back to

Silicon Valley's creepy "Startup Castle"


The news and culture website Fusion recently reported on Silicon Valley’s “Startup Castle,” an intentional community of internet entrepreneurs and computer programmers who reside in a mansion near Stanford University. Startup Castle was founded by John Lakness, a former Chippendales dancer and NATO Special Operations Command worker, who has bizarre and stringent requirements for potential residents—requirements that typify the “progressive” yet conformist culture of Silicon Valley:

– Have a top-class degree or job with a strong math/science requirement
– Exercise at least 15 hours in a normal week
– Commute by car less than 20% of the time (Bicycle commuter!)
– Prefer organized systems and common rules
– Like petting dogs

Former residents of the Startup Castle have begun speaking out, and their stories are just as strange as you would expect:

Imagine one day having your bed converted into a bunk bed without your consent. Being promised food to be included in the fee you pay only to be yelled at when the food runs out. Witnessing an ex-military dude marching around the house yelling at people who didn’t “keep their shit clean enough”. Being chastised for not organizing events for the house. Being drawn in to long, inappropriately misogynistic, conversations about sex. Witnessing former room-mates being treated unfairly when they try to terminate their contracts and leave the house.

I think one of the house managers John and Katie hired last year put it best:

“This place is a prison. It’s like living in the Hotel California, except we can’t even drink wine here.”

Image via CNN