The Billionaires at Burning Man
"For his 50th birthday, Jim Tananbaum, chief executive officer of Foresite Capital, threw himself an extravagant party at Burning Man, the annual sybaritic arts festival and all-hours rave that attracts 60,000-plus to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada over the week before Labor Day. Tananbaum’s bash went so well, he decided to host an even more elaborate one the following year. In 2014 he’d invite up to 120 people to join him at a camp that would make the Burning Man experience feel something like staying at a pop-up W Hotel. To fund his grand venture, he’d charge $16,500 per head...
For 2014, Tananbaum wanted a camp that was aesthetically novel, ecologically conscious, and exceedingly comfortable. In the spring he and his team sent out a detailed invitation, enticing potential guests with an early vision of the camp, named Caravancicle. Anyone concerned about living in a hot, unforgiving wilderness could rest assured. There would be no roughing it at Caravancicle. Accommodations would consist of a series of cubical tents with carbon fiber skeletons. Each cube would have 9-foot ceilings, comfortable bedding, and air conditioning. The surrounding camp, enclosed by high walls, would be safe and private. Amenities would include a central lounge housed in a geodesic dome, private showers and toilets, solar panels, wireless Internet, and a 24-hour bar. Guests could count on a “full-service” staff, who would among other things help create “handcrafted, artisanal popsicles” to offer passers-by. To help blend in with the Burning Man regulars, who tend to parade around the commons in wild, racy outfits (if anything at all), the camp would include an entire shipping container full of costumes....
For Tananbaum, his improbable journey from the precincts of the East Coast Establishment to the inner circle of one of San Francisco’s great countercultural institutions appeared complete. As it turned out, the honeymoon was short-lived."
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