Elon Musk and other guests dispute that a notorious Silicon Valley gathering was a 'sex party': 'Nerds on a couch are not a cuddle puddle'

Business Insider | Jan 12, 2018, 11.58PM IST

elon musk spacex tesla

Rich Polk/Getty Images for LACMA

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX.

  • Attendees of a now-notorious Silicon Valley party described as a "sex party" are disputing its characterization by "Brotopia" author Emily Chang.
  • Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk said: "If there are 'sex parties' in Silicon Valley, I haven't seen or heard of one."
  • Another attendee confirmed there was a "cuddle space," but said she napped there without any issues and felt safe throughout the party.

Some attendees of a now-notorious Silicon Valley event are disputing its characterisation as a "sex party" by author Emily Chang in her upcoming book "Brotopia" - with Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk saying that "nerds on a couch are not a 'cuddle puddle.'"

The June 2017 event was an evening party at the home of Steve Jurvetson, then an investor at venture capital firm DFJ. It was first highlighted earlier this month in an extract from journalist Emily Chang's forthcoming book on tech industry culture, "Brotopia," in which she cites an anonymous source describing drug-taking and open sexual behaviour at the event.

Musk's spokesperson first confirmed to Business Insider that the famous entrepreneur was in attendance - but that 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 given to Wired, Musk attacked Chang's reporting as "salacious nonsense" and "misleading." He wrote (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 disputed the media portrayal of the event.

Steve Jurvetson

Getty/Steve Jennings

Steve Jurvetson.

In a tweet, entrepreneur and former Facebook and Google executive Mary Lou Jepsen wrote: "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, wrote on social media that she was there until 5 a.m. and saw no sex or nudity, and "almost no cuddling, and the cuddling that I saw (and we're talking maximally tame, here) was almost entirely between people who were obviously couples."

She confirmed there was a "cuddle space," but that she "laid down and napped on-and-off for the last few hours I was there" and she wasn't bothered by anyone.

In a blog post published earlier this week, entrepreneur Paul Biggar said he didn't see any "sex or drugs," but highlighted it was an official party organised by DFJ. He raised concerns about the potential for abuse and exploitation, questioned the necessity of a "cuddle puddle" at a company party. "Not that sex is bad, nor that sex parties are bad. 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," he wrote.

In Chang's account, relayed to her by an anonymous "Jane Doe" at the party, the journalist wrote:

"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 provided to Business Insider, a spokesperson for DFJ 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. 

It added: "The decisive action we've taken in recent months reflects our steadfast commitment to our values" - a potential reference to the fact that Steve Jurvetson, the host of the party, left DFJ in November 2017 following an investigation into his personal conduct, Recode reported at the time.

The spokesperson for DFJ declined to specify exactly what took place at the event.

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