STARTUPS
Startups choose to ‘stay foolish’ today

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Ola said it was launching a hyperlocal news service, Ola News Network, so users could get news on “paneer ka price”.

On Friday, cab aggregator Ola said it was launching a hyperlocal news service, Ola News Network, so users could get news on “paneer ka price” or the local weather. Calls to the company have yielded rather opaque responses but it’s hard to take announcements around April 1 seriously as startups are known to pull pranks every year.

Other startups are clearly having a laugh — UberEats has announced an anti-ageing ice cream, “smooth and creamy dark chocolate ice cream that also works on eight signs of ageing” complete with a video. Hotel aggregator Oyo tweeted that it will launch ‘Oyo Smart Coin’ which will allow consumers to transact on its website and get discounts — it’s a prank. Furniture startup Urban Ladder has launched a “new product”, ‘The Urban Ladder’, a combination chair and ladder with a mug holder and a charging point. When one clicks on the link to buy the wonder ladder, it says ‘Happy April Fools’.

This year, the Bengaluru-based online seller has been clear that it’s spoofing customers. Two years ago, it successfully fooled everyone with an advertisement for a unique job — a mattress tester, seeking candidates who showed “a complete lack of enthusiasm and drive”. It got scores of serious applicants, and caused much disappointment when it confessed to the prank at the end of the day.

Ola’s spokesperson, meanwhile, has been responding to queries with the bland “We will share details soon” but the company does have its own history of pulling fast ones ahead of April Fools’ Day. In 2016, it said it was launching Ola Rooms for users to spend a night in their cabs for Rs 249. Before that, it advertised a helicopter aggregation service Ola Chopper.

It’s not only Indian startups that get a laugh out on April 1. In 2015, Tesla put out a press release announcing a line of watches, Model W. “It is infinitely adjustable, able to tell the time no matter where you are on earth…,” it said. But clearly, many didn’t get the joke. In the minute following the release, Tesla stock jumped and 400,000 shares traded, the heaviest one minute of trading since the opening 60 seconds.

Google’s also known to roll out “new products” on April Fools’ Day. In 2005, it “launched” Google Gulp, a smart drink with a DNA scanner to read genetic data, “fine-tuning your individual hormonal cocktail in real time” to deliver a customised drink. One year, it turned Google Maps into a PacMan game. Last year though, Google ended up pranking itself: it added a mic drop feature, an angry minion GIF that attached itself to emails and closed down replies, and got a flood of complaints. It had to apologise.

[“Source-economictimes”]

 

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