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Utah Business

On stolen package revenge, post-vasectomy lab startups, and more strange tech in Utah this February.

The strangest tech to come out of Utah in February

Happy latter-day loving, y’all. It’s that time of year again, and Cricut-ers everywhere are busy churning out variations of the “Bee Mine” theme for all you lovebugs. The Valentine volume is up, thanks to Utah grabbing the number one spot in Bankrate’s housing heat index. You can thank Covid for making people wake up and want to smell the wilderness. The influx of new folk isn’t slowing anytime soon—Salt Lake City tops’s most-growth metro list for 2022.

House prices rocketed up 28 percent, leaving many of those home-is-where-the-heart-is house hunters at a loss. Sellers can be as picky as they like and still get takers. Last summer, Scott Paul—the infamous maverick investor—promised purchasers a 10 percent discount off his Homie-listed house if they paid in Dogecoin. He got two offers but rejected both as too low. 

Paul’s admitted marketing stunt heralds the dawning of high-tech home sales in Utah; Bitcoin Real Estate has a bunch of luxury in-state listings, and Park City-based Quest Crypto is all-in on merging the blockchain with real estate.

In response, a surprising resource has emerged: #realtorsoftiktok. Dominique DeFelice from eXp Realty in Salt Lake City amassed 129,000 likes for her day-in-the-life-of-a-realtor TikTok videos. Sabrina Rose dishes the dirt on investment properties, and Jessica Lee of Signature Real Estate Utah makes realtor work look like a catwalk. Gotta share the love, mmkay?

On stolen package revenge, post-vasectomy lab startups, and more strange tech in Utah this February.

Porch pirate payback

Utah’s hyped-up housing market has taken an unexpected turn in the form of love letters. Seriously, wannabe buyers are penning and posting cloying letters to sellers where they beg them for the privilege of overpaying for their property. “Desperation has…caused [these letters] to become so prevalent,” according to Salt Lake’s Board of Realtors. Major ick. 

Even if people’s cringe-tastic letters prevail, trouble is brewing. Say hello to the sinister spate of opportunistic porch pirates that are gleefully pilfering people’s Amazon packages (try saying that last part fast, for fun).

While plunder by porch pirates during the holidays isn’t just a Utah problem, it’s a bigger deal than people realize. Salt Lake City ranked third in the nation for porch pirates in 2021. One Orem family was so p****d off by their numerous purloined packages that they took matters into their own hands. Contractor Justin Bankhead offered a $500 reward to anyone who could nab the box-nappers—and his son, 14-year-old Cody Bankhead, rose to the challenge.

Cody attached a $29 Apple AirTag to a decoy box and left it on their porch. In the wee hours of the night, a porch pirate swung by and grabbed it. The snatch was captured on the Bankhead’s Ring doorbell, and Cody’s AirTag tracker (using Apple’s proprietary ultra-wideband technology) directed the police to the thief’s location, where they arrested him. The cops, wary of creating a crack team of Amazon-hunting teenage vigilantes, warned people not to place themselves in danger—so FYI, don’t try this at home. 

On stolen package revenge, post-vasectomy lab startups, and more strange tech in Utah this February.

Mail that male

Staying in our Valentine’s vein, don’t you just hate it when you go through the trouble of getting your gonads snipped, only for them to accidentally return to their glory days—potentially resulting in loved-but-accidental new family members? Those one-to-two reversals per thousand snips rate is a real thing. Well, thanks to Brigham Young University graduate Marissa Johnson, men can put their minds at rest with the Male From Home mail-in kit. 

Side note: The vasectomy world is chock-a-block with painful puns. SLC’s Weekend Vasectomy Clinic advertises a “package for your package,” and Vasectomy Pro’s slogan is, “This Changes Everything.” 

Anywho, Johnson’s post-vasectomy lab testing service is priced at $50 a pop, and she recommends testing once a year or more. Not everyone is a fan. Utah urologist Dr. John Smith says it’s “more cost-effective just to come in and get a full semen analysis done with a fertility specialist.” That may be true if you’re trying to speed up those swimmers, but for everyone else, Male from Home seems to be a good way to ward off any doubts.

DatingSafe puts limits on latter-day loving

If you’re sick of Valentine’s Day-inspired PDAs because you don’t have anyone to gross people out with, we’ve got that covered! The producers behind the sensational reality shows “Married at First Sight” and “Love Is Blind” have teamed up with Latter-Day Matchmaker (who ran that viral “Marry an LDS Millionaire” promotion) to develop a new reality show for socially awkward but Instagram-worthy LDS singles. Given their combined ability to make problematic, wince-worthy, addictive drama, a hot mess is guaranteed. 

“Ready for eternal marriage?” they ask—just submit a headshot, body shot, LinkedIn profile, mission serving status, and if you’re a worthy temple recommend holder (answer “yes,” “no,” “it’s complicated,” or “requires more information”). On the upside, you can almost guarantee you won’t walk away $74k poorer, like the Summit County woman swindled by her Tinder date’s “crypto” get-rich-quick scheme. 

Considering this mess—and the spike in Crypto-rom scams (report them to the Federal Trade Commission)—there’s a dim light on the horizon. Meet DatingSafe (formerly LDS Match), the dating startup that promises to verify every user. Currently in dev mode, their initial MO was to end catfishing, but they’re evolving into a more tailored service.

According to DatingSafe, the dating pool is too big. How can you connect when you’re always swiping? Instead of Plenty of Fish(ing), the app whittles down the pool to offer users one match per day via video chat. It feels odd to roll back user choices in a world chock-full of instant gratification and easy access, but they may have something here. As an app user, I’ve felt swamped by the sheer volume of options all too often. And once I’m done swiping, I’m too exhausted to chat with my matches! It’s unclear how the startup matches you and what their UI looks like, but I’m all for something new in the dating space.

On stolen package revenge, post-vasectomy lab startups, and more strange tech in Utah this February.

Zara Stone is a freelance journalist covering technology, culture, and everything in between. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and VICE.