- Rich Polk/Getty Images for LACMA
- Attendees of a now notorious Silicon Valley event described as a “sex party” are disputing its characterization by Emily Chang in her upcoming book “Brotopia.”
- “If there are ‘sex parties’ in Silicon Valley, I haven’t seen or heard of one,” said Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX.
- Another attendee confirmed there was a “cuddle space” at the party but said she napped there without any issues and felt safe throughout.
- In a statement, Chang said that she “can’t speak for what other attendees experienced” and the party is a “tiny component” of a broader culture that has excluded women.
Some attendees of a now notorious Silicon Valley event are disputing its characterization as a “sex party” in a coming book, with Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, saying that “nerds on a couch are not a ‘cuddle puddle.'”
The event on an evening in June was a party at the home of Steve Jurvetson, then an investor at the venture-capital firm DFJ. It was first highlighted earlier this month in an excerpt from “Brotopia,” the Bloomberg reporter Emily Chang’s book on the culture of the tech industry, in which she quoted an unnamed source describing drug use and open sexual behavior at the party.
Musk’s representative first confirmed to Business Insider that the entrepreneur was in attendance but said he was under the impression it was a “corporate party with a costume theme” and saw no sign of it becoming a “sex party” when he left at 1 a.m.
In a subsequent statement to Wired, Musk called Chang’s reporting “salacious nonsense” and said it was “misleading.”
He said (emphasis ours):
“Emily Chang’s article was salacious nonsense. She conflated what happens in SF sex clubs in the Tenderloin, which have been around long before Silicon Valley was anything, with boring VC parties on the Peninsula. That is misleading to the public and she should be ashamed.
“If there are ‘sex parties’ in Silicon Valley, I haven’t seen or heard of one. If you want wild parties, you’re in the wrong place. Obviously.
“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.”
Other tech industry figures identifying themselves as guests have since also pushed back on the portrayal of the event.
- Getty/Steve Jennings
Mary Lou Jepsen, an entrepreneur who was formerly in executive roles at Facebook and Google, tweeted on Thursday: “I was at Steve Jurvetson’s and Genevieve Wolff Lydstone’s Glamazon party – it’s a complete mischaracterization of what went on. It was a great party with brilliant techies, business folks and creatives talking about ideas.”
Another apparent attendee, Mason Hartman, said on social media that she was there until 5 a.m. and saw no sex or nudity and “almost no cuddling.”
“The cuddling that I saw (and we’re talking maximally tame, here) was almost entirely between people who were obviously couples,” Hartman said.
She confirmed there was a “cuddle space” but said she “laid down and napped on-and-off for the last few hours I was there” and wasn’t bothered by anyone.
I want to share some longer remarks on the so-called Silicon Valley elite “sex party” that’s making the rounds. (Be warned: the truth is boring.) pic.twitter.com/T4BrLTeFof
— Mason Hartman (@webdevMason) January 12, 2018
In a blog post published earlier this week, the entrepreneur Paul Biggar said he didn’t see any sex or drugs and highlighted that it was an official party organized by DFJ. He also raised concerns about the potential for abuse and exploitation at such events.
“Not that sex is bad, nor that sex parties are bad,” he wrote. “Using power to deny access to women, then providing access so long as they have sex with you, that’s abuse, and that’s f—ed up.”
Chang described an account of the party from “Jane Doe” in the book excerpt:
“Doe found herself on the floor with two couples, including a male entrepreneur and his wife. The living room had been blanketed in plush white faux fur and pillows, where, as the evening wore on, several people lay down and started stroking one another, Doe said, in what became a sizable cuddle puddle. One venture capitalist, dressed up as a bunny (it’s unclear how this fit into the edge-of-the-earth theme), offered Jane Doe some powder in a plastic bag. It was Molly. ‘They said it will just make you feel relaxed and you’re going to like being touched,’ Doe recounted to me.”
In a statement to Business Insider, a DFJ representative said the firm was “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 statement said.
It said the company’s “decisive action” in recent months reflected a “steadfast commitment to our values” – a potential reference to a Recode report that Jurvetson, the host of the party, left DFJ in November following an investigation into his conduct.
The DFJ representative declined to specify what took place at the event.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Chang wrote: “I recognize that at a large company party, different people have different experiences. In this case, one of my sources was propositioned there, others described drug use or felt uncomfortable. I can’t speak for what other attendees experienced.
“But this party scene is just a tiny component of a much broader culture that has largely left women out of the greatest wealth creation in the history of the world.”
A few thoughts from me: pic.twitter.com/2NP6iEUrG3
— Emily Chang (@emilychangtv) January 12, 2018