September 15, 2013

Hacker House dies from excessive self-image, brand overexposure

Almost exactly a year ago, we took a look at group housing as not just a way to save on rent, but as launching pad to future success.  Some of these homes were in San Francisco, some were in Silicon Valley.  The most well-known one in the Valley might have been the Rainbow Mansion.  Of course, it has a website.

Now Buzzfeed has a fairly longish piece on the implosion of a shared SF house that saw itself as more than just a bunch of geeks splitting the rent.  Or an “intentional community.” Burbed readers, meet the Rise mansion, formerly known as TheGlint. Right, no space. Thanks very much to Burbed reader nomadic for alerting us to this story.

The Rise And Fall Of A Startup Mansion

130914-rise-viewStartups, pizza, ego, beer, filth. The collapse of a hacker house and the battle for Silicon Valley’s soul.

Justine Shamrocks, BuzzFeed Staff, posted on August 26, 2013 at 2:20pm EDT

When William Hsu first moved to San Francisco to work in startups, he got a one-bedroom apartment. “I thought that was the adult thing to do, the thing I was supposed to do,” Hsu says. “But it kind of sucked actually to go home and no one was there. It was kind of depressing.” He missed college. Like many other young techies, his career development was outpacing his social development.

Instead of just getting roommates, he applied to live with 15 other guys at a San Francisco “startup mansion,” which he later went on to run. As more and more young techies like Hsu move into the notoriously expensive city, these “hacker houses” are becoming a rising trend. Varying in size from about 5 to 20 people, they are sort of commune-meets-incubator-meets-dorm. Each has its own vibe, reflecting the different sub-scenes of the of the tech world from visionaries to brogrammers, grad students to hackers, as well as people working at big companies. Some houses are more established and formal; others, chiefly casual.

I first heard about Hsu’s house when I saw the Craigslist ad for the “Live/Work Startup Mansion with sweeping views of San Francisco!” looking to add “cool new people.”

“Come check it out, seriously,” the ad said.

130914-rise-craigslistThe Craigslist ad pointed to this Business Insider writeup, which was essentially a photo diary about where several of Peter Thiel’s Fellows ended up.

Shared housing in a place of high rental costs is nothing new. What is different was when a group of people sharing a bigger than normal house begin to have bigger than normal ideas about what they’re actually doing.

Much bigger than normal:

"The truth is that The Glint is a live-work community that accelerates the creation and creators of value through design, philosophy, the arts & sciences, technology and entrepreneurship. It aspires to shift the conception of heroism from historical warrior ideals to a new paradigm of creativity, collaboration and innovation"

And if you think that’s bad, their two-word tagline for the group home was “Heroism Accelerator.”

That’s going to need the “ginormous” tag all by itself.  Which it isn’t going to earn according to Redfin.

130914-rise-streetview170 Saint Germain Ave
San Francisco, CA 94114
Sold for $1,400,000

4 Beds
3 Baths
4,300 Sq. Ft.
$326 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1938
Lot Size: 4,996 Sq. Ft.
Sold On: Jun 5, 2003
Status: Sold Source: Public Records

And yes, we realize this doesn’t bear a lot of resemblance to the photos in the article, which is why we doublechecked a bit. And this Bing bird’s eye image (right) looks more like the one in the story (left).

130914-rise-bf-craigslist130914-rise-birdseye“One of my jokes for a while was that the whole point of TheGlint was to save the planet, at least according to them. But they couldn’t even save the house,” Gooen says. “Imagine taking the most successful CEOs and putting them in a house together in a reality TV show to organize the dishes and house maintenance. That was almost what it was like. Although they were not as successful. They just thought they were.”

130914-rise-getshitdoneHah.  This is still before TheGlint was shut down and two renters took over the lease and rebranded the house as Rise. Now instead of “changing the planet,” they just wanted to network the heck out of each other.

Hilarity ensues.

This is also your Weekend Open Thread. Ever live in a group house?  Did you ever actually “Get Sh*t Done”?

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 7:07 am

3 Responses to “Hacker House dies from excessive self-image, brand overexposure”

  1. nomadic Says:

    The article clearly didn’t amuse anyone, but the Zillow page might. Last on the market in 2011 for $3.7M after being reduced from $4.5M earlier in the year. That was a healthy gain over the 2003 purchase price. Now the Zestimate is over $5.6M.

    Also check out the rather lengthy (is that you, madhaus?) description that even includes the time to get to various SF points of interest.

  2. Steve Tyler Says:

    Hey, I found the article amusing! Dotcom implosion 2.0 in 3, 2, 1, …

  3. Reader Request: Live/Work Situation [Burbed.com] Says:

    […] didn’t we just discuss hacker houses last week? Why, yes we did! Perhaps the above email was in response to our in-depth coverage of […]


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