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Imagining five retro technologies as startup pitches


Silicon Valley is a bubble. Go into any SoMa coffee shop and you’ll hear founders and investors alike singing the praises of Hyperloop and flying cars — sci-fi tropes reincarnated by billionaires with a god complex. This isn’t to say these technologies shouldn’t be pursued, but sometimes it’s healthy to remember that we are effectively pulling a Facebook Stories on H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

We here at TechCrunch are no strangers to big ideas that are inspiring on paper but don’t quite work in the real world. Take Google Glass — the headline “Project Glass Is The Future Of Google” once graced our home page. It happened then and it will happen again because moonshots are way more fun than subscription box and infrastructure monitoring startups — they also make it easy to claim superiority in a world that gives bonus points to the person willing to address the biggest problem.

Points in the game of moonshots shouldn’t go to the one with the idea. Rather, they should go to the one who can work out the details. Where do autonomous delivery drones land? How do you build underground tunnels without disrupting existing infrastructure? Or if you’re a 1930s VC penning a thought piece for TechCrunch about how Zeppelins are the future of travel — addressing safety and practicality.

But gosh is it fun to suspend disbelief. Billionaires shouldn’t be the only ones with that right. Here’s five satirical examples of retro technologies reimagined as moonshot startup pitches and the stories of how some people are still trying to make them work today.


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