry isn't entitled or ridiculous on the face of it.
posted by bleep at 4:15 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Much of Silicon Valley innovation is specifically modeled around "what will make it even easier to be a well-paid 20-something white guy?" (and possibly also "a well-paid 20-something asian guy?") So, messaging apps to make it easier to get together for an evening, someone to do your laundry, etc.

Which seems a very direct result of the biases in funding that are happening out there.


I probably wouldn't pick funding bias so much as the demographics of the labor force in tech. When most people try to invent something for the first time, they try to find a way to improve something in their own life. Trying to invent something to improve a life you don't have experience with, that's difficult, and in this context is widely denigrated as Engineer's Disease.
posted by anonymisc at 4:16 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


They're in the phone book. It's basically the same charge you pay for dropping it off plus a fee for transport.

I can't remember the last time I had a phone book. Seriously, how do you find one of these things? What are they called? Are they a variation of dry cleaning or do they do normal cleaning, too? Is this some New York specific thing? I have literally zero knowledge of the type of business you are describing, have never heard any of my friends or acquaintances mention the existence of such a thing, and have no idea how I'd locate one.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:34 PM on June 5


It's not unreasonable to want the "front of the house" for any business to be presentable and businesslike.

The next line in the article, after the bit about "premium people," is, "He presses play on a promotional video of a pretty brunette in a Washio T-shirt, leaning against her black Mercedes."

Maybe Washio built a better mousetrap. Or maybe it's yet another company run by young, arrogant, male entrepreneurs, and intended for the same. You know, the kind of people who don't realize that the disruption they tout isn't inherently good, and that most of us don't care if our laundry is driven around by a totally chill aspiring starlet in a Mercedes.

Look, I absolutely hate doing laundry. I live in a walk-up, I don't have machines in my building, and the closest laundromat is about a third of a mile away, across two busy avenues, uphill. Even so, I would rather sling my giant bag over my shoulder and carry it through another blizzard than give money to a passel of smug hedge-fund twats who hope to put useful local businesses out of work, and do so in favor of a company that's far more likely to go broke than it is to be sold to Facebook.

And no, I don't want a cookie.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 4:35 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


One thing that strikes me about a lot of these 'disruptive' businesses in Silicon valley is that they seem to have a total disregard for regulations and legal liability. I guess they get away with it because of small size and a friendly enforcement environment, but setting up that way when you intend to grow is just stupid. Eventually, either a lawsuit or an accident will happen either due to size or expanding into other regions, and then you've going to get destroyed in court because you're obviously and openly in violation.

I think it's part the bizarre neolibertarian tech nerd mindset, and part the idea that by the time it catches up with them, they'll have fuck you money anyways and can just lawyer or, google style, change the rules of the game so they're playing by them.

The mindset is an absolute disease. That the free market, or whatever, will show who was really wrong and enrich whoever really deserves it.

There's also of course, an element of "got mine, fuck you" here. If they screw over a bunch of people but make a few million(or even a few hundred thousand) bucks and the company implodes, they still ran XYZ startup everyone heard of that folded due to "unforeseen circumstances" and can likely parlay that in to another job making them even more money.
posted by emptythought at 4:44 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


Anonymous user on Quora says "$20/hour. But they are 1099 contractors that use their own vehicles and pay their own expenses (maintenace, fuel etc..)".

Aside from the excellent points about contractors vs. employees (and what a shitty thing that is), depending on the vehicle, running expenses will account for half of that hourly right there, off the top. If you have to pay for your own meters/parking, you're in the hole.
posted by maxwelton at 4:54 PM on June 5


Mars, Google "was and fold" or "laundry delivery". These things have been around forever. I used to use one in SF years ago.

In reality, when people in a privileged society look deep within themselves to find what is missing, a streamlined clothes-cleaning experience comes up a lot. More often than not, the people who come up with ways of lessening this burden on mankind are dudes, or duos of dudes, who have only recently experienced the crushing realization that their laundry is now their own responsibility, forever. Ha. Hahaha.

I am kind of shocked that these companies are getting millions of investment to develop apps that solve a problem that already has a solution. What is the real value-add for the customer? I mean, a cookie? Seriously?
posted by sfkiddo at 5:13 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


...bizarre neolibertarian tech nerd mindset... The mindset is an absolute disease... "got mine, fuck you" here. If they screw over a bunch of people but make a few million...

That's a pretty ungenerous view. Sure, I see some huge assholes, but I also see a lot of optimism and idealism and naivety and over-enthusiastic carpe diem and wanting to make the world a better place.
Also, the firsthand hard-learned reality that in tech, the risk of lawsuits is pretty much entirely the price of success. It absolutely doesn't matter if you follow the law or not, if you are successful, you WILL be sued. (Whether you know it or not, you can't name a single successful tech company that hasn't been sued. They've ALL been sued, and most are currently also in the process of being sued). And it doesn't matter if you don't follow the law or do, if you are not successful, you will probably not be sued (what's the point?)
The constant lawsuits of opportunism and marketplace intrigue are handled by the legal department, so while it's a constant buzzing in the background, it's also kept nearly silent and usually irrelevant to tech workers - tuned out; just the bullshit involved with getting anything done.

It's no surprise that when those workers strike out on their own, a lot of them aren't thinking sufficiently carefully or respectfully about legal considerations.
posted by anonymisc at 5:17 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Mars, here's an example although it doesn't look like they do dry cleaning.

http://www.thumbtack.com/wa/seattle/laundry/laundry-services


The magic words for google are "laundry service" and "pick up". It's looks like there's enough places that you can shop around a bit.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:19 PM on June 5


I dislike taxis as much as the next person, but I get why the taxi unions are incredibly pissed at Uber (and all the other beefs with other similar services). These "disruptive" services get to play by a different set of rules. They don't have to follow the same social contract the rest of the industry does, and that gets a lot of people (rightly, in my opinion) pretty angry.

I get why the taxi industry is angry too, but I know several people who drive for Uber and they're pretty happy about it! I don't particularly mean to defend Uber - the middleman sure gets paid a lot for what they contribute - but I'm not convinced the traditional taxi model is a better deal, either for consumers or for workers outside a fairly lucky subset. I guess in my ideal world all this app dispatch stuff would be done as a co-op of some sort. As everybody here is saying it's kind of a joke that every one of these companies still considers itself an innovator. If there isn't yet off-the-shelf software for an X-dispatch/delivery system and accompanying apps there should be. Then you just chip in your share to keep the server running and you're a real independent operator.
posted by atoxyl at 5:23 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


The Uber situation is interesting. On one hand, I wonder if drivers for such services end up looking like scabs in the eyes of traditional taxi drivers. On the other hand, wouldn't it be pretty easy for cab drivers to leave their companies to sign up as Uber drivers? What would they miss out on? What's the Marxist class analysis on this case?
posted by Apocryphon at 5:49 PM on June 5


Last I checked the only laundry delivery service that comes to this part of Chicago screwed me over.

This. If they are going to "scale" the issue of quality control will be a huge organizational challenge. Cookies not going to help when the wrong shirts are returned. But should not be an issue for smart founders if they've got good wording on their "exit" clauses.
posted by sammyo at 5:59 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I use Uber to hail traditional cabs to my house and about 80% of the time the driver will ask me if I use UberX; I guess getting ready to tell me it's a bad idea but I tell them I don't use it and they like that. They're horrified that people get into cabs with no commercial insurance and no licensing or background checks. That's not true but they seem to think it is. I've had the exact same conversation so many times.
posted by bleep at 6:00 PM on June 5


I take Uber pretty regularly in SF and a great number of drivers are ex cab or black car guys. I've had multiple conversations with drivers who are very happy to have switched.

The Washio guys (and many in tech) have douchey qualities, but it really bums me out to see MeFi mirroring the disdain from this hit piece masquerading as journalism.
posted by wemayfreeze at 6:02 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


They'll have an intrinsic problem scaling up regardless. They use part-time actors as their delivery crew - there is one place in the world where that is a viable strategy, and they're in it. Also, upscale laundry services are something you only need if people who are wealthy enough to use them can't afford enough house to have laundry equipment at home. Again, this is only something that is true where they are (and a couple of other places, but it's not very common).
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:04 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


On one hand, I wonder if drivers for such services end up looking like scabs in the eyes of traditional taxi drivers

Given that we've had a cab protest in Boston already, yes, I believe they do see it that way.
posted by maryr at 6:11 PM on June 5


This whole "only hot young people with late model cars can be hired to schlepp techbros' laundry" business: what it's really about is the decline of available work and the decline of regular wages. Even people with jobs are eager to do a little laundry delivery on the side because everyone is broke. Because everyone is on average so desperate, the techbros can require stupidly entitled things from their workers. In fifteen years, you'll have to be under thirty with a 26-inch-waist and an associate's degree just to work in the laundry itself, because after all, the rich people who own the place might want to look at the shop floor, and it would be a real drag if "premium people" weren't working the machines. And we won't be saving up to help our kids with college - we'll be saving up for the various cosmetic procedures and new cars that will enable them to qualify to take out garbage for techbros.

The comparison somewhere upthread with liveried servants is really astute - and remember how all that worked. You'd hire some hot young girl to be the maid, because who wants to have some girl you wouldn't even want to fuck dusting the china...and then if you sexually assault her and she gets pregnant, it's because she's a bad girl and you can fire her with no character reference and hire a replacement, and repeat the whole thing over again. You can have the cook sleep on the kitchen floor with the roaches and mice (this is a real thing from Victorian England, even among relatively progressive employers). You can tell your staff that they are forbidden to marry and fire them if they have admirers. That is what people do when they have a great deal of control over their workforce - it's what they did in the past, it's what they'll do again given half the chance.

The modern twist, of course, is the replacement of deference with "informality" and "fun" - they don't just want you to wipe their asses and schlepp their disgusting effluvia-stained garments, they want to you like it. Not just pretend to like it, that's not good enough - you're really supposed to be into being a laundry delivery "ninja". It makes them feel bad about themselves if they feel that they are exploiting you - so instead of, oh, stopping the exploitation, they make it a condition of labor that you not give any indication that you might even on your worst day feel exploited. You've got to love Big Laundry, as it were.
posted by Frowner at 6:14 PM on June 5 [42 favorites]


I'm not saying Uber and its ilk are unalloyed positive things. There's lots to critique.

But a lot of the criticisms above are just criticisms of contemporary capitalism. Laying the blame at the feet of people in the system for using the system as it currently functions is I think a distraction. That line of critique is akin to saying, "If we all just played by the right rules." The truly wealthy get away with crap orders of magnitude worse than this all the time. The rules need to change.

And enforcement of existing rules needs to be kept up! Regulation is maintained by the regulators! Folks like Uber aren't a problem because they skirt regulation. If the law doesn't do its job then the law might as well not exist.

Also this: And that right there is why we're still stuck in the recovery-less recovery. is hilarious. Yes, Uber and delivery laundry are what's holding us back. Not a too-weak-by-half stimulus and a government completely incapable of taxing the wealthy at a reasonable rate.
posted by wemayfreeze at 6:19 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


The more I think about this, the more I think their plans of scaling up are absurd. Their business model is linked to Silicon valley like the bike movers from Portlandia were linked to Portland. It's a hilarious joke anywhere else in the world. Consider:

A. Their only clientele is upper middle class. Middle-class and below can't afford them. Upper class already has servants doing this. So you need a place with loads of upper middle class people. So, only somewhere with high-tech industry, which counts out a lot of places.
B. Their clientele probably shouldn't own a house or a large apartment, because their service is much less appealing if you have your own laundry setup. So that counts out all the places where housing isn't so expensive that the upper-middle-class don't own a nice house or large apartment, which is virtually everywhere except Silicon Valley, San Francisco, New York, London, and a few other cities.
C. Their clientele should be unfamiliar / uncomfortable with traditional laundry delivery. People in New York and London, for example, are much more likely to be familiar and comfortable with existing services. This is mostly for the nouveau riche who don't know they exist or don't like dealing with them (i.e. with immigrants or old people).
D. They use young, attractive people with nice cars for workers. That means part-time actors, mostly. Where do you find part time actors who own nice cars and are attractive but still need a $20/hour non-career non-benefited job? Southern California. Where do you not find them? Everywhere else.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:34 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


This series of three articles on the taxi industry in the Philadelphia Weekly seems pretty good:
One - standard taxi system
Two - SideCar, Uber, and possible co-op
Three - more about the possible co-op

The second article talks to a few Uber drivers about why they prefer working with Uber over the traditional medallion system. Also includes undercover parking agents.
posted by sepviva at 6:34 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


The modern twist, of course, is the replacement of deference with "informality" and "fun" - they don't just want you to wipe their asses and schlepp their disgusting effluvia-stained garments, they want to you like it. Not just pretend to like it, that's not good enough - you're really supposed to be into being a laundry delivery "ninja". It makes them feel bad about themselves if they feel that they are exploiting you - so instead of, oh, stopping the exploitation, they make it a condition of labor that you not give any indication that you might even on your worst day feel exploited. You've got to love Big Laundry, as it were.

No offense, but that isn't even remotely a twist or modern.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:40 PM on June 5


These guys are toast as soon as I figure out how to program my 3D printer to make pants.
posted by valkane at 6:46 PM on June 5 [8 favorites]


Does it help matters if I'm actually grateful for these services? I don't use wash.io, but I do use a fluff-and-fold, AmazonFresh (& local vendors), and Uber. I am genuinely grateful they are willing to do something that I either can't or don't want to. And I'm willing to back up that gratitude with actual money.

I'm also glad they don't pay minimum wage, and have re-branded the gig as a premium service that I should pay more for. And to be honest, as a start-up, it adds legitimacy. Once Uber had legitimacy as a taxi-alternative, they were able to expand beyond town-cars. But at first, it feels alien to have a stranger you didn't even meet on the internet summoned to your house and give them your underwear. And rebranding service jobs as difficult and require a wage premium helps gain support for higher wages in all service industries, not just customer-facing.

I like that I can shop for groceries during my commute, and don't have to call three cab companies to find one willing to pick up in the Dogpatch at odd hours. That provides value to me. Safeway delivery was awful when I was in a car crash and genuinely couldn't carry home groceries. Half of my items were subbed for something I'd never buy. Likewise, cabs really have vulnerabilities in their models that makes me willing to look for an alternative. And while right now it works at my fluff-and-fold, they close before I get home, and are only open Saturday. If my boyfriend didn't pick up clothes during the week, it wouldn't work.

I am all for these businesses failing. The brick and mortar equivalents can just address their shortcomings, and I'll gladly go back to supporting those companies. They'll have happier customers, the Silicon Valley douchebags wash out? It could be a win for all.
posted by politikitty at 6:48 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


The word for this kind of business, as repeated in TFA, is "disruption." It's coming to a lot of places: laundry, cabs, lawyers. Not banks, yet.

The next big word may be disintermediation, which I think is a little misleading. The middlmen aren't going away - they are just getting replaced.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:53 PM on June 5


Yeah, for SF, the cab industry defines the term "entitled" much more than a laundry startup ever could. The sooner they die a fiery death the better. There is a special hell reserved for companies who don't change for the better, even when asked by their customers, who they tell to not-so-kindly fuck off, until someone figures out how to compete with them. That's the kind of disruption I like.
posted by rhizome at 6:55 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


so instead of, oh, stopping the exploitation, they make it a condition of labor

Frowner, I think your anger is largely misdirected. Right now, the macro-economics of the USA suggest to me that either the cook sleeps on the kitchen floor, or people cook their own food leaving the cook as just another beggar sleeping in a ditch. You're very much for blaming the employer for the evaporation of the middle-class option where the cook gets their own house, but not only is that something the current wider society and economic structure is less and less set up to be able to support, what you're actually talking about in this new economy is noblesse oblige, and we don't want the existence of the middle class to have to rest on that! These people you rail at just don't seem to me to be the people responsible for the income inequality that is really forcing this whole situation. And from what I can see, Californian and Bay Area people are some of the most progressive in the USA when it comes to voting for policies to protect the poor and reduce the gap. (That's still shit by my overseas-zeroed meter, but the USA is the country in question)

The enemy here is the new economy. It's certainly not workers who have to spend so much of the day working that it starts to make sense to them to pay someone to take care of arranging someone to do the housework, just to wring a few more minutes out of the day, and who unlike most people in that situation, are lucky enough to be earning enough to actually be able to do it.
posted by anonymisc at 6:56 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


But this past June at the New Orleans Memorial Convention Center, a handful of flinty-eyed millennials in Bonobos lurked among the suits picked off the unclaimed-garment racks.

Oh, damn. I guess Bonobos aren't my favorite jeans anymore.
posted by Monochrome at 7:06 PM on June 5


And it doesn't matter if you don't follow the law or do, if you are not successful, you will probably not be sued (what's the point?)

Folks like Uber aren't a problem because they skirt regulation. If the law doesn't do its job then the law might as well not exist.

"It's not our fault if we're doing something shitty or annoying! You didn't explicitly and specifically tell us not to do the particular thing we're doing, or you did tell us not to and we ignored you. Why don't you like us?"
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:10 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


These people you rail at just don't seem to me to be the people responsible for the income inequality that is really forcing this whole situation. And from what I can see, Californian and Bay Area people...

In the Bay Area, they are the exact people responsible for the current levels of income inequality.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:12 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


I think anger expressed in this thread is partly a reaction to the glorification of Silicon Valley in the media, and the New York magazine article was certainly working that backlash. I did feel a little sorry for the guys being profiled, who had no idea they were walking into a hit piece. But I'm sure they will be ok.

For the last couple of years the press has glorified these young tech gods, but all we see are games and ephemra and disruptions of industries with little added value, while the most visible of these young tech gods appear incredibly arrogant and tone-deaf.

I'm sure we could argue about the value added by these startups, but it reminds me of what Paul Volcker said about the only real innovation in finance in the last 30 years being ATMs.

I have been wondering recently why it seemed like nothing that really needed disrupting was being disrupted, or being disrupted in a way that seems truly useful.
posted by maggiemaggie at 7:21 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


In the Bay Area, they are the exact people responsible for the current levels of income inequality.

I struggle to imagine what you mean. Can you elaborate? Are you suggesting that tech workers overwhelmingly vote for regressive taxes? Or that inequality is always reduced by nuking one end of any bell curve? (True yet trite)

Successful ways of reducing income inequality and promoting opportunity are well-known and supported by evidence. It requires strong social and economic policy (of a sort that the US seems culturally loath to embrace). How are laborers and start-ups the exact people responsible for this nation-wide policy failure?
posted by anonymisc at 7:23 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


People keep talking shit about how this is just to make 20 something techies lives easier. Nope sorry. It's to make the 30 something sales people (and project managers) lives easier.

Seriously I've been in this industry for a long time. Techies generally do make good money, but they don't tend to spend it on this kind of stuff. (Oh they spend it, and they spend it on stupid shit, just not on this.) The people who really pay for this kind of stuff are the people working in sales for tech companies.
posted by aspo at 7:29 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


The game plan here is that Uber is red hot right now, Uber has publicly hinted at the direction they are going (changing their tagline recently from "Everyone's private driver" to "Where lifestyle meets logistics") and their valuation is such that they buy a dozen A & B round startups companies without really even feeling it, (and hell a few domain-specific bolt-ons like laundry or errands might even make sense).

Washio has raised about $3.6M, if they can convince Uber to buy them for, say, $40M in mostly stock, that's a great return in pre-IPO Uber stock that Washio's investors would love to hold and then immediate cash-out post IPO. Somewhere in a Washio investor deck, there's a slide that says "likely strategic acquirers" and in the center, circled in red is UBER. It's not polite to say it, but Washio and others are being set up as juicy bait for Uber to buy. It's like buying land next to a future highway.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:33 PM on June 5 [9 favorites]


Successful ways of reducing income inequality and promoting opportunity are well-known and supported by evidence.

anonymisc, can you point me to some reading on this? I am asking sincerely. I think about this question a lot and am clueless. I would love to know what specific effective policies and strategies I can support.
posted by kristi at 7:49 PM on June 5


I wouldn't know what a good place to start is - I'm just an observer. I could point to stuff like an OECD metastudy of policy vs opportunity, but actual papers aren't fun.
For something more fun and roaming, though not unifying or politically neutral, I'd suggest Paul Krugman's newspaper columns and/or blog.
Krugman is nobel-prize winning economist who is kind of a Cassandra - power doesn't want to listen to him, and his predictions keep coming true nonetheless. (Then everyone is all "How could we have possibly predicted that?!"). He keeps up a steady drumbeat of certain themes where he thinks the zeitgeist most needs to change, which can get old.
posted by anonymisc at 8:28 PM on June 5


Oh, and thinking on the problem of inequality has recently been shaken up with the publishing of Capital in the Twenty First Century. (Krugman's review). (So I don't really mean to suggest that income inequality is some solved problem, but we know a lot of stuff that works.)
Plus a ton of stuff here on the blue.
posted by anonymisc at 8:36 PM on June 5


How are laborers and start-ups the exact people responsible for this nation-wide policy failure?

I wasn't considering national policy so much as the local economy. It's no secret that the well-paid tech community has driven up rental and retail prices throughout the Bay Area, and in San Francisco in particular, making life increasingly difficult for the local, non-tech population.

There's a reason that people are mobbing the Google bus. San Francisco's Human Services Agency recently released a report stating that the city's income inequality level is now on par with that of Rwanda or Guatemala.

And yet there's no shortage of young, tone-deaf, arrogant, upper-middle-class dudes who worked at hedge funds, all bragging about disruption and meritocracy and "premium people," and how their iPhone laundry startup is all about FUN, as they're bathed in millions of VC dollars (or billions from Facebook, as the case may be).

Are the disruptive tech dudes of the world on par with the Koch brothers? No.

Are they part of the problem, when their "disruption" involves things like fighting carefully crafted regulations or existing contracts, or employing people as independent contractors rather than full-time employees, or hiring only "premium people" who somehow drive a Mercedes even though they're looking for work as a delivery person? Well, yes. Yes they are.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:37 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


That's a pretty ungenerous view. Sure, I see some huge assholes, but I also see a lot of optimism and idealism and naivety and over-enthusiastic carpe diem and wanting to make the world a better place.

The intersection of hubris, smugness, and naiveté is assholism. There isn't really a way around it.

Are the disruptive tech dudes of the world on par with the Koch brothers? No.

It doesn't matter if they literally are in practice, they think they're on that world-shaping level, and that douche-i-tude makes them dangerous and facepalm inducing in completely different ways.
posted by emptythought at 8:40 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Are you thinking of any tech douches in particular, or just some caricatures dancing in your head?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:04 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I think that's a really self-defeating view of income inequality - it requires the idea that the problem is this influx of wealth. Well, sure, but when you don't have a ton of other sectors all generating lots of wealth, then the "fix" becomes the Detroit route, which is even worse.

An influx of wealth into our society is a problem we want to have. We don't want to reduce inequality by making society's pie smaller (ban the tech industry while other industries are in decline), we want all that pie to keep on coming, but we want it more evenly distributed throughout society.

The people working in the sector where the wealth is coming in are not people who somehow made it such that wealth would overwhelmingly enter their society from just that sector and not others.
Nor are they the people most responsible for their society's reluctance to address income inequality in systematic and powerful ways.
Nor does their tone-deafness shift responsibility for those things onto their shoulders. It just makes them easier to cast as Other.

They are your scapegoats for the failures of wider society. Almost all of them are labor, like you. Many (most?) of them stand with labor and society. Treat them as your enemy (instead of tackling your common enemy) and Divided You Fall.
posted by anonymisc at 9:07 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


San Francisco's Human Services Agency recently released a report stating that the city's income inequality level is now on par with that of Rwanda or Guatemala.

San Francisco is bad but (and this is a serious but) that's a disingenuous report.

San Francisco has a HUGE homeless and close to homeless population because the city actually has programs and support, unlike most parts of the country. (Also a much better climate.) Places all over have got caught buying their homeless population one way bus tickets to San Francisco.

Also cities tend to have much worse gini coefficients than a country as a whole. Comparing the two is not reasonable.

So yes it sucks, but claiming San Francisco is Rwanda is bullshit.
posted by aspo at 9:20 PM on June 5


For example, many other citites in America have have higher gini coefficients (yes that's from 2011)
posted by aspo at 9:23 PM on June 5


Are you thinking of any tech douches in particular, or just some caricatures dancing in your head?
Travis Kalanick is probably the worst of the bunch. It doesn't help that the bros in the article appear to pray at Uber's altar. But, hey, if Kalanick a figment of my imagination, that's great news. Maybe I invented that twerp Evan Spiegel, too?

ban the tech industry while other industries are in decline
I never suggested banning the tech industry. I merely mean to suggest that the tech industry could be a lot less tone deaf, and that I don't see any of its current disruptions as anything in the way of an improvement, particularly with regard to things like labor practices—especially when services like Airbnb and Lyft are basically just creating cottage industries by another name. But, hey, car moustaches! Fun!

The tech sector isn't responsible for solving all of society's problems. It may, however, be saddled with addressing the difficulties that it has, itself, created, rather than putting it off on the system or whatever.

And no, not all of the tech industry stands with labor, particularly when it comes to people who harp on disruption.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:27 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


"Starting a business" and "entrepreneurship" don't reference any actually real thing; they're signifiers of an ideology.

This indeed becomes abundantly clear if you spend a few weeks working for these idiots. Being a tech 'entrepreneur' and watching TED talks applies a socially acceptable ideological veneer over spending all your time thinking 'how can I make money out of stuff?'
posted by colie at 10:44 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Sorry but anyone who uses the phrase "premium people" non-ironically needs to have their paradigm disrupted, like with a laundry bag full of doorknobs or something
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:17 PM on June 5 [19 favorites]


rq: “Associating this guy with "greatest-minds-of-my-generation" is probably a stretch.”
I disagree. I mean isn't this at least in part a story about three graduates from relatively prestigious state colleges, one of whom later enrolled in an MIT MBA program, in competition with Dartmouth and Stanford graduates in the glamorous world of Silicon Beach? Admittedly in the laundry delivery business, but still.

I think the operative part of the famous quote from "Howl" in this case is "destroyed by madness." It is madness. I mean for the love of Christ they're bringing in Ph.D.s to do route optimization but none of these geniuses realize that you can't build an economy based on taking in each other's laundry? Especially when the actual washing gets done by people not invited into the either the parties or the economy.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:27 PM on June 5 [5 favorites]


I can't help but think that our current era is engaged in a culture-wide effort to provide the future with as many "WTF were they thinking?" laughs as possible.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:39 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I can actually see how an app could "add value" in terms of improving communications between laundromat owners and their customers. I have two babies and no washer/dryer in my building, and both my husband and I work business casual jobs. That's a ton if laundry, and delivery service would make sense if there were an easy way to specify "spit up clothes on this pile, mashed-up blueberries over here, and this type of detergent for this baby's clothes." I'm sure my laundromat would prefer an app that makes things things clear as well.

There's a lot if glamorizing of low wage jobs in this thread. I guess as an immigrant, I'd rather see the English-speaking sons and daughters of my laundromat's owners focused on school, being kids, and learning how to navigate American culture rather than working in the family business because someone needs to talk to the customers. And quite frankly, I'd prefer that the driving get done by licensed drivers than uninsured undocumented immigrants, because often time that happens not because the driver can't find another job, but because the family can't figure out how to manage an employee. Laundry really is needlessly decentralized, and there are benefits to, for instance, doing all the dry cleaning on one place with proper environmental controls rather than hundreds of small places which are impossible to police in terms of the handling of toxic chemicals.

As for Uber -- their CEO is a dick. But in most of the country, cab service is expensive, unreliable, and often incompetent, and the regulations are largely about protecting the existing medallion owners (hint: very rarely drivers). I use it exclusively when I need to get my kids somewhere, because the idea of not using a carseat in a NYC taxi is terrifying. Just because they're assholes doesn't mean they don't have a point.
posted by snickerdoodle at 5:49 AM on June 6 [7 favorites]


I don't know if the guys profiled in this are racist, or if they're necessarily assholes even, since the piece definitely seemed like a way for New York Magazine to grind an axe using an easy target. So I wouldn't be at all surprised by them being racist assholes, but NYM's journalistic standards don't compel me to take it as the unvarnished truth.

Regardless, their business model is ridiculous. They're in an already crowded market, dividing up a business that already exists sans app, with limited possibilities for growth. You need metro areas that are wealthy enough to support $50 dollars a week for doing laundry, that are also population dense enough where doing laundry yourself is so much an inconvenience that it justifies the ridiculous price tag. Put another way, this is a service that if it's not for the 1% it's for the like... 10%. That seems to have a pretty hard ceiling on it. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think whoever said that these guys are fishing for the Uber buy-out is absolutely correct.

This is a business that, by design, adds no value to society.

They're not doing anything new: laundry delivery services have existed for years.

They're not really creating jobs: they're giving people contract work without benefits for what's probably well under a living wage for the expensive metro areas that are the only market for this kind of service.

They're doing no labor themselves: they made a pretty simple match-making and storefront app and then connected that to a network of contractors who do all of the real work.

Their business model isn't novel: they looked at Uber's rent-seeking, said "I want a piece of that so I can buy an iPhone!" and then followed along like sheep.

They're not really even in the technology industry: they made a simple app to do something that already existed and co-opted a "contractor" model from Uber.

It's basically a bunch of managers at Washio exchanging money with a bunch of managers at the laundry services so that other people like the Washio dudes can have a marginally more convenient way to do a common household chore, all on the backs of the underpaid real labor.

The fact that this exists, much less that six or seven nearly identical services exist and are fighting for market share, screams "BUBBLE" in 72 point, red, bold, blinking font to me. I hope that it doesn't take the rest of us down with us when it pops.
posted by codacorolla at 5:52 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


LAUNDRY PIMPS
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:56 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


"Actually they are. Young white men 'starting a business' is most of what's wrong with the world."

I'm sorry but what the hell does that racist comment mean?
posted by I-baLL at 6:16 AM on June 6


I present to you OOB.er. I'm disrupting the disruption of industries by Uber copy-cats. It's a new era. My service is an app (in development) which connects laborers with customers, thereby eliminating the rent seeking middleman techies. Imagine. you want to do work, and someone wants work done. How do these two things connect?

You're the customer: pull up the industry or service you'd like assistance with from our directory. Select a service provider by perusing reviews. Call them using our built-in dialer. Arrange a service with that service provider. Easy.

You're the service provider: place a listing in our directory. Wait for the customers to come pouring in.

Magic. All with our sleek, luxurious design, decked out in decadent shades of gold and yellow.

OOB.er: welcome to the future.
posted by codacorolla at 6:20 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


colie - Washer dryer is totally standard in every London rental and there are no laundry services in any UK city (apart from the wealthy expat community US in St John's Wood).

Brits are too polite/repressed to have a stranger handling their underwear.


Not sure if that is meant as some kind of ironic statement or something, but it really isn't the case. There are two laundries within 5 minutes walk of my house, one will wash, dry, iron and fold your clothes. I imagine she would probably pick them up from the local area as well if you asked her. In fact, I think she offered to drop off on her way home last time I visited. Her business is not focused on that, but I will ask her if she has considered it next time I am in, however I don't go very often as I only use the service for things that are too big to fit in my washer at home.

One of the simple pleasures of life is having clothes dried outside on the line. They smell fresher and last longer. The smell is due to a number of factors, including UV interaction with the clothes and the detergent (however some people dry their clothes outside but out of the sun, so that can't be the case for them) and the geosmin smell that we associate with freshness (also a big contributor to petrichor) which is borne on the breeze (if you are near the sea they will smell like the ocean). Clothes dried outside smell best if there is some kind of breeze and they are not in direct sunlight. Clothes last longer if they are dried outside as the dryer damages the fabric.

Now, I know that line drying clothes is not an option for many people as it is banned in many places, so I don't expect this is going to work for everyone. This is one of the reasons that I find inner city living a bit of a challenge. I wear clothes quite a lot of the time, generally when I am not wearing clothes I am using fabric for some other purpose (bed sheets or towels) so the freshness of the fabric really makes a difference to my quality of life. I notice it when I am away from home long enough to have to use laundry services. Alright for a holiday, but I wouldn't want to live there.

So that said, I am not really the target market for this service. This does, however, sound like a solution to a problem that only effects a small market. The locations where the population is dense enough to need pick-up laundry services already have them. Just go into a local laundry and ask them, if they don't do it they will probably be able to tell you who does. I am guessing that the washio business model is aimed at people that who for some reason cannot do that, I just don't think that it will scale particularly well. On preview, what codocorolla said.

I can actually see how an app could "add value" in terms of improving communications between laundromat owners and their customers.

I kind of agree, but I also think White Pages/Yellow Pages or Google plus telephone covers that. I mean, as people upthread have pointed out, the task of laundry isn't just limited to the washing drying and folding. If I have to be in to have the clothes collected by a 'ninja' and be in to have them delivered (how does that work in large gated housing blocks?) then the only value they are adding is the good looking 'ninja'.
posted by asok at 6:28 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


“The laundry and dry-­cleaning industry, it’s all, like, old people,” says Dulanto in the nose-wrinkling manner of someone for whom aging is still an abstract concept.

Now I know who to call when I spill Soylent on my shirt.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:05 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


in most of the country, cab service is expensive, unreliable, and often incompetent,

And then there's markets like NYC where we already have two different kinds of for-hail cabs, and countless livery services, and where some of Uber's innovations included stuff like trying to break the city's existing, vetted contract with credit card processors because it was inconvenient for the startup.

Almost all dry cleaners already use a plant. The laundromats near where I live don't have English-speaking kids strapped into service, and their delivery service is performed by licensed drivers, even if it doesn't happen in a late-model car, and the guy who shows up is, god forbid, middle aged.

I guess what I'm getting at is that while I'm fine with doing things via app, I don't see services like Washio and Uber as revolutionary. Unless, well, I guess the latter has found innovative ways to ignore city councils, and the former has found an innovative way to make the people who are actually doing people's laundry even more invisible.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:57 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


The Nymag article is satire, right?
posted by monotreme at 9:44 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I guess as an immigrant, I'd rather see the English-speaking sons and daughters of my laundromat's owners focused on school, being kids, and learning how to navigate American culture rather than working in the family business because someone needs to talk to the customers.

So would the (hypothetical) laundromat's owners! But the point is, most people who would rather be doing something better are nonetheless stuck in low-wage, low-mobility jobs that increasingly take up not just their time but also their psychological space, demanding them to be cheerful ninja independent contractors who buy their own health insurance and whatnot, if they can. This is more or less true all the way up the food chain, but where it's most brutal is at the bottom.
posted by tapir-whorf at 10:09 AM on June 6 [3 favorites]


Let me be more precise. I live in nyc, and there is only one wash and fold that allows me to use my own detergent within walking distance. Every time I ask for something complicated, the parents yell for their kid to come translate. Maybe he likes it, but maybe he'd rather be doing extracurriculars. Maybe he's rather do his homework at home instead of in the middle of a laundromat. He's not even working all the time, but he has to be on call in case someone asks a question.

Certainly I would have preferred hanging out with friends or working an actual paying job rather than work my parents' nail salon (and as a family, we would have come out financially ahead.) It wasn't that I didn't have other low-skill options. It was more that my parents didn't trust non family to work the register, and they didn't speak English so it had to be me. If there had been some sort of ordering app that could have replaced me, I'd have signed up for it in a second.
posted by snickerdoodle at 10:36 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Young white men 'starting a business' is most of what's wrong with the world."

I'm sorry but what the hell does that racist comment mean?


OK scratch the white bit. MBA guys setting up businesses in order to further exploit people and resources (and there is no other reason) is a bad thing. Business is a bad thing. Especially this kind of stuff. Another world is possible. Hardly a radical thing to state.
posted by colie at 10:58 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


The criticism that these companies have a bad business model is kinda the point.

I don't see Silicon Valley as being the harbinger of the future economy, with techbros controlling everything. I see Silicon Valley as the NASA of private industry. It mostly exists to go to space for nationalistic pride and comes up with a lot of breakthroughs like teflon, and memory foam and scratch resistant lenses. And other businesses benefit from these tweaks.

So yeah, there will be a market correction. And a lot of super rich VC folks won't see a return on their investment. But the 2001 tech bubble was pretty well contained to the folks who had excess capital to invest and lose.
posted by politikitty at 10:59 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


There are two laundries within 5 minutes walk of my house

In London you get launderettes which are coin-operated but also have a woman on the premises who will do 'service washes'. I've never heard of them collecting or delivering the stuff though. 'Laundry service' is a whole step up in class/status terms from this and I've never met anyone who used one.
posted by colie at 11:03 AM on June 6


When did "disruption" become a thing? If you're white collar and you're disruptive, you get venture capital. If you're blue collar and you're disruptive, you get a weekend in the drunk tank.
posted by jonp72 at 1:39 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Sorry but anyone who uses the phrase "premium people" non-ironically needs to have their paradigm disrupted, like with a laundry bag full of doorknobs or something

It reminds me of this thread, thinking about it.

Mainly that it seems like the type of job you'd never get a callback on unless you included a nice, high res photo with your resume that looked like it was shot by a professional photographer, while wearing a very stylish outfit and looking super peppy or sexy.

ugh. to a mirror a comment from that thread, i hate this linkedin culture where that's kind of the expected norm. Doubly so when it's a job that's essentially unskilled labor like this.
posted by emptythought at 2:15 PM on June 6 [1 favorite]


When did "disruption" become a thing?

Oh god, that one has been around since the nineties. It's code for "we have no chance of competing in the current market so we're going to try to make a new one."

Sometimes it even works. Amazon sure disrupted the hell out of book and music stores.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:34 PM on June 6


Now that conversation has calmed down a bit, I can finally note that we don't have a "New Orleans Memorial Convention Center," as mentioned in the piece. We have a New Orleans Morial Convention Center, named after the former of the father and son Mayor Morials.

I couldn't help myself.
posted by Corinth at 5:19 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Eh, laundry delivery, NBD.

Bunch of idiots being showered with cash because they found a new way to wedge themselves into making money by exploiting people so desperate for jobs they'll take one with no security and no legal protections? This picture from the Trump thread seems appropriate.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:48 PM on June 6


MBA guys setting up businesses in order to further exploit people and resources (and there is no other reason) is a bad thing.

I don't think I totally agree with the parenthetical but it's crappy no matter who's doing it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:36 AM on June 7


If you could guarantee to be the same ninja picking up and dropping enough "regulars" you could slip an item in and out a week out of the "regularses" loads and do your own laundry for free.

I remember when all these services ideas were coming over from Silicon Valley to the east coast. First we had drycleaning drop off and pick up. Was okay but only once a week in one building on the other side of campus.

Then we contracted something to a vaguely-named errands company, so I called to see if they could grab something and run it to the post office for me. The first thing they asked me was if I were disabled or something and couldn't physically get to the post office. Apparently that wasn't that kind of errand service we'd contracted ... not really sure what kind of errands they were supposed to be for.
posted by tilde at 12:20 PM on June 9


Washio just raised $10.5 million in a large series A round from institutional and celebrity investors. LOL
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:46 PM on June 9


Even better: washboard.co. Sell $10 of quarters for $15 on a subscription plan.
posted by aramaic at 7:52 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Sell $10 of quarters for $15 on a subscription plan.

Please tell me that's a joke, right? Or some sort of really clever phishing scam, to compile a list of morons with more money than sense? Or some sort of Al Qaeda recruitment propaganda about the decadent West? Anything really, other than an actual thing that exists.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:33 AM on June 20


Washboard: For when you absolutely don't want to leave the house or interact with anyone for months, even to get some quarters from a bank. There's an app for that!
posted by naju at 10:38 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]


Washboard's idea is almost attractive to me. The banks close before I leave work, and I'm not the best at mornings, so getting going to the bank is always kind of a hassle for me.

But my solution is to just get a ton of quarters at once and then I only have to deal with it a few times a year. Because yes, charging a markup on money is pretty insulting.
posted by aubilenon at 12:13 PM on June 20


I guess it's not necessarily a thing everywhere, but I have never not been able to get a roll of quarters at a decent-sized grocery store.
posted by rhizome at 11:57 PM on June 20


Yea what? If the hugebox chain grocery with like 40 self checkout lanes near my place won't give me one(which has only happened once), I just walk to the little bodega a couple blocks away where they're typically rude, but will still do it.

I can't imagine a place where you'd have coin op laundry, but wouldn't be within a short walk of some sort of place which could sell you a roll of quarters. Even if it was a "no change without purchase" minimart, in which case you just get like... A 22oz of beer or a Gatorade or something.
posted by emptythought at 2:13 AM on June 21


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