Why, though? Maybe don’t bribe reviewers

An angry reviewer alleged a company tried to pay him for a good review. It didn’t go well for them.

Last month, YouTuber Marques Brownlee gave Humane’s AI Pin a negative review. Though he wasn’t alone in his remarks, there was some debate around whether a prominent reviewer could sink a company.

A pair of Kanoa earbuds against an orange background.

Most people would agree that, well, no. But in the case of Kanoa, an excoriating review may have, in fact, sealed its fate.


was founded by Cival Van Der Lubbe, promising wireless headphones to rival Apple’s AirPods. After numerous production delays, Kanoa sent YouTuber Cody Crouch, AKA iTwe4kz, a pair to review on his popular channel in 2017.

While Kanoa promised its headphones came with a pass-through audio feature that let users choose how much of the outside world they could hear, Crouch encountered several issues:

  • He struggled to pair the headphones with Kanoa’s app.
  • They emitted feedback when using the pass-through feature.
  • The charging case didn’t work when plugged in.
  • The instruction manual had no words in it.
  • Audio cut out when he put his phone in his back pocket.

But Crouch claimed what really made him furious was being offered $500 for a good review. Instead, he disclosed the bribe and tore them to bits.


… Kanoa completely shut down, claiming an investor pulled out after some “bad publicity” on “non-shippable beta units.”

Crouch maintained he had reviewed the finished product, but none of the project’s backers or customers ever received their order. Only one other reviewer ever got their hands on a pair; he said they were “fine,” but not particularly impressive.

The obvious lesson…

… is to not act shady when you can’t deliver your product.

Yet Kanoa’s entire journey was flanked with red flags — missed deadlines, unclear messaging to consumers, lack of communication with contractors. It also reportedly never received the FCC certification required for wireless headphones.

Insiders blamed the startup’s failure on a young entrepreneur who got in over his head, overpromising and failing to deliver — a tale as old as time.

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