“Oh My God, This Is So F—ed Up”: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side

“Oh My God, This Is So F—ed Up”: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side, by Emily Chang.

About once a month, on a Friday or Saturday night, the Silicon Valley Technorati gather for a drug-heavy, sex-heavy party. …

Many participants don’t seem the least bit embarrassed, much less ashamed. On the contrary, they speak proudly about how they’re overturning traditions and paradigms in their private lives, just as they do in the technology world they rule. Like Julian Assange denouncing the nation-state, industry hotshots speak of these activities in a tone that is at once self-congratulatory and dismissive of criticism. Their behavior at these high-end parties is an extension of the progressiveness and open-mindedness — the audacity, if you will — that make founders think they can change the world. And they believe that their entitlement to disrupt doesn’t stop at technology; it extends to society as well. Few participants, however, have been willing to describe these scenes to me without a guarantee of anonymity. …

Guests and hosts include powerful first-round investors, well-known entrepreneurs, and top executives. Some of them are the titans of the Valley, household names. The female guests have different qualifications. If you are attractive, willing, and (usually) young, you needn’t worry about your résumé or bank account. Some of the women work in tech in the Bay Area, but others come from Los Angeles and beyond, and are employed in symbiotic industries such as real estate, personal training, and public relations. In some scenarios, the ratio of women to wealthy men is roughly two to one, so the men have more than enough women to choose from. “You know when it’s that kind of party,” one male tech investor told me. “At normal tech parties, there are hardly any women. At these kinds of party, there are tons of them.” ..

The vast majority of people in Silicon Valley have no idea these kinds of sex parties are happening at all. If you’re reading this and shaking your head saying, “This isn’t the Silicon Valley that I know,” you may not be a rich and edgy male founder or investor, or a female in tech in her 20s. …

Alcohol lubricates the conversation until, after the final course, the drugs roll out. Some form of MDMA, a.k.a. Ecstasy or Molly, known for transforming relative strangers into extremely affectionate friends, is de rigueur … People start cuddling and making out. These aren’t group orgies, per se, but guests will break out into twosomes or threesomes or more. They may disappear into one of the venue’s many rooms, or they may simply get down in the open. Night turns to day, and the group reconvenes for breakfast, after which some may have intercourse again. Eat, drugs, sex, repeat. …

Many guests are invited as couples — husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends — because open relationships are the new normal. …

Rich men expecting casual sexual access to women is anything but a new paradigm. But many of the A-listers in Silicon Valley have something unique in common: a lonely adolescence devoid of contact with the opposite sex. Married V.C. described his teenage life as years of playing computer games and not going on a date until he was 20 years old. Now, to his amazement, he finds himself in a circle of trusted and adventurous tech friends with the money and resources to explore their every desire. After years of restriction and longing, he is living a fantasy, and his wife is right there along with him.

Married V.C.’s story — that his current voraciousness is explained by his sexual deprivation in adolescence — is one I hear a lot in Silicon Valley. They are finally getting theirs. …

For successful women in Silicon Valley, the drug-and-sex-party scene is a minefield to navigate. This isn’t a matter of Bay Area tech women being more prudish than most; I doubt recent history has ever seen a cohort of women more adventurous or less restrained in exploring sexual boundaries. The problem is that the culture of sexual adventurism now permeating Silicon Valley tends to be more consequential for women than for men, particularly as it relates to their careers in tech. … Men actually get business done at sex parties and strip clubs. But when women put themselves in these situations, they risk losing credibility and respect.

The party scene is now so pervasive that women entrepreneurs say turning down invitations relegates them to the uncool-kids’ table. “It’s very hard to create a personal connection with a male investor, and if you succeed, they become attracted to you,” one told me. “They think you’re part of their inner circle, [and] in San Francisco that means you’re invited to some kind of orgy. I couldn’t escape it here. Not doing it was a thing.” Rather than finding it odd that she would attend a sex party, says this entrepreneur, people would be confused about her not attending. “The fact that you don’t go is weird,” the entrepreneur said, and it means being left out of important conversations. “They talk business at these parties. They do business,” she said. “They decide things.” Ultimately, this entrepreneur got so fed up that she moved herself and her start-up to New York and left Silicon Valley for good.

Something to remember as we watch tech transform our world, censor the internet, and lobby politicians.