An excerpt released earlier this month of the book, Brotopia, made revelations about dark side of Silicon Valley–sex and drug parties. Author of the book and journalist Emily Chang claimed that the secret is open for those working and attending those parties, citing an anonymous source. Accusations have been on the rise, stating that the male-dominant tech sector largely takes advantage of younger female employees in such parties. The Vanity Fair published an article, which was the excerpt of the book earlier this month. It has met with a lot of backlash from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and attendees of such parties. A particularly mentioned party in the article was named as “a party on the edge of the earth”.
Paul Biggar, tech entrepreneur and one of the attendees of the party took Medium to clarify his stance on such claims. Paul outlined that the party was organized by a top-tier venture capitalist firm, held at the general partner’s house, and attended by entrepreneurs, founders, and top executives. He clarified that he did not see any group sex or drugs.
He wrote, “This wasn’t billed as a sex party; it was official party of the VC firm. But we were certainly primed for it — there was a sorta “wink-wink, nudge-nudge” thing going on. We were warned before going not to be freaked out about the stuff there, no photos were allowed(!), and definitely don’t tell anyone what we saw.”
In his blog, Paul did not mention the name of venture capitalist firm which ran the party. Later, Axios revelead that the party was held at the house of Steve Jurvetson, who left the VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) last fall to focus on personal matters. After the revelation by Axios, DFJ commented, “We were dismayed to learn of behavior at the party that was completely at odds with DFJ’s culture, which has been, and will continue to be, built on the values of respect and integrity. We would never want anyone to feel uncomfortable and we are sorry if that happened.”
The Jurvetson representative rejected the idea of the party being a ‘sex party’, clarifying the event was organized by the VC firm for at least three years and the firm should not remain in dark for the event.
The controversy flared up more heat when Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, expressed his views about the party. He declared that the party was boring and regarded it as a corporate party. He told Wired, “That DFJ party was boring and corporate, with zero sex or nudity anywhere. Nerds on a couch are not a ‘cuddle puddle.’ I was hounded all night by DFJ-funded entrepreneurs, so went to sleep around 1am. Nothing remotely worth writing about happened. The most fun thing was Steve lighting a model rocket around midnight.”
Another attendee of the party, Mason Hartman took Twitter to tell her side of the story. She wrote that she was at the party under siege till 5am and there was no sex or nudity, and almost no cuddling. She outlined that some of the attendees also experienced the same. She shared a screenshot in which Alexander Green shared his experience of the night as sitting around “talking about Bach and machine learning and OpenGL all night.” She slammed that the dishonest journalism has made a false impression and expressed worry about the effect it may have on girls looking forward to join tech industry.
On the other hand, Chang stood strong on her stance and expressed opinion on her Twitter account. She stated, “At a large company party, different people have different experiences. In this case, one of my sources was propositioned there, others describing drug use or felt uncomfortable.”
Though the excerpt gave rise to a debate on whether sex parties really take place in Silicon Valley, there is no strong evidence confirming the revelations in the book.