Among the 70,000 or so people who will make the trip to Black Rock City, Nevada, this weekend for the start of Burning Man will be some of the most influential people in Silicon Valley.
Every year, some of tech's top execs join the annual festival, dressing in shiny costumes and exploring the art installations just like everyone else.
The unwritten rules of the festival encourage anonymity and privacy. But the attendance of some of the CEOs and founders has been revealed by one of their enthusiastic peers on Medium. And many members of the tech elite have found their time on the playa — Burning Man speak for the dusty dry lake bed where the festival takes place — so life-changing that they couldn't help but speak about it publicly.
While nicknames and creative costumes often make it difficult to know if you've run into someone famous at the festival, a little knowledge can go a long way. These are the powerful techies known to hang out in Black Rock City.
Who knows? You might just run into one of them on one of the festival's famous art cars.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX
Not only has Musk taken more than one pilgrimage to Black Rock City, he's also gone on the record touting the annual art festival as an integral part of Silicon Valley culture.
Musk has even been spotted covered in dust at In-n-Out, a popular stop for Burning Man attendees seeking their first post-festival meal. The restaurant draws crowds in no small part because of its proximity to both the freeway and the event.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page, founders of Google
Brin and Page have reportedly attended the event repeatedly over the years, enthusiastically. To disguise their identities, they've worn full spandex body suits, according to published reports. And they've encouraged Google employees to attend, even running a free shuttle bus to the event.
But no anecdote captures Google's relationship to Burning Man quite like the story of Brin's separation from 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki.
The couple separated in 2013 because Brin was having an affair with one of his employees, Amanda Rosenberg. After initially keeping the separation secret, Brin reportedly decided to publicly reveal it before that year's Burning Man, because he planned to attend the event with Rosenberg.
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google's Alphabet
It's not hard to find photos of Schmidt in the sort of Mad Max-meets-clown attire that is so common at the festival. But attending Burning Man hasn't always been a chance for Schmidt to get in touch with his wild side.
Brin, Page and Schmidt have all said publicly that Schmidt worked his way into the Google CEO job while networking at the festival. Google's founders reportedly picked Schmidt because his love for the event indicated he would fit in well with Google's culture.
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