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The same guy who built the Amazon Echo just built the $700 magic juicer

Malachy Moynihan's interests in farming and Internet-connected devices led him to the startup Juicero.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Malachy Moynihan already has one surprise consumer electronics hit under his belt. For the last 18 months, he has quietly been working on what he thinks can be No. 2.

Moynihan, a Silicon Valley veteran with long stints at Apple and Cisco, oversaw the hardware and firmware teams that developed the Echo voice-controlled speaker at Amazon. He left a couple of months before it launched in 2014, not knowing how well it would ultimately be received.

Since then, he’s been stealthily working on a new device, a $700 juicer called Juicero, that launched publicly to both fanfare and sharp criticism earlier this month. The juicer requires absolutely zero cleanup, but people have to pay $4 to $10 for one packet of produce to make each eight-ounce glass of cold-pressed juice.

Moynihan joined the company as chief product officer when the product was just a prototype, with his teams managing to turn a device that originally had a touchscreen and multiple buttons and dials into the one-button juicer the startup is selling today.

“I think the biggest contribution from me was building the team up and really refining [the juicer] to feel confident it was manufacturable, it was safe, and that there was a replicable model for making them,” said Moynihan.

Juicero Chief Product Officer Malachy Moynihan
Juicero Chief Product Officer Malachy Moynihan

The Juicero story connected with Moynihan on multiple levels when in 2014 he met CEO Doug Evans, who previously ran Organic Avenue, a New York chain that sold cold-pressed juices as well as organic and vegan foods. Growing up, Moynihan’s family had a farm in Ireland, and he still owns farmland there to this day. Much of Juicero’s produce is purchased directly from California farms.

Moynihan also has a strong interest in Internet-connected devices, but wasn’t blown away by a lot of the products coming to market in the space that weren’t named Amazon Echo.

“There were connected lightbulbs and connected switches and connected sockets and nothing felt to me like it was a complete story,” Moynihan told Re/code in an interview.

He obviously thinks the Juicero can be that. The device is Internet-connected, which allows it to determine whether a bag of vegetables is still fresh after scanning a code on it. The software connection also instructs the device how fast and hard to press produce, based on the makeup of the specific fruit and vegetables in a given pouch. That means that when new produce packets are made available, software updates can be sent to the device to adjust the speed, force and length of the pressing for the new recipe.

Still, the Juicero will face a lot of hurdles, from convincing people that the price of the juicer and packets are worth it, to making the delivery logistics work.

So why leave a role with the Echo right before launch? Moynihan said he’s happy with the Echo’s early success, but said he got the startup bug and felt he had accomplished more in two years at Amazon — where he also ran hardware and software for Fire TV — than he could have ever imagined. A large part of the Echo’s early success, he added, is a result of the teams working on the Alexa artificial intelligence service that powers the device.

“Echo was in a great place when I left,” he said in a follow-up email. “But the voice team are the real heroes of Echo.”

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