Area Journalist Partying Too Hard

I’m obviously not getting invited to the right parties, because the Silicon Valley I know and love bears no resemblance to the “obscene” picture painted by the NY Times’ Nick Bilton in his article earlier today.

The money here is obscene. The newly minted rich are obsessed with outperforming their rivals. One industry party I attended had a jungle theme. This included a real, 600-pound tiger in a cage and a monkey that would pose for Instagram photos. A prominent Googler’s Christmas party in Palo Alto had mounds of snow in the yard to round out the festive spirit. It was 70 degrees outside. Sean Parker, a founder of Airtime, threw a lavish, $1 million party that included models he hired to roam the room and a performance by Snoop Dogg.

There is an obscene amount of money here. But it’s the only place in the world where most rich people don’t really flaunt it.

I know a billionaire that drove an old Honda until recently, for example. Another that lived in a small apartment so he didn’t have to bother with the hassle of a home.

None of the people I hang out with talk about their private jets or wear “handcrafted jeans” (whatever that is).

And unlike New York, LA or Washington DC, the conversations here are rarely about money. They’re usually about ideas.

No doubt, there are countless people who consider themselves part of the startup scene who do little else than hop from one trendy party to the next.

But these parties, and these people, are not the ones doing anything interesting. As a blogger I learned long ago to shun those events. The real stuff happens at the events that don’t have caged tigers. Or NY Times reporters.

Because this isn’t a Hangover movie.

Perhaps that article speaks more of Nick Bilton’s social life than the Silicon Valley he’s trying to describe. Or maybe he’s watching too many Bravo shows.

Because, young Nick, the stupid shit people do in Silicon Valley these days is preciously innocent compared to the late 90s. That was a time that even the serious people started to lose the plot.

There’s a pattern with reporters and bloggers that come to Silicon Valley and experience it all for the first time.

They write stories about how all the startups now are building useless stuff and wax nostalgic for the recent past when people had bigger dreams and ambitions.

And then they talk about the excess at all the parties.

My advice is this. Stop going to parties. Then use all that free time to start spending time with the serious people, doing serious things. They aren’t at those ridiculous parties. So, why are you?

PS – One thing Nick got right though, are the endless pitches. Like Nick I was also pitched in a bathroom at a urinal. That’s not something you soon forget.

57 thoughts on “Area Journalist Partying Too Hard

  1. The startup I work for in the midwest had a crazy party too. We went to a local bar and the CEO put down his card and we ordered beers on it for the night. That’s about as lavish as it gets and in my opinion, as lavish as it should get. Flaunting your cash just shows the world you can be a bigger douchebag than the rest of the douchebags.

  2. Zee says:

    Glad you brought this up… I really felt like i’d missed out after reading that piece of Nicks’.

  3. Those of us who would give anything to live in the Valley and be a true part of the startup scene don’t care about parties OR money. It’s the sense of pride and ownership… the hard work… the light at the end of the tunnel knowing you’ve poured your heart and soul into something – breathed your life into it – and made it something that you can share with those around you. Call me crazy, but THAT is the Valley I wish so desperately to be a part of. Bilton and Parker and Snoop Dogg can compare soirees while the rest of us work.

  4. If you’re wondering *why* there are startup pitches so frequently in urinals, this is why: http://techcommntr.com/post/17106344207/a-startup-idea-in-a-bathroom-i-bet-its-very

  5. What’s this guy got against Silicon Valley?

    Nick is so wide off the mark here; it’s complete nonsense. I moved here from London, where the super-rich make it very clear just how many zeros there are at the end of their bank accounts by the label of champagne they drink and the type of supercar they drive. Here the most conspicuously absent signal is the lack of super cars. Yes, there’s a few Teslas and the odd Ferrari or Aston Martin, but mainly people are going around in a Prius, or if they’re really splashing out, a Lexus hybrid.

    Unlike the rich elsewhere, the rich here don’t appear excited by accumulating ever greater pots of money, but rather do something fun, exciting and change the world. There’s no where like :)

  6. Marc Canter says:

    ‘cept for that in Vegas, up in the suite – with Jen.

    And are you that the ‘ideas’ these kids are talking are ideas on how to make money? ‘Cause I don’t see anybody worrying about creating jobs for normal people!

  7. Dave McClure says:

    I’d agree, most of the silicon valley I know isn’t pissing gold filigree around willy-nilly.

    altho there’s some amount of excess going on lately, it pales in comparison to the late 90’s… hopefully we’ve learned a little bit since then. perhaps nick just gets to hang with the cool kids ;)

    silicon valley does let its hair down, but mostly it’s nothing spectacular other than some geeks enjoying a few beers. then again, that sounds like a pretty good idea.

  8. Jorge Williams says:

    He must have seen The Social Network by Aaron Sorkin.

  9. I’m glad you set the record straight about what the valley is really like for those that got coaxed into believe Nick’s article. It’s always awesome to me that the people with the most money are “idea people” and will be for life.

  10. Dorsey talks about handcrafted jeans that he likes in NYC, not SF

  11. Wow, a live tiger? Clearly I’m not going to the right parties.

    I’m not sure whether Bilton is going to real parties, or just watching that Bravo show and recapping the results.

  12. I suspect that the appropriate way to refute someone’s gross generalization about Silicon Valley based on minimal data isn’t to make gross generalizations about other places based on minimal data.

  13. I’ve been following Nick Bilton on Twitter for a while now. His articles are hit and miss, mostly continuations of what MG Siegler writes.

    Funny how a major publication is the one copying now. Or maybe it was always that way and we never saw it until individuals had the expression highway that is the Internet.

    We see it, Nick.

  14. Jorge Williams says:

    Nick Bilton suxor bittime.

  15. Adam says:

    The real stuff happens at the events that don’t have caged tigers.

    Indeed. But the real real stuff is happening at the events that have uncaged tigers.

  16. Don Sheu says:

    I think everybody read the first half of the article and gave up in exasperation. In the final paragraphs he continues to state that the smartest people in the country are in Silicon Valley, and that people are creating good work.

    Though I think Silicon Valley would lose out in a comparison of Silicon Valley hedonists against the Conde Nasties of NYC.

    Perhaps that’s a comparative profile NIck Bilton can provide.

    • Butchmo says:

      I agree, the final paragraphs are important. I can’t understand Arrington’s rant.

      By the way, Arrington says: “Stop going to parties. Then use all that free time to start spending time with the serious people, doing serious things. They aren’t at those ridiculous parties.”

      Well, Nick mentions a “proeminent Googler’s” and Sean Parker’s parties. They’re probably serious people doing serious things and throwing “ridiculous parties”. Nothing wrong with that.

    • Andy Aasen says:

      Finally a decent comment, I agree completely no one above took the time to read the entire article, it is actually pretty positive towards Silicon Valley.

  17. Cullen Dudas says:

    To set the record straight … you told me to keep talking as you walked into the bathroom. I missed the joke :)

  18. Calley Nye says:

    Lol, I know all too well how right you are Mike.

  19. Lucretia Pruitt says:

    I’ll probably need to go look who said it up, but the statement that you can tell the truly wealthy in the Valley because they are the only ones who answer the question ‘what are you doing now?’ with ‘I’m unemployed’ or ‘I’m advising startups’ has seemed me to sum it up.
    Pretty much everyone else is either working, trying to evaluate their options/in-between projects (read: actually unemployed), or earning out their buy out.
    If they have time for parties like those? They probably aren’t shipping.

  20. I’m gonna buy some handcrafted jean sweat pants.

  21. Right on Mike. In the last few years several close friends out here have become millionaires and nothing has changed them. Some of them still have roommates, dress the same, act the same, et cetera. Maybe they travel more but that’s about it.

    As for ”My advice is this….Then use all that free time to start spending time with the serious people, doing serious things. ” — I was actually in the middle of writing a blog post aimed at first time entrepreneurs to avoid going to endless meetups.

  22. Enlightened Dude says:

    Some neighbor of one of my friends brought a Bengal Tiger cub to his rural party, and did’t cost him or any of us to pet it and take pictures with it. Some stripper friends attended the party too. Ok, we didn’t have Snoop Dogg, but I’m sure lots of people were smoking and didn’t need him.

  23. I used to be a journalist, and when you are a journalist you get invited to parties.

    I was a managing editor of The Register, in London, from 1998 to 2000. Most of the ‘parties’ were in pubs. And they weren’t really what you’d call parties, to be honest.

    When you are a journalist at the New York Times, I would imagine you get invited to a much swankier class of party… something I am now even more sure of, as it appears to be the only thing we have learned from Nick Bilton’s piece.

  24. Wow, it seems that blaming techies and startups for having too much of a happy (read – money, sex & rock’n’roll) life is going mainstream! Rick Kids of Instagram and this article seem to back that perception! :)

  25. Chris Ball says:

    Can I send you my Bodiluv.com 2 minute pitch? You can take your laptop to the toilet for an authentic experience.

    Seriously though…

  26. GreyMatter says:

    “Because, young Nick, the stupid shit people do in Silicon Valley these days is preciously innocent compared to the late 90s. That was a time that even the serious people started to lose the plot.”

    Are you suggesting that he goes back to the 90s and then he won’t need to complain about it?

    Nick is, of course, well-known and he will be invited to some of these parties in SV. He is just documenting what he has seen at those parties. But what he knows is really happening, is that there are people grinding hard and losing sleep because of what they are really doing. Let it not be lost that there are people who have made it and moved on to party like rockstars.

  27. David Callahan says:

    … I am still wondering why apparently very smart people even mention Bilton’s name or even read the absolute garbage he produces… don’t get it, unless you justify the situation by being “tolerant” and yes, “politically correct.”
    Of course, I understand the use and value of “The Press” when it comes to advertising and marketing.
    But, in a deeper sense, we have to realize that this joker works for the NY Times, where the “narrative,” liberal and leftist is in sync with the White House: meaning, among other things, demonizing those who achieve something on their own — and become wealthy in the process.
    Reference: just listen to the recent Obama speeches stating that those who become wealthy do so at the expense of many others [cheating] — Class warfare anyone? This is from the “Hope and Change” politician constantly trying to divide the American citizens…
    Bilton, and many others in the “mainstream media” look down on those entrepreneurs who work really hard to start companies and, yes, produce valuable, positive things for the country…

  28. Jeff says:

    Don’t play dumb, Arrington. No one believes it from a guy as smart as you. I guess people like the “show”, however.

  29. Matt says:

    Do you have any concept of how sanctimonious Silicon Valley has come to sound, in recent years, to the (obviously irrelevant but still extant) world outside of your little magic kingdom?

    I am so sick of hearing about the serious dedication and the “important work” which makes SV somehow special and distinct from other money-chases. Important work? You’re not exactly Louis Pasteur out there. The majority of the money pouring into SV funds innovation in the “important” field of getting people to view and click on advertisements.

    Due to various accidents of technological and economic history, this activity continues to attract money by the container ship for the time being. But if you really think that most SV “serious people” are any more engaged in “serious things” than millionaire athletes and entertainers, you’re f***ing deluding yourself.

    • Michael Arrington says:

      I think everyone should think the work they do and the life they lead is important.

      • Jackie D says:

        This. Though there is some hilarity in a guy leveling accusations of sanctimony before angrily asserting that people creating wealth and jobs aren’t really doing anything important.

  30. Granola says:

    The guy is right. Except the house party he’s referring to is prob an open house on the weekend on the peninsula. It’s a effing zoo replete with tigers.

    People need to get a grip.

  31. jumeirajames says:

    I mean? Who wants to be obscenely rich and act like an idiot?

    ME! ME! ME! ME! ME!

  32. Troublemaker @ FB says:

    > This included a real, 600-pound tiger in a cage
    This included a real, 300-pound cougar at Rosewood Sand Hill on Wed/Thurs nights

    > threw a lavish, $1 million party that included models … and Snoop Dogg
    I was there. There was Snoop Dogg, but no models, just more cougars. Geeks are desperate, u know.

  33. Because, young Nick, the stupid shit people do in Silicon Valley these days is preciously innocent compared to the late 90s. That was a time that even the serious people started to lose the plot. There’s a pattern with reporters and bloggers that come to Silicon Valley and experience it all for the first time.

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