Google co-founder Larry Page popularized the term ‘moonshots.’ But project capitalists, seemingly, are looking to the celebs.
An app called Co-Star, which provides slick digital variations of horoscopes and astrological birth charts, has raised $5 million in funding. An investor who put money into an ‘Uber for astrological readings’ organization expresses excitement approximately the $2.1 billion market for ‘mystical services.’ Erin Griffith, the writer of a recent New York Times function at the challenge, took a lighthearted attitude toward the situation even as nonetheless acknowledging that there without a doubt is commercial enterprise potential. Millennial girls, she writes, have ‘traded [astrology’s] psychedelic new-wave stigma for present-day Instagrammy witch vibes.’
This may additionally appear like a ludicrous place for project greenbacks to head. But here’s my reaction: Please, permit VCs hold investing in astrology! Have you visible what else they placed their money into?
Electric scooter groups, which have turned a stroll down Venice Boulevard in Los Angeles into a terrifying real-lifestyles recreation of Frogger, have raised loads of millions of bucks in funding. Sure, it may make a ride a bit shorter. But there are continuously far too many businesses in the space, many are probably quite hyped up, they’re making roads less safe, and in the meantime American towns’ woeful loss of public transportation (that can clear up a great deal of the hassle that scooters do) is going unaddressed.
I paintings in the advertising and marketing industry. I couldn’t even give you an estimate for how much undertaking funding has long past into ad-tech and social media agencies that collect creepy degrees of private facts and that turns into prone to horrific actors and manipulation because of shoddy privacy practices. The equal goes for the groups that are being used to enact mass surveillance. If an investor is selecting among an app in order to inform me how my Cancer moon signal will have an effect on my temper these days, or one in an effort to ship a drone to undercover agent on me, I’ll take the gimmicky Astro stuff.
Let us now not forget about that Theranos, thanks to the charisma of CEO Elizabeth Holmes – once hailed as, possibly, the subsequent Steve Jobs – raised over $four hundred million for a medical tool corporation that scientists had disregarded early on as not likely to ever work. Investors didn’t listen. And, because the e book Bad Blood and a recent HBO documentary defined, Theranos’s malfunctioning tests could produce outcomes that could compel sufferers to make very inaccurate scientific choices. Lives were at stake.
This is, of direction, a relatively tongue-in-cheek argument. Investors trying to returned surveillance or medical technology are not going to direct the identical finances towards an astrology app. But the point still stands: As a good deal as Silicon Valley likes to think it’s at the top of technological know-how-based totally empiricism and slick ‘disruptive’ commercial enterprise fashions, it’s susceptible to simply as a whole lot irrationality and magical wondering as your friend who consults a psychic before task interviews. Psychology professor Clay Routledge, who I interviewed for a Vox article final year about the tension among Silicon Valley’s dislike of organized faith with its very own fervent religiosity, has written substantially approximately humans’ inevitable irrational facets, and our need to acknowledge them. ‘The irony is that loads of times it’s people who without a doubt are religious explicitly, and realize that, which can be better at switching among the two modes,’ Routledge informed me on the time.
There’s lots of irrationality in tech investing: Y Combinator founder Paul Graham famously stated, ‘I can be tricked by means of every person who looks like Mark Zuckerberg.’ He has due to the fact that stated he changed into joking. But it’s nevertheless a telling announcement about what buyers suppose constitutes a recipe for achievement within the startup international. And often, those leaps of faith have an ugly aspect: playing into bias, blind spots, and even outright lack of know-how of big quantities of the market. Sometimes, technology that is constructed with one audience in mind may also become dangerous for another; ride-hailing apps, for instance, to begin with had few of the provisions for people with disabilities that have been mandated via the municipal taxi agencies whose enterprise they have been displacing.
Frankly, the most unexpected thing approximately traders’ sudden interest in backing astrology apps is that they don’t feed into Silicon Valley’s mythology, if only because the consumer base is overwhelmingly girl. Often the founders are, too. Besides, at least for now (as it could well be a fad), astrology seems to have actual commercial enterprise capacity. If that’s irrational, well, I’ll take it. I’m an Aquarius rising, in the end.