For some reason, the celebrity factor at Burning Man this year is generating more interest than in previous years. We’ve already covered the Facebook founders/Winklevi hug-fest, and the foreclosure-fuelled French Toast. Paris Hilton tweeted about the festival on August 26, though it’s not known if she actually attended this year. The New York Times asked “is Burning Man the new golf”? Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell likens it to a “corporate retreat”, where you can do a deal with Yahoo’s lawyer or get a job offer from Larry and Sergey. SFGate tells the story of the Shaker deal with Menlo Ventures, featuring Burning Man’s Social Alchemist Bear Kittay and one of the first VCs in space, that went down right outside my RV a couple of years ago. 3% of $15 million is $450,000, more money that the BLM is missing out on. Although I don’t think the Playa is a great place for due diligence, so probably not quite so many deals actually get closed out there. The VC involved had to leave before the Burn as he was in the middle of closing an $800 million deal, and borrowing my satellite phone wasn’t going to be enough – maybe he got the memo that the Feds would be looking for a cut, and fled to Vegas or back to the relative safety of the Bay?
The Daily Mail has a new story talking about the visit paid to Burning Man this year by General Wesley Clark, the former Supreme Commander of NATO and the guy who led the US forces when they bombed Kosovo. Presumably he’s responsible for the military helicopter that hovered over then slowly circled the Playa, seemingly in the direction of Disorient. He’s also famous for saying “they’re going after Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran” in a Bush administration plan for Serial War in the months after 9/11. Pretty much as close to a whistleblower as a top 4-star General is ever going to get. Recently the 68-year old General Clark ended his marriage and took up with a 30-year old girlfriend, although it’s unclear if she attended the festival with him or if he was free range.
The story is interesting mostly for the phenomenal collection of photos.