Fury at 'Bodega' tech startup that aims to put corner shops out of business

The Guardian 

A tech startup called Bodega that hopes to replace mom-and-pop shops with unmanned boxes that rely on an app and artificial intelligence is facing a massive backlash from immigrant business owners and skeptics across Silicon Valley. The company, founded by two former Google employees and launched on Wednesday, is marketing five-foot-wide pantries that users can unlock with their smartphones to pick up non-perishable items. There are no humans at the "stores" – which are already stationed in spots like apartment buildings, offices and gyms – and a computer program automatically charges customers' credit cards, according to Fast Company, which first reported on the startup. Although the boxes appear to be little more than glorified vending machines, the company's executives have been widely mocked, and criticized for explicitly stating that their mission is to displace neighborhood corner stores and put family-owned shops out of business. "The vision here is much bigger than the box itself," co-founder Paul McDonald, a former Google product manager, told Fast Company.