"One of the largest estates in Silicon Valley with everything you need to live and launch your greatest ambitions." That description of the place called Startup Castle in Woodside might be more accurate if your ambitions were to live in a very beautiful jail.
"Huge spaces for living, working, and entertaining," the promotion continues, "Includes a ballroom, 100-seat theater, bar and lounge for entertaining, full gym with professional equipment, co-working offices, and conference rooms."
The requirements to live among the chosen ones of the Startup Castle are proscriptive in the extreme, as we noted last week. You may not have more than one tattoo or have attended more than one protest, and, perhaps most bizarrely of all, you can't "have been prescribed anything by a psychiatrist more than once."
When Fusion originally reported the story, there was an influx of what basically amounted to cries for help or strong warnings to stay away. They got some details about John Lakness, one of the founders of the Startup Castle. And as it turns out, he's a former Chippendales dancer as well as NATO Special Operations Command worker. And he appeared in a single episode of a pirate-themed reality show.
One Quora user who stepped forward says he lived in the Startup Castle while Lakness was captaining the ship says that his bed was turned into a bunkbed without permission, food supplies would run out, and that people were generally mistreated. He added, "I think one of the house managers John and Katie hired last year put it best: this place is a prison. It’s like living in the Hotel California, except we can’t even drink wine here.”"
"I stayed at the House in September and October via Airbnb," says one woman in the Fusion comments section. "Crazy doesn’t even scratch the surface. Some of the residents are interesting, but the level of personal dysfunction in the folks running the show creates a hostile environment... John hopes to create a quasi-military situation in the civilian world. Jam on technical stuff with a common mission. Okay, fair enough. But he has no mission. He clearly wanted to be a leader, but he demonstrated no vision and was prone to temper tantrums (actually throwing stuff throughout the house, many days 3:30-5p). His not-a-girlfriend who thinks she’s his fiancee only added to the crazy.
And it sounds like we were right about the sexist bit. "I wish them no harm, but this house is not safe for women. It is best for 20-25 year old men who would dedicate their lives to fighting COBRA."