Skip to navigationSkip to content
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Eric Schmidt has seen the future, and it involves goggles.
HOW THE 1% PARTIES

Photos: Further Future, Silicon Valley’s ultra-exclusive response to the Burning Man festival

Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

It’s been called the “Burning Man for the 1%” by its own attendees.

Further Future, a music festival and technology conference, hosted its second annual gathering in the desert about an hour outside of Las Vegas late last month. Apparently unsatisfied with trying to bring pampering and luxury to the dusty, neon bartering society that pops up in Nevada at the Burning Man festival every summer, the elite of Silicon Valley decided to create a separate event, espousing similar values to those of Burning Man, but with wifi.

Since it ended the organizers and others have been posting images to Facebook and Instagram, and we’ve selected a few here to give a sense of how the Valley lets off steam.

While the aesthetic is very much Burning Man (think dust goggles, big boots, and steampunk-ish outfits), the entertainment is decidedly a level above. According to the Guardian’s Nellie Bowles, this year’s festival included $250 dinners hosted by Nobu chefs, $7 half-mangoes, and $5,000 camper vans to rent, and was patronized by such people as Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt.

“The future’s driven by people with an alternative world view,” Schmidt told Bowles. “This is a high percentage of San Francisco entrepreneurs, and they tend to be winners. It’s a curated, self-selected group of adults who have jobs. You can tell by the percentage of trailers.”

Just how much is curation and how much self-selection isn’t entirely clear. To buy a ticket—which costs $400 for the full weekend, according to the event’s ticketing page, about the same as a week at Burning Man—you need to apply for an invitation. But once you get one, as the page explains, ”all tickets to the event carry the same rights and privileges. Everyone is VIP in the Further Future.” How egalitarian.

Schmidt, standing with French entrepreneur Loïc Le Meur and a man in a vest made of feathers, appeared to have borrowed a hat from Slash, the guitarist from Guns ‘n’ Roses, and a vest from the Ice Queen. Pairs well with business casual.

There were care packages for attendees, which included Kettle chips and mouthwash.

During musical sets, there was no lounging around on old beanbags or, heaven forbid, in the dust. No: pillow-top mattresses.

There were rest areas that seemed plucked from an airport’s upper-class lounge.

Food trucks for bites on the go.

And high-concept raindrop cake deserts for those looking for something a little more classy.

Unfortunately for some, they would’ve missed out on that Nobu offer.

There were hangover kits for revelers who partied a little too hard.

Perhaps after imbibing too much sake.

The camp looked like an early prototype of Elon Musk’s future Mars colonies.

Replete with rather futuristic looking tents.

Burning Man chic was the predominant aesthetic…

…as well as some outfits that were perhaps a little too… nice to bring to Burning Man.

Some festival goers had some very aerodynamic headgear.

Remember: Schmidt emphasized that these are people with jobs.

Morning meditation is, of course, de rigeur.

While the event’s price is prohibitive for many humans, robots are apparently welcome to attend.

Some took the “future” theme more seriously than others.

Must be hard to Snapchat with those gloves on.

Early VR simulator prototype.

Startup team photos are getting zanier every year.

And the sponsorship package pretty much sums it all up.

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.