What in the world are these ex-WeWorkers up to?
That was my first thought when I saw a number of former WeWork employees, including the former chief product office/head of WeWork Labs Roee Adler and the former head of WeWork Food Labs Menachim Katz (disclosure: The Spoon was once a member of WeWork Food Labs) were busy working on a mysteriously stealthy startup by the name of Santa. The company also lists the co-founder of Fiverr, Shai Wininger, as a boardmember (I’m assuming he’s an early stage investor).
The company’s main online presence is a placeholder website that gives away nothing. More information is available on Linkedin, including a recent update by Adler, who lists his current job as the CEO of Santa.
“…want to join Santa? We have some super complex tech problems to solve as part of a novel b2c experience we’re building, combining physical and digital, ML and human emotions, and lots of fun.”
So not a ton of info, and really a sentence that could basically come from maybe 25% of the pitch decks circulating in Silicon Valley (or Silicon Wadi) at this point.
A little more info came from this description of Santa in one of the job listings they have on Linkedin: “Santa is a new Israeli startup building a novel physical/digital retail experience for small cities in the US.”
Now we’re kind of getting somewhere. From the sounds of it – and judging by the some of the job skills Santa is seeking in the listings on Linkedin – Santa looks like a consumer-facing hybrid physical/online consumer retail startup that will have some experiential aspects to it.
The small US-city angle is interesting and perhaps the most mysterious part to me – why small US cities and not big towns? This makes me wonder what the physical retail footprint part will be. Will Santa actually have their own retail space? Will they co-locate in a store-within-a-store concept? Will they be some b8ta-like concept platform that other retailers can use to give them a fresh take on multichannel interaction with consumers?
And then there’s the whole machine-learning and emotional connection aspect that Adler alludes to that is also intriguing.
Of course, The Spoon is a food-focused news site, and whether any of this actually connects to food is yet to be seen. I reached out to Menachim Katz, whom I knew when he was member of WeWork Food Labs, via Linkedin and he told me “no” when I asked him if Santa would have a food angle.
Whether or not Katz is being cagey – they are in stealth after all – is to be seen. For now we’ll assume that the company is not a food company (Santa would be a weird name for one), but it does look like it will be a consumer facing retail play with some delivery aspects, so maybe food will be one of the many products they launch.
Hopefully they’re come out of stealth in the near future and this mystery of Santa will soon be solved.