It's no secret that there's a lot of money flowing into (but not out of) Silicon Valley, yet the tech scenesters are trying awfully hard to keep their spending under wraps. Case very much in point: The recent birthday party of Yammer CEO David Sacks, which is gaining a lot of negative attention.
After living the Valley dream, getting his company bought up by Microsoft for $1.2 billion Sacks threw himself a lavish birthday party at the $125 million Fleur de Lys mansion in Beverly Glen over the weekend. Business Insider's Owen Thomas has the cost quoted at $1.4 million, according to one guest, who has no reason to know the actual price. This -- yet again -- proves that Silicon Valley has a lot of money that it only wants to spend on itself. Oh, and in an almost too perfect nod to the selfishness of the current iteration of the tech bubble—where the rich get richer and the rest of us, can't even catch a break—Sacks' party theme was "Let Him Eat Cake," a too-on-the-nose take on Marie Antoinette. But here's the kicker: The party was a big secret. Or at least it was supposed to be before people started tweeting about it, leading us to believe Silicon Valley is a little ashamed of its own over-the-top spending sprees.
Sacks not only told attendees they could not use social media or photo-sharing services at all at the party, he banned journalist friend of his tech blogger Sarah Lacy from attending the party. After mentioning her invite in a post, Lacy got an e-mail from Sacks saying he didn't appreciate the write-up, uninviting her.
This isn't the first time we've seen Silicon Valley's monied go bashful over their spending. Recently, The New York Times' Somini Sengupta brought our attention to the "reticent rich," who spend their money in secret. "It’s almost an unspoken rule: spend your money, but do it privately," an anonymous source told Sengupta, who details underground mansions and super-fancy bikes and houses that look like they cost a fraction of the price. Some tech people still spend lavishly, but they like to pretend they don't.
What do these guys have to hide? We already know they're rich. Their secrecy might have something to do with the way the wealthy are perceived in America these days. As Sengupta suggests, "One of the parlor games here is the effort by many to distinguish themselves from the much maligned coterie of bankers and other members of the 1 percent in places like New York and Boston." Tech millionaires (and billionaires) don't want us to spot the hypocrisy. They claim to use their money for good. "It is a means to do more, to make more money and ultimately build more," Ted Zoller, a senior fellow at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation told Sengupta, pointing all the investing successful start-ups have done in nascent ones. Though that happens, too, it's not all like that. Some of these guys are buying huge houses, fancy bikes, and throwing themsleves over-the-top blowouts.
In any case, these efforts aren't working. Even with the official ban, friends of Sacks couldn't help themselves sending out tweets and Instagrams of the event, including that photo above tweeted by Snoop Dogg, who performed at the bash. Clearly the rich can buy anything, except for people's silence.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.