Aug 23 • 1HR 3M

Dogfood Your Ideals (w/Ellen Huet)

Ellen Huet, Bloomberg's expert on WeWork, joins Dead Cat

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A podcast about Silicon Valley, hosted by newsletter writer Eric Newcomer and Tom Dotan, with Katie Benner as a regular special guest.
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Will Marc Andreessen dogfood Adam Neumann’s new real estate startup Flow?

Andreessen once lent his celebrity to the audio app Clubhouse — until his eponymous venture capital firm abandoned its effort to will Clubhouse into being by spewing startup thought leadership.

Will Andreessen be willing to run the same playbook for Flow, Neumann’s new rental real estate company?

When is the last time, Andreessen — who called renting an apartment a “soulless experience” — actually lived in a rental? Is he willing to give up his $177 million Malibu compound for the shared amenities of a Flow? Andreessen doesn’t even seem willing to embrace urban density where it might affect him — he and his wife wrote a letter expressing their “IMMENSE objection to the creation of multifamily overlay zones in Atherton.”

On this week’s Dead Cat, co-host Tom Dotan observed that much of Silicon Valley’s upper crust seems unwilling to put their values into action when it comes to residential real estate: “They’re not going to dogfood it, right? They’re not going to be using their own products in order to fix this larger issue.”

I replied, “The whole tech philosophy is dogfood your product — suffer through your terrible tech product that you’re trying to force on the world. And they won’t even dogfood the world that they want, which is a dense urban life.”

My former open office neighbor at Bloomberg, Ellen Huet, came on Dead Cat to talk about Neumann’s new company and Andreessen’s nimbyism. Huet wrote about WeWork for Bloomberg, hosted a podcast about Neumann, chronicled housing opposition in Atherton, and now is writing a book about an alleged sex cult called “OneTaste.” She also spent many years living in an intentional living community in San Francisco. So you can fairly say that she has stared deeply into Neumann’s soul.

We start off the episode talking about the Andreessens’ opposition to new housing in Atherton. Then about halfway through, we get into Flow.

Update: I tweaked the episode audio slightly to remove the claim that Adam Neumann engaged in self-dealing at WeWork. There is some debate as to whether Neumann can be fairly accused of self-dealing or merely related-party transactions that attracted criticism. While WeWork has reportedly been investigated for Neumann’s alleged self-dealing and WeWork critics certainly raised questions about related-party transactions, I don’t want to get dragged into a fight about whether self-dealing is only a legal term of art or if it is also a synonym in common parlance for questionable related-party transactions. So I have updated the episode.

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