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Don’t blame MKBHD for the fate of Humane AI and Fisker | TechCrunch

Don’t blame MKBHD for the fate of Humane AI and Fisker | TechCrunch

Raised Humane AI more than that $230 million Before it ships a product. And when it finally released its Ai Pin — priced at $699 plus a $24 monthly subscription — nearly every tech reviewer had the same dismay: This much-hyped product, the promise Disrupting smartphone dominancenot very good.

Yet some onlookers are declaring that YouTuber Marquez Brownlee, known as MKBHD, will be solely responsible if the company eventually fails. Soon after Human AI dropped its long-awaited product, the conversation shifted away from the product itself and instead how Brownlee talked about it in his review.

of Brownlie video The title is a bit cliche: “Worst product I've ever reviewed… for now.” But when you watch the actual video, the title lives up to its promise.

“It was really hard to come up with a title for this video,” Brownlee said in the review, which currently has more than 5 million views. “But I would say, at one point, my working title for him was, 'This product is either the dumbest thing ever, or I'm an idiot.'

Brownlee is extraordinarily influential, with more than 18 million YouTube subscribers, but his criticisms echo those of other reviewers: Pin's battery life is poor. It's hard to wear. It mistakes too often to be reliable. Its laser projection screen is completely ineffective outdoors. And it's just not worth the same sticker price as an Android phone.

Still, the review caused a stir on social media.

“I find that offensive, almost immoral, when you have 18 million subscribers,” said former AWS engineer Daniel Vassallo. wrote On Sunday at X. “It's hard to explain why, but with great access comes great responsibility. Potentially killing someone else's fledgling project shows recklessness. First, there's no harm.”

Another tech content creator, Alex Finn, Written on x: “MKBHD bankrupted a company in 41 seconds,” Finn later said, referring to the opening of his video, adding, “If the video had never come out, they would have sold a lot more.”

As the conversation picked up steam, MKBHD tweeted back to Vassallo, “We disagree on what my job is.”

When reached for comment, Vassallo said, “A lot of people thought I was defending Human or its products. I wasn't. My observation was about the scale of MKBHD's influence and how. That power deserves more rigor than the sensational headline on YouTube: 'Worst product I've ever reviewed.' The power to crush a company is not to be taken lightly, and that headline is what most people will see the original review was fair and balanced.

An underdog worth $800 million

Critics of MKBHD's video are acting like human AI is an underdog in space. But it's not a green, early-stage startup trying its hand at building new hardware. It's a company that raised a Series C round and attracted investors like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and various top venture capital firms before Consumers get their hands on this product.

“Call me a cynic, but I'm wary of startups with huge war chests but no commercial products to speak of,” TechCrunch reporter Kyle Wiggers said. wrote After last year's Series C raise.

When asked for comment, MKBHD directed TechCrunch to its new. YouTube's answer to the situation.

“All that really makes any honest assessment is that it accelerates what was already going on,” he says. video.

In less than a day after it was posted, the follow-up video had more than 2 million views.

This is not an isolated incident for MKBHD. The YouTuber was also accused of instigating the downfall of EV startup Fisker when he negatively reviewed the Fisker Ocean car in a similarly titled video last month: “This is the worst car I have ever reviewed.

After Brownlee posted his review, Fisker laid off 15 percent of its staff. And stopped production. But Fisker was already in freefall before Brownlee said the Fisker Ocean was the worst car he had ever reviewed. In fact, at the time, he revealed in a regulatory filing spied by TechCrunch that he just $121 million left in the bank.

Further, in the month prior to the MKBHD review, federal safety regulators opened an investigation into complaints about Fisker Ocean. Brakes are not working properly. TechCrunch separately learned That Ocean drivers had been complaining to Fisker for months about poor brake performance, faulty key fobs and sudden power cuts. A customer wrote to Fisker that he feared for his life after his car suddenly lost power while driving on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles.

So is Fisker failing because it delivered a horribly flawed product, or because a very popular YouTuber said the car was bad?

Thankfully, human AI's superiority won't put anyone in mortal danger. But these parallels reveal the same misplaced anger at Brownlee for his honest criticism of disturbing products.

An uncomfortable but familiar criticism

Some black scholars viewed MKBHD's critique through a different lens.

The human AI pin was widely panned in tech review boards, but the only person who has received widespread and lasting criticism for his review is MKBHD, a black man.

There were also some familiar aspects of how he was being criticized: the constant barrage of questions about how he presented the review transcript. Tone policing, a technique commonly used to dismiss something, especially black people, just because someone doesn't like the way they say it. Black people are judged harshly for how they present a subject and are undermined unless they present it in a way that makes the accuser more comfortable. be

“If there was anything other than Brownlee Black, it would be 'an honest review' that sheds light on the AI ​​bubble,” one Black founder told TechCrunch. “Instead, he's 'harsh,' and 'it's not fair that he bankrupts such a well-funded company. He should be more caustic in his criticism.' In a world full of fraud and deception, Marquez must do what he thinks is right and he did.”

The tone of the review's headline also depends on how you look at it — MKBHD added “for now” to the title, suggesting that Humane AI could eventually improve upon that. Which every reviewer now agrees is a poor product.

It's also notable that the tech community reserved particular criticism for a black man exercising power through his reviews, and not other white male tech podcasts, voices, and online commentators who always voiced their opinions. Share and are appreciated for their comments and product critiques. . It felt like some people expected MKBHD to be held to a higher standard in a way that doesn't usually speak out against prominent white tech influencers.

“Tech has issues with bias against black people, tech has issues with the media being critics, not cheerleaders, so of course, tech has issues with black tech media that are fans of things like AI and IoT. criticizes Boy's themes.” The black investor told TechCrunch. “That doesn't make his assessment any less valid or the whiner any less thin-skinned, but it does make me question how anyone can watch this playout without seeing the dog whistles.”

But it's remarkable in itself – both for Brownlee and for the creator economy at large – that one YouTuber can have such a big impact.

In an interview with Colin and Sameer, Brownlee reflects on a bygone era of media when tech reviewers from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times were the only voices people looked to for opinions on new tech. But now, anyone on the Internet can say, regardless of their institutional affiliation.

“When one of my YouTube videos goes up on a product, often hundreds of others go on the same product at the same time,” he said. “There are many more voices now.”

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