Silicon Valley Wants You to Cash In Your 401(k) to Buy “Raw Water”

The hip, expensive way to drink untreated H20.

Natural water in a glassArtTim/iStock

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Silicon Valley has an apparently relentless appetite for disrupting the way we eat. Now, it’s coming after your tap water. Behold Source: a Hydropanel, a home system sold by a company called Zero Mass Water that uses condensation to trap water from the air and deliver it to your drinking glass. “Just take a breath of air,” the company’s CEO, Cody Friesen, told The New York Times’ Nellie Bowles. “No matter how wealthy or poor you are, you can take a breath and own that air that you breathe. And yet water—the government brings it to you.”

Hear Nellie Bowles talk more about the raw water trend on the latest episode of Bite podcast. The segment starts at 1:40 in the episode below:

Unlike your lungs, which process your air for free, a Source rig goes for $4,500, installation included. Yet the concept of high-dollar, privatized water procurement apparently scratches Bay Area tech culture’s libertarian itch—Zero Mass Water has drawn $24 million in venture capital, Bowles reports. 

And it’s not the only tap-water-disruption scheme brewing in the Valley. Remember Juicero, the VC darling that peddled pricey subscription bags of pre-chopped produce and a $400 contraption to crush them into juice? After it crashed and burned last year, its founder, Doug Evans, “went on a 10-day cleanse,” drinking nothing but untreated spring water, Bowles writes. 

Since then, Evans has been skulking Northern California on the hunt for springs from which to slake his thirst. “I’m extreme about health, I know, but I’m not alone with this,” Evans told Bowles. “There are a lot of people doing this with me. You never know who you’ll run into at the spring.”

Who knows what the Juicero guy will do with this insight. But it’s fun to think of him teaming up in Silicon Valley pitch meetings with Mukhande Singh (born Christopher Sanborn). Singh is the entrepreneur behind Live Water, which for $36.99, and $14.99 per refill, sells 2.5 gallon glass containers of “raw water”—”unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water.” Here’s Business Insider’s Kate Taylor on what could possibly go wrong with that equation.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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