Airlifting in the CEO Bitches

Last week we highlighted Business Insider’s coverage of Burning Man, talking about how a home-seizing hedge fund guru used a private aircraft charter to bring in ingredients for French Toast on the Playa, wanting to outdo some pancakes he’d seen.

Well, it seems the need of billionaires to feed us Burners is a new trend on the upswing. The Huffington Post reports on what I thought was just a Playa rumor: that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg flew in by helicopter to Burning Man for just one day, in order to help give out grilled cheese sandwiches. And presumably to enjoy the sight of people worshipping at the giant Like sculpture, which was obviously just a coincidence and couldn’t possibly be related.

facebook bunniesThe people behind the anti-establishment festival Burning Man have pledged to“always burn the man.” On Friday we learned that The Man himself helicoptered in to last year’s festival… and he made sandwiches.

Mark Zuckerberg flew in to spend a day at Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz’s camp last year, Moskovitz confirmed in a post published Friday on blogging platform Medium and first reported by The Verge. The Facebook CEO helped pitch a tent, gave out some grilled cheese sandwiches, and helicoptered away.

“I wanted him to experience the city and to experience gifting because I thought it would make him grow as a person and the world better off as a result; I believe that’s exactly what happened, however marginally (he was already a pretty great person),” Moskowitz writes. “I’ve seen this occur countless times.”

Gifting, a Burning Man ritual, refers to anything that is given to someone else without expectation of anything in return. A gift can be anything from a hug to a glass of water, meant to “break the commerce paradigm.”

zuck downA whole lot of tech’s biggest names are regulars at the annual (occasionally drug-fueled) festival in Nevada.

Burning Man regular Google co-founder Sergey Brin was allegedly traipsing about the desert in a silver body suit at last year’s festival.

This year, the event was overrun with Silicon Valley executives, including the notorious Winklevoss Twins, and there was even a giant statue of a Facebook “like.”Attendees were encouraged to “worship” at the statue before it was burned at the end of the week.

One of the main rules at Burning Man is that no money can change hands. Everyone at the festival is expected to pitch in where they can and survive on an economy of gifting. The festival started as a free event in honor of the Summer Solstice in 1986. As time has gone on, though, ticket prices have soaredto thousands of dollars and the event has become overrun with startup guys, causing some to speculate that the festival is becoming more of a “corporate retreat” than a utopia of decommodification.

If you read the brilliant book by Ben Mezrich, Accidental Billionaires, that was later turned into the movie The Social Network, those Winklevi were looking to kick the hoodie-wearing Zuckerberg’s ass. Amazing what a $300 million dollar settlement can do. Or maybe they’re just worried about how much dirt data Facebook has on them that it’s sharing with selling to the authorities…or this guy who claims they stole from him, before Zuckerberg stole from them. Maybe all this stealing made these guys start to consider Gifting as an antidote?

like rolling stoneSure enough, the Giant Facebook Like god was all it took to ensure one big happy reunion on the Playa. According to the Daily Telegraph that is, who also point out that Zuckerberg actually slept in a tent and pitched it himself. I did see a Blackhawk military helicopter hovering slowly around Burning Man at one point, the only chopper I can recall this year. The altitude, high temperature, and height and proximity of the mountain ranges are an issue for aviation, as was the additional hazard this year of smoke from the third largest fires in California history. There were almost 1000 planes landing at the airport, but helicopters are a rare sight.

Tyler Winklevoss: if you can't make more money, at least look better with your shirt off

Tyler Winklevoss: if you can’t make more money than Zuck, at least look better with your shirt off

One of the most bitter and most celebrated feuds of the Internet age appears to have reached a form of closure with hugs in the unlikely setting of a Bohemian festival in the Nevada desert.

Amid the colourful costumes and peace signs at the annual Burning Man gathering, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the twin brother entrepreneurs who sued Facebook, had a chance encounter with the company’s co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. It ended, remarkably, with them becoming Facebook friends.

Moskovitz, 29, America’s youngest billionaire, co-founded the social networking website with his Harvard roommate Mark Zuckerberg. He is worth an estimated $3 billion, and Zuckerberg an estimated $16 billion.

The Winklevoss brothers later alleged that Zuckerberg stole the idea for elements of the site from them, and were awarded a settlement worth $65 million in a long legal wrangle.

Their dispute was dramatized in the 2010 film The Social Network, in which the brothers were disparagingly referred to as the “Winklevii”.

Burning Man is a festival that promotes self-reliance and artistic expression and every year a giant human figure is burned on a dry ancient lake bed known as the playa.

In recent years it has become a popular destination for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Zuckerberg, 29, also attended and pitched his own tent in a camp set up by Moskovitz. But it appears he did not run into the 32-year-old Winklevoss brothers.

Moskovitz appeared to have mixed emotions when he first saw Facebook’s former nemeses, but concluded they had a lot in common.

facebook 2013“In spite of our tangled history I had never actually met them,” he wrote on a blog. “We only communicated through lawyers. These guys are among the only people on Earth I might describe as real antagonists in my life or even enemies, but on playa my first instinct was that I quite obviously needed to introduce myself and start with hugs.

“They had just arrived so I wasn’t sure how they’d react, but they were very gracious at the time and I knew they’d understand more deeply by the time they left. Almost immediately when I got back, I had a Facebook friend request from Tyler and we started a thread mutually extolling the virtues of the festival. In no uncertain terms, he described a spiritual experience.”

He added: “I had created all kinds of dark fantasies about how meeting them would go (Tyler assures me it would have been cordial regardless,) but on playa it was laughably clear. There, we were all part of the same community. We were always part of the same community.”

Mr Moskovitz, a five time veteran of the Burning Man festival, recounted the meeting as he addressed a controversy over the growing number of wealthy individuals attending.

He said the “entrepreneur invaders” would leave with a “decreased interest in zero-sum competition,” which was “great for the world.”

Mr Moskovitz, like Mr Zuckerberg, has taken a pledge to dedicate the majority of his wealth to philanthropy.

He said Mr Zuckerberg was a “guest in the camp I built,” adding: “Along with its other inhabitants, he helped pitch his own tent. I wanted him to experience the city and to experience gifting because I thought it would make him grow as a person, and the world better off as a result. I believe that’s exactly what happened, however marginally (he was already a pretty great person). I’ve seen this occur countless times.”

Billionaires lying awake at night, fantasizing about Winklevi. Pitching tents. Grilled Cheese versus French Toast, the utlimate battle of the Tech Titans.

Here’s some further commentary from Gawker, who point out that when they say “we’re all part of the same community”, does that mean we’re all Harvard alumni? And from the Verge, who think that the hippy dippy love and giving culture of Burning Man, is maybe not 100% compatible with the dog-eat-dog shark tank of Silicon Valley venture capital.

shady waffle double rainbowMuskovitz, who Forbes ranked as their #1 youngest billionaire above Mark Zuckerberg at #2 and company-without-a-business-model-Twitter’s Jack Dorsey at #15, lays it all out in his blog. The inner angst of a nerd, his stock options might be worth a billion and he might be saving the world through project management software, but he’s still dreaming of being “cool” enough to be a Burner.

I knowingly informed n00bs that they couldn’t wear jeans because “the costume cult people will literally yell at you with a megaphone if you do”… but my own clothes were still all wrong. My bike — and generally our entire camp infrastructure — was too new. And I decided I wanted to learn how to spin fire, because the people who did were clearly the most “authentic” group on the playa. If wealthy people are the snobby rich kids of burning man, then fire spinners are most definitely the jocks. Motherfucking fire jocks. “How can I gain credibility?”, I thought over and over. How can I become someone who belongs?

He makes a good point about radical self-reliance being a spectrum that extends infinitely. It’s a goal to be followed, a direction to pursue, not an absolute state that can actually be achieved. Whereas “radical inclusion” is supposed to mean almost everyone:

The animosity towards wealthy burners is supposedly based on the concept that they are violating the core principle of Radical Self-Reliance. People too often lose sight of the fact that this is a directional stance and not something actually achievable. Self-reliance is a fully continuous spectrum that extends in both directions forever. Did you build your camp by yourself? Did you pave the road that led to it? Did you grow your own food? Did you weld the frame giant like 30 ft highof your bike? Did you raise yourself as a baby? Every burner is as radically dependent on the community as they are on themselves. When the Dislocated Hipsters came, most of them lived in RVs. Though this would be considered a cop-out by average burning man standards, it was still incredibly adventurous for them, and they learned e.g., how to start a generator and how to wash your hair with only a few ounces of water. I imagine the experience is somewhat similar for the “turnkey” folks; no matter how much assistance they get, at the very least they still need to learn how to keep themselves hydrated.

The founder of Burning Man, Larry Harvey, has left no room for doubt that he sees the world similarly, and all writings by core members of the org are consistent. Burning Man is for absolutely everyone. Everyone. That’s what Radical Inclusion means. If you’re a starving artist, you should go. (if you want to, of course!) If you’re a plumber, you should go. If you’re a billionaire, you should go. If you’re a Saudi Prince that can only go if a turnkey camp is provided for you, please, please come. I’ll make you a sandwich. If you believe you’re a member of the class of people who actually deserve to be there, well then Idefinitely want you to keep going. One day, you’ll get it. Elitism in all forms distracts us from the truth of our common humanity. I hope someday you will join us, and the world will be as one. 

Oh please.

[Update 8/9/13 17:29 we just heard from Mr DM himself, with some clarifications. Apparently Zuckerberg came last year, not this year like the Huffington Post (Mark Zuckerberg helicoptered into Burning Man Just For One Day), Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail and Business Insider suggested. Allvoices suggested if he DJ’d, he probably played Beyonce and Taylor Swift. Because this happened in 2012, therefore the Like could not POSSIBLY be related to Facebook in any way. The inference is, because the Like (which many Dis-Liked) was crowd-funded, it’s  not possible that any current or former employee of Facebook or Facebook shareholder could have donated to it, everything’s just lots of coincidences, unrelated, nothing to see here, move along. Ummm, YMMV – Whatsblem is trying to get an interview now for further elucidation]

“Re: your most recent snark-post :) I just want to clarify that Zuck came in *2012*. The like button and the helicopter (which was intense!) you saw are unrelated. Also, you managed to spell my name wrong two different ways, which puts you just three shy of the record.”

27 comments on “Airlifting in the CEO Bitches

  1. Pingback: Let’s Take This Show On The Road | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  2. Pingback: What Kunz Permits | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  3. Pingback: Burner Kindles Fire | Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

  4. Pingback: Magic on a Grand Scale | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  5. Pingback: SnapChat CEO’s “perpetually topless” GF is a Burner | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  6. Pingback: Drone Bombardment Develops | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  7. Pingback: Feather Ban Lifted? | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  8. Pingback: Black Hawk Down! Supreme Commander of NATO Visits Burning Man | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  9. I was camped next to a bunch of CEO’s. They had charter air planes fly them in from Reno. Motor homes stocked with food, booze and bikes. Gave them a bit of advise when I first meet them. My camp mates had small encounter with the camp host. They wanted to move a motor home and needed to move some tents or vehicle in our camp to do that. They didn’t want ask a paying customer to move a motor-home in their camp. I guess my camp mates moved a car for them. It was after the burn and when the guy came over I just went to bed. He should have worked it out during the day was my reasoning for not helping and I was tired.

    I think the guy that host the camp and sets up motor homes and theme camp has become a commercial burner. He is in it for the money now and Burning Man has become work and its hard work and I don’t think he loves it. Its not for me!

    The guess I met were friendly enough. The wife/girl friend had fake tits and dressed in pink and just looked a little to clean for me. Cute but not sexy. Really didn’t get to know at all. I didn’t see them create anything or be creative in any way. Hopefully if they come back they will bring something creative and share.

    About me; I am seventeen year burner. I was there before roads, firemen, police or BLM rangers. It used to be a barter economy, I think somebody even sold burgers one year and No Spectators! I fell in love with it.. I don’t like the gifting economy and think the art isn’t has cutting edge has it used to be but the camps are better.

    The reason CEO’s come to BM its the best party in America!

    Like

  10. Pingback: Appreciate the Miracles: Radical Inclusion is not Anti-Elite | Burners.Me Burning Man commentary blog

  11. I think there is a point to drawing a line or standing apart from a society- its celebrities, politicians, corporate leaders, etc-that are destroying the earth through their avarice and greed. Why not stand apart from corporate criminals that have joined hands with the NSA, spread wars, devastation, and misery solely for economic reasons (yet lying about spreading democracy0, and are destroying the environment with an absurd economic system that believe infinite growth is possible on a planet of finite resources?

    The event how now become thoroughly mainstream and has lost a great deal. It may not ever have had much meaning in reality but it did at least stand apart form the society at large. That’s not insignificant.

    The Bmorg like to talk about ‘spreading our culture’, ‘our values’, and other sanctimonious folderol but in reality the event has become so penetrated by the once reviled ‘outside reality’ that the values actually represented and practiced are no different than those of the ‘outside reality’. The ‘outside reality’ won, whatever values the event pretends to value have been thoroughly co-opted. Just like the music I loved during the 60’s that now adorns television commercials.

    Oh well, that’s the way it goes. Pretty much anything of value ends up turned to shit by mainstream US society unless its overseers are diligent and have values beyond fame, notoriety, and money.

    Like

  12. BM can be a life-altering, life-enriching experience for some. For others, it could just be about networking, or bragging rights. You never know til you go. Hopefully the BTDT crowd will be one-timers. Carry on.

    Like

  13. There are WAY more interesting stories. If what we are trying to do is compare our martyrdom sainthood, uh, okay. I’m not seeing this dude as a martyr or a saint or a contributor in any way shape or form, not based on this article or any of the information I’ve read. I’m sorry what was his epiphany during his lengthy stay? And why are we talking about his experience?

    Like

  14. Such boring, dull, little lives, by accident of wealth, have others, far more noble and humane slobbering on themselves to realize that they might have shared the same porto-potty with these freakishly rich nerds…but, in fact it was most probably a “private” shitter they sat their high-toned asses on. “Celebrities” of fame and fortune, do not and never will live in the same world as the rest of us, though they might pretend and desire to be “normal”…not a one of them can open a can of tuna fish with out help.Do not surrender to amazement.

    Like

  15. I think the problem here isn’t Mark Zuc, Or P.Diddy visiting Burning man it is blogs like this reporting on it as if these people were special. If they are burners, future burners or even want to be burners let them burn in piece. Who cares how they got their, or what special treatment they received. And seriously all this reporting is just here say. WHERE ARE THE PHOTOS! There are none. Because all of this is simply advertising trying to come off as inadvertent. And Burners.me is playing along.

    Like

  16. He pitched his own tent? Holy crap, stop the presses. And since when did tickets cost thousands of dollars. They’re already pretty pricey and exclusionary for some, let’s not jump them into the thousands please.

    Like

  17. Burning Man was never a Summer Solstice event. And tickets are either 650 for holiday prices or at the most 380 for the regular sales. Granted, there are shipping fees and what not added to those prices but they DO NOT exceed the thousands. Anyone that pays more than the orginal Burning Man ticket prices buy them off people looking to make a profit!! Scalpers!! Some of this information is wrong!! arg….

    Like

    • Blame the Huffington Post, not Burners.me, for reporting what you perceive to be incorrect information. It does cost thousands of dollars per person to attend, if you don’t understand that you probably got your burn gifted to you by some rich dude.

      Like

      • Nice tone you got there. the article clearly states that ticket prices have soared to the thousands and not about how much it costs to put on the event and to have one person there. Of course an event of this magnitude is going to cost more than an arm and a leg to have people out there and that’s not including the constant legal issues. I understand this perfectly well as I put on events and pay my own way each time I go to Burning Man. I was merely commenting that the statement regarding ticket prices is incorrect and I also understand that was the Huffington Post and not Burners.me, made most obvious by the italic font after the mention of the Huffington Post report.

        Like

      • https://burners.me/2013/06/19/conspiracy-theories-meet-burning-man/
        …there’s a story with a graph of ticket prices on the secondary market during 2012 (when the event was sold out, and the population was much less). As you can see, ticket prices soared over $1000 on the after-market. We told you there could be more tickets, the prices started to plummet; Burning Man panicked when prices looked like they’d collapse back below $1000, insisted there’d be no more tickets, and sent the price back up for a while; then announced more tickets. At the end, tickets were going below face value or even free. Just like this year.
        There were some tickets going above $1000 this year, but not many, and I doubt that anyone was dumb enough to buy them. However Burning Man’s first release of tickets for Cargo Cult was priced at $650, so technically $1300 for “tickets” ie. more than 1; no word yet on what they’ll be for next year.

        Like

  18. In my experience from being neighbor to Playaskool this year, they are much less invested in the neighborhood or the community, than they are in their paying customers. Horrible music blasted for 8 hours straight at 120 decibels, putting their water trucks on their neighbors property, big trucks and heavy equipment driving in and out 24/7, reducing the whole portal to dunes of powdery dust, driving back and forth to the airport many times per day and somehow not being required to have a DMV sticker…. how does all that benefit the community as a whole? They’rs camp was nothing but a parking lot to their duck art car, which never worked, and so was towed around the playa by a heavy equipment fork lift.. how do they merit Esplanade frontage? What was 24/7 interactive about their camp? Nothing.

    Like

Share your thoughts with us

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s