Silicon Valley’s world of debauchery exposed in new book – CNET

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.


Crowd of people at concert waving arms in the air

And then they cuddle in a puddle.

Getty Images

The tech industry is no longer everyone’s favorite.

Some people are looking beyond its claims of saintliness and seeing a little ugliness.

With fine timing, then, Vanity Fair has published an excerpt from a new book called “Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley.”

Written by Bloomberg TV’s Emily Chang, “Brotopia” is a chronicle of how Silicon Valley’s “aggressive, misogynistic, work-at-all-costs culture has shut women out of the greatest wealth creation in the history of the world,” according to marketing copy for the book. “It’s time,” the copy says, “to break up the boys’ club.”

There’s plenty of evidence that women have been grossly mistreated in the tech world. Former Uber engineer Susan Fowler’s description of life at that infamous company is one of the more prominent examples. 

This first excerpt from Chang’s book, however, focuses on private parties apparently held by tech investors, founders and executives. Parties of the sexual kind, you understand.

I won’t make you endure all the gruesome details. Let’s just say that drugs are involved, as are something called “cuddle puddles.”

Just that nomenclature encourages a special sort of puddle to form inside my bile duct.

It seems to refer to well, drug-fueled communal stroking of bodies that may lead to, well, further strokes of inspiration and perspiration.

The question for Chang, of course, is whether this is all just good, clean, liberated libertarian fun, or the exploitation of women for power kicks. (I fear it might just be the latter.)

She offers that one of the excuses — no, explanations — tech titans offer for such debauchery is that they started very late. Sexually, that is. The poor dears are merely catching up. 

For Chang, these events seem reminiscent of the Playboy Mansion. 

Personally, I enjoyed this quote from a tech company founder who sought to explain, presumably, his own attractiveness: “We have more cachet than a random rich dude because we make products that touch a lot of people. You make a movie, and people watch it for a weekend. You make a product, and it touches people’s lives for years.”

Yes, the likes of Juicero will, indeed, touch people’s lives for years. 

Of course, none of this debauchery will feel unfamiliar to, say, Wall Street types.

But two more observations from Chang’s snippet offer sobering aspects.

A married VC told her he might be reluctant to hire women he saw at these parties. “If it’s a friend of a friend or you’ve seen them half-naked at Burning Man, all these ties come into play,” he said. 

But what if she’s seen you half-naked, sir? 

And then this from a tech entrepreneur: “The future of relationships is not just with humans but AI characters.”

I rather thought some Silicon Valley types already were AI characters.

Solving for XX: The tech industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about “women in tech.”

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