Sunday, August 25, 2013

Making Money Out Of Anti-Capitalism

From the Verge:

Burned out: tech money is harshing Burning Man's anti-capitalist vibe
At last year's Burning Man, a prominent tech investor was attacked by ninjas. "They were just a bunch of people dressed up as ninjas, riding around on bikes," says Garry Tan, Y Combinator partner and co-founder of "They yelled out 'ninja! ninja!' and then they tapped me lightly on the arm." As quickly as they'd appeared, the ninjas were gone. The bikes had been provided by Google as a gift to the festival.

The 28th incarnation of the Burning Man festival kicks off next week, but it’s come a long way from its origins as a performance-art celebration of radical self-reliance. Attendees build their own camps, cook their own food, and the exchange of money for goods is strictly forbidden. You’ll still see the gonzo art that gave Burning Man its reputation — but now there’s another, more business-minded element arriving from the tech world. So many venture capitalists attend the festival that it's said to be the worst week of the year for startups to try to fundraise.

Both Sergey Brin and Larry Page are avid Burners, and they've joked about hiring Eric Schmidt as CEO because he was the only candidate who'd been to the festival. Last year, Brin was visible on the Playa wearing a silver bodysuit, and Page has spoken of Black Rock City as a model for the kind of techno-libertarian experimental space he wants to establish.

There’s no official word on whether Brin and Page will be headed to Black Rock for the festival next week, but even if they don’t, there will be plenty of luminaries in their place. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has attended, and there are rumors that last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made an art car for the festival. This year will also see Burning Man's third on-site TED conference, with speeches by "inspirational change agents" on the theme of paradigm shifts....MORE