Inside the Epic Festival Silicon Valley’s Elite is Obsessed With

Burning Man is the annual epic festival that combines art, technology, fashion anarchy, partying, drugs, free expression, self-realization and religious experiences into an experimental, innovative and temporary community established in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada.

Every year, Burning Man takes place between the last Monday in August to the first Monday in September (which is Labor Day) and now attracts almost 70,000 people a year.

A photo posted by Burning Man (@burningman) on Jun 9, 2015 at 7:56pm PDT

Tickets to this year’s Burning Man cost just over $390, not including the $50 vehicle pass (if you intend to drive), hundreds of dollars in plane tickets (if you can’t drive), food and accommodations, which can range from a simple tent to a more luxurious RV.  

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Black Rock City includes two public libraries that attendees can actually check books out of, a media center, a police station, bars, clubs, restaurants and a medical facility that even has X-ray machines to check for broken bones. All of these amenities are included within the ticket price.

Burning Man first started in 1986 on Baker Beach in San Francisco when founder Larry Harvey and a group of friends built a small structure resembling a man and burned it.

A photo posted by Burning Man (@burningman) on Aug 25, 2015 at 4:15pm PDT

Having just gone through an emotional breakup, he was symbolically burning away his old self. The festival later moved to Nevada as the event grew in size.

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Burning Man is governed by 10 principles, among which are “radical inclusion,” meaning everyone is accepted, “decommodification,” which seeks to establish a community free of commercial transactions, and “leaving no trace,” where everyone in the community respects the environment and cleans up after themselves.

A photo posted by Sara Sampaio (@sarasampaio) on Sep 10, 2015 at 4:54am PDT

Burning Man has long attracted Silicon Valley’s elite, which include Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Tesla Motors and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Dropbox founder Drew Houston and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

A photo posted by KATY PERRY (@katyperry) on Sep 8, 2015 at 7:05pm PDT

Larry Page and Sergey Brin hired Eric Schmidt, now-chairman of Alphabet Inc., partly because he went to Burning Man.

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A photo posted by Burning Man (@burningman) on Mar 26, 2015 at 10:08pm PDT

According to Fast Company, Brin said: “Larry and I searched for over a year, and managed to alienate 50 of the top executives in Silicon Valley. Eric was experienced and the only one who went to Burning Man. Which we thought was an important criterion. He’s a great cultural fit. We hang out together. We discuss and decide on stuff together. More companies should look at cultural fit.”

Elon Musk developed the idea for SolarCity, the leading supplier of residential solar energy in California, while at Burning Man. Musk, who is the company chairman, later gave the idea to his cousins Lyndon, now the CEO, and Peter Rive, now the CTO.

A photo posted by Hadrien Le Roy (@neirdah) on Sep 7, 2015 at 8:39pm PDT

Musk is known to have said, “Burning Man is Silicon Valley.” He once criticized HBO’s “Silicon Valley” creator Mike Judge for not being authentic enough because he never attended Burning Man.

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A photo posted by Janey B (@hello_janey) on Sep 10, 2015 at 10:23pm PDT

Musk said: “If you haven’t been, you just don’t get it. You could take the craziest L.A. party and multiply it by a thousand, and it doesn’t even get fucking close to what’s in Silicon Valley.”

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