Home > musing, news > How to be a pickup artist, Silicon Valley style

How to be a pickup artist, Silicon Valley style

August 13, 2013

You know that feeling you get when you’re reading an disembodied article on the web and it’s just so ridiculous, you get the creeping sensation that it’s either from The Onion or the Borowitz Report?

That is, I would suggest, how you’re going to feel when you read this article about a school for Silicon Valley style entrepreneurship (hat tip Peter Woit). Even just the name of the school – the Draper University of Heroes – feels like an Onion article, never mind the visuals:

Students in class at the Draper University of Heroes

Students in class at the Draper University of Heroes

So, what do these young people learn do to become douchebag heros? Here’s what:

  • They pledge allegiance every morning to their personal brands,
  • They submit to a full two days of coding and excel lessons,
  • Then they get down to the real work of sun tanning by the pool and go-kart racing,
  • They hang out with VC Tim Draper, an investor in Tesla (the new conspicuous consumption choice among pseudo-progressive capitalists, as I learned at FOO),
  • They read books, or at least they own books, including Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal, The Wall Street MBA, and Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead,
  • and all this for just $9,500 for an eight week program!

How does it end? From the article:

In lieu of diplomas, Draper U. students receive masks and capes printed with their superhero nicknames and are instructed to jump on each of a series of three small trampolines placed in a line in front of them. While bouncing from trampoline to trampoline, they’re told to shout, “Up, up, and away!” Then they assemble for a group photo.

“The world needs more heroes,” Draper says. “And it just got 40 more of them!”

Here’s the thing. It’s no accident that there are way more men than women here. This school is very similar in design and intent to the society built by Neil Strauss, who wrote The Game and taught a bunch of guys how to pick up “hot” women for sex – Aunt Pythia discussed it here.

Why do I say that? Because it’s fundamentally a confidence-boosting ritual, where a bunch of guys convince themselves that their prospects are good, their goals are attainable, their narcissistic world view is honorable, and it’s just a question of acquiring the right magic tricks to entrap their prey. It just happens to be about money instead of sex in this case.

There is a difference, of course. Whereas the pick up artists only needed to trick drunk women for a few hours in order to sleep with them, these “Silicon Valley Heroes” have to trick way more people for way longer that they should get investment. That doesn’t make it impossible for something like this to work, though, just harder.

Categories: musing, news
  1. rob
    August 13, 2013 at 9:07 am

    What next? Correspondence School for Wannabe Whistleblowers (run by the CIA)? American Idol Competition for Revolutionary Product Marketing (1st prize to the most self-promotion using someone else’s branding and ideas)? Three-week course on how to create a social movement (how not to repeat what the public has already expressed to its satisfaction; how not to demoralize the public with small numbers at protests; how to give the public some enduring benefit). Well, one of those might actually be useful.


  2. Josh
    August 13, 2013 at 11:57 am

    This subject co0nnects to yesterday’s. With crowdfunding allowed by the J.0.- BS.Act, (not be confused with something that would create actual jobs) the ability to tell a good story becomes more important than the ability to devise a good business plan.

    The overconfident taking money from the gullible.


  3. James N.
    August 13, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    It sounds an awful lot like the overconfident already have. I can dress in a super hero outfit and jump on a trampoline for free. I don’t need some VC jagoff taking $9,500 of my money to do that.

    Personally, I think this is lovely. People who want to, um, seduce people out of their money get seduced out of their own money. The old con-within-a-con routine.


  4. August 14, 2013 at 1:17 am

    Why do I see only two females in a sea of testosterone (and acne)?


  5. Tweedledumb
    August 14, 2013 at 5:39 am

    Please see the film “School for Scoundrels” with a very scary Billy Bob Thornton!


  1. August 14, 2013 at 8:18 am
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