$40 million for the venue. $2,000 for the tickets. $12,000 for a 10 person dome.
It sounds like something only the Illuminati could have dreamt up, but it's not: these are the prices of one of the tech industry's latest conferences atop a snowy mountain in Utah, in a spot aptly named "Eden." The craziest part? People actually paid these prices. About 850 people, to be exact.
Thanks to a post by one of the attendees, Courtney Boyd Myers, outsiders (i.e., us) can get a peek inside this tightly bound event in Eden, where, as Myers describes, "the world’s most Internet-addicted human beings," all gathered for a weekend retreat that looked more like a lavish cult meeting under the umbrella of a holiday getaway. The event was hosted by Summit, a entrepreneurial events group, that purchased the top of Powder Mountain for $40 million (they literally own the top of a mountain), just for events like this one. The key theme for their events being: exclusivity. And attendees know it.
"While Summit is often knocked for being exclusive," Myers writes, "its curated community creates an environment for some of the world’s most ambitious people to open up professionally, emotionally and physically."
The world's most ambitious people. Tone down on the modesty there, Myers.
If the spot being named "Eden" wasn't enough of a biblical reference for you, perhaps this Tom Cruise-like rant about the paradise they're creating will do it for you: “It’s going to be a place on Earth
The people who need love will end up here.
that becomes a sacred space for growth and development,” said Nicole Patrice De Member, the founder of Toi.
"The people who need love will end up here. We want the world to be a part of this. It’s not a secret journey, but you still have to go on that journey to get here.”
If you want to play with us, you're going to have to become us.
“Our goal is to create a center of gravity for the innovators, entrepreneurs, and thought-leaders of the world,” said Summit co-founder Jeremy Schwartz. You can just smell the smugness here.
Aside from receiving free Nike Fuelbands, headlights, tin cups and camouflage backpacks for "carrying around their new Tom’s sunglasses," the attendees also had a private Thievery Corporation concert and a knot-tying workshop led by Philippe Petit—the freakin' guy that tight-roped across the World Trade Center towers.
While at Summit Eden, guests cut off their Wi-Fi connections, and disconnected themselves from the outside world—disconnected themselves from the "others," both physically and digitally.
The world of tech startups is a live and let die battlefield, where, quite literally, only the strong survive. They become rich, they become powerful, and yes, it might be nice to get together and throw extravagent parties with other rich people. That's what the rich do. Sometimes, though, gatherings of like-minded people can cross the divide into something else entirely, as apparent in another moment Myers describes:
"The first night of Summit Outside I stood next to a stranger as we waited for our camp mates. I said 'Hi' and gave him a warm hug the way you might a friend. He said, 'Thank you, I really needed that.' He then told me his father had just passed away that morning. And instead of canceling plans to be with his immediate family, he decided that his first step towards healing was to be with his Summit family."
Startups aim to create technology that ultimately connects the world together, but one of their first steps shouldn't be shutting themselves off from the rest of us. When it leads to cutting off family, the divide has been crossed.