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EMAILED ON September 6, 2017 BY THE HUSTLE

Burning Man: Where founders spend insane amounts to “free their spirits”

Burning Man just wrapped up its 31st year in the desert.

The festival found its beginnings in 1986 as a group of counterculture artists and hippies burning a wooden statue on a beach in San Francisco in the spirit of inclusion. Since then, it’s morphed into a who’s-who of Silicon Valley elites.

Tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page now flock to the 70k-person event in the inhospitable Nevada desert…

But they’re not exactly “roughing it”

The concept of Burning Man is that participants build and deconstruct an entire city in the desert over a month. But most elaborate setups tend to be constructed by those who have the time and money to do so — or can pay people to build it for them.

And many of these camps are exclusive, like the $165k-per-head party one VC threw for his 50th birthday, complete with paid models and wristbands.

In 2016, 27% of Burners surveyed made over $100k, and 4% made over $300k — thanks largely to the influx of high-earning attendees like Elon Musk, who claim that Burning Man “is Silicon Valley.” That’s up from 14% and 2%, respectively, a decade ago.

But ya know what’s even more “Silicon Valley?”

The number of founders attending Burning Man while their startups go up in flames.

Case-in-point: The founder of Juicero ($700 wi-fi powered juicer we talked about yesterday), who Instagrammed this picture of himself in a tutu in the desert… the same day his company shut down.