Economics/Class Relations

Panic and insecurity in Silicon Valley

Nicholas Carlson  November 17, 2022


Hello, Insiders. Have you seen the wild DMs between Sam Bankman-Fried and Vox reporter Kelsey Piper? It’s all I’m seeing on Twitter this morning. The exchange offers a window into SBF’s unfiltered views on regulators and the collapse of FTX. “You know what was maybe my single biggest fuckup?” he wrote via DM, referring to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

It’s required reading for anyone following the current crypto carnage. We have some of the highlights here, and you can check out the full article (including screenshots) over at Vox. But now, let’s get back to what’s going on at Insider. It’s a busy day, and we have some real doozies for you.

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The latest
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The big story
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Billionaires like Elon Musk want to save civilization by having tons of genetically superior kids.


In the 2010s, the longevity craze hit Silicon Valley. Titans like Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, and Larry Ellison poured billions into trying to defy death. Now, there’s another underground movement taking hold: “pronatalism.”


The concept is often associated with religious extremism, but this version trends towards dystopian sci-fi.


Pronatalists fear that falling birthrates could lead to the collapse of civilization. It’s a theory Musk has championed on his Twitter feed, which makes sense as he’s the tech world’s highest-profile pronatalist, albeit unofficially.


They believe it’s their duty to fill the earth with their children — and some are funding new technologies to make it possible. The movement is a political minefield, as the last major figure associated with pronatalism was Jeffrey Epstein, and genetic screening often invites comparisons to Nazi eugenic experiments.


“We are the Underground Railroad of ‘Gattaca’ babies and people who want to do genetic stuff with their kids,” a self-proclaimed pronatalist told correspondent Julia Black.


Read our full report here.

Top reads
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  • Skip a pricey international trip and visit one of these European-inspired towns in the US. Airfare prices are high this holiday season — and expected to climb even higher as year-end travel kicks in. From a spot in Utah known as “Little Switzerland” to a taste of Provence in Virginia, check out these seven US cities this winter.
  • A Silicon Valley therapist says she’s never seen so much panic and insecurity. Having practiced in the Bay Area for the past decade, around 50% of Annie Wright’s patients work in tech — at companies like Facebook, Netflix, and Google. She’s seen the industry’s rapid expansion first-hand. And amid the new mass layoffs, the climate has shifted. Read what she says about the new atmosphere of fear.
  • What it was like growing up on a $23 million compound, according to the Yankee Candle founder’s daughter. 19-year-old Kylie Kittredge grew up on a Massachusetts estate, complete with an arcade and indoor water park. A listing for the home went viral in September. (See it here.) Read what Kylie says about life at the compound.
  • Top lawyer Bryan Freedman paid a $40,000 settlement after being accused of gang-raping a 17-year-old while in college. Freedman, 58, is one of Hollywood’s most celebrated attorneys. He’s represented Kevin Spacey and Diplo amid sexual-abuse scandals. In 1986, he was among three fraternity brothers accused of sexual assault. (Attorneys for Freedman and other defendants said in court filings it was consensual.) Read the full report.
Today’s sound bite
A British astronomer says she’s been locked out of her Twitter account for months after sharing a six-second animated video of a meteor shower.
Hear the latest headlines on today’s episode of The Refresh from Insider.
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Today’s team
This edition was curated by Nicholas Carlson (@nichcarlson), and edited by Hallam Bullock (@hallam_bullock), Lisa Ryan (@lisarya), and Shona Ghosh (@shonaghosh).
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