The year 2017 giveth and the year 2017 taketh away. And for those who like seeing bros get their due, the last 24 hours have giveth, and giveth, and giveth.
For bros, it taketh. Bros from the halls of Congress to the Valley of Silicon suffered defeats. It was the worst day for bros in quite some time.
Yesterday’s first bro down was Martin Shkreli. Shkreli is most famous for being the pharmaceutical CEO behind raising the price of Daraprim, a drug that saves patients from a parasitic infection, by 5,000 percent. But identifying him as simply a greedy “Pharma Bro” does Shkreli a disservice. He’s more or a douche-of-many-hats. Before he gouged his way into our hearts, he was a hedge fund founder. Months after jacking up the price of the drug, Shkreli purchased the only copy of Wu-Tang Clan’s Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, and vowed during the 2016 campaign that he would publicly release the album if Trump won and destroy it if Hillary won. Hard to say if this had any impact on the election’s outcome, but then again, it’s entirely possible that there’s an enormous, invisible Wu-Tang Clan fan base in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Shkreli also dabbled in securities fraud and online harassment, frequently targeting Teen Vogue writer Lauren Duca, which eventually got him suspended from Twitter. Perhaps most odious of all, Shkreli was a vlogger, often livestreaming himself playing video games or hanging out alone in his apartment. Last month, he was convicted of securities fraud and was awaiting sentencing as he was out on bail, free for the time being.
Free until yesterday, that is, when a judge revoked his bail because Shkreli had offered a $5,000 bounty for a piece of Hillary Clinton’s hair, if only one of his fans—which, I guess, he has—could pluck it from her head during her book tour. A very specific request, but also one that caused a judge to throw Shkreli in jail, where he tragically cannot vlog.
The only downside of this story is that Shkreli couldn’t wait until September 20 to get himself tossed in jail. That would have been the two year anniversary of Daraprim’s price jump.
Silicon Valley has never met an existing product they won’t reinvent and claim; somewhere, a room full of 24-year-old dudes named Chase are probably drawing up plans for a potassium rich oblong yellow fruit you can open with an app. Bodega was no different. The startup, founded by two Google alumni, aimed to make real-life mom & pop bodegas obsolete by placing unmanned kiosks containing frequently-purchased convenience items in apartments and gyms and other places with heavy foot traffic. Users could download an app to purchase the items without even having to go into a store. They explained to Fast Company that what they were doing was fine; they’d talked to focus groups. Some of the groups even contained Latinos.
The backlash against the dumb startup and it’s dumber founders was so intense that before the end of the day, the pair felt compelled to apologize. Perhaps they had talked to the wrong Latinos. Perhaps they didn’t understand how beloved the corner store is to vast swaths of the population. Perhaps some things don’t need to be disrupted. Perhaps disruption is usually an annoyance.
Meanwhile, it was also a bad day for the first bro Speaker of the House in American history, Paul Ryan. Once touted as a policy wonk, Ryan has found himself one of the main chumps of the Trump era. As President Trump gallivants with Democratic leaders like they’re the Marla Maples to Republicans’ Ivana, Ryan has to play cleanup, make excuses, make sense of the whole thing. Yesterday, the president met with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer over Chinese food, and came to what Democrats claim is the framework for an agreement to continue DACA. Ryan says no such agreement exists; the three were just talking, not “negotiating.” But it’s hard to take his word for it when Schumer and Pelosi are the ones who got fortune cookies last night.
Generally speaking, things aren’t great. And generally speaking, taking joy in others’ misfortune is an ugly feeling. But in these hamster-on-adderall times, we must take wins where we find them and cherish them like a bro cherishes the poster of his favorite sports stadium, the one that hangs over his bedroom dresser. The last 24 hours were kind of funny, if bro failure is funny. Who knows what joys or horrors the next 24 will bring.