What to Buy to Look Like: A Venture Capitalist in Silicon Valley

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Silicon Valley. Photo: HBO

Status can be a funny thing. Of course, its most obvious iteration comes with shiny hardware and easily recognizable logos, but it gets far more interesting as you narrow it down to the more opaque signals — when the way you tuck your shirt, or what you eat for breakfast, or your particular brand of notebook can mark you as in or out. And of course, what counts as a status item varies wildly across human tribes. In our new series, Insider Goods, we’re talking to tribe members (some with their real names, some anonymously) to find out the status items among art-gallery assistants, or Broadway actors, or architects. Today, teaching us about the tech-bro, we have Jeremy Banon, associate at the venture-capital fund Javelin Venture Partners (or the equivalent of Monica on Silicon Valley), who moved from New York to the Valley two years ago.

“Allbirds are definitely at the top of the list. That’s quintessential Silicon Valley. I don’t like them at all because people wear them without socks and it’s disgusting, but they’re VC-backed and that usually kick-starts what people are into here. It’s the same reason Blue Bottle is really, really big out here.”

“People love to drink kombucha. This is going to sound cynical, but it’s the self-righteous slant that everyone in Silicon Valley has. Like, there were a lot of articles saying how good kombucha is for you and here, if you’re not following the best and latest science, you’re kind of an asshole. So since it’s considered a very healthy thing to drink, everyone is into it. Soylent used to be very in vogue like that, but that’s out now because there was an outbreak and the people drinking it started getting sick.”

“When it comes to beer, Lagunitas is at every start-up or VC event. That’s definitely the beer.”

“James Perse’s basic T-shirts are a big tech thing because Evan Spiegel from Snapchat wears them. He wears the white V-neck. I wear the gray or white crewneck every day. Those are around 60 bucks and very popular.”

“Timbuk2 makes very rugged climbing and outdoor backpacks. It’s a local brand, and people are very into the San Francisco–inspired stuff. It’s a ‘for us by us’ mentality. Also, everyone here wears backpacks. In New York, where I grew up, you’re either really cool or really lame in a suit and a backpack. In San Francisco, it’s not like that. The weather changes very frequently between neighborhoods and hours of the day, so people wear a lot of layers, like a waterproof shell or Patagonia fleeces. When it gets hot, you need a place to put it, like in your bag, with all your other tech-related gadgets. Also, people bike a lot. Everyone has a backpack.”

“You gotta have the S’well, that’s all the rage. I don’t know Klean Kanteen, but I know S’well. People use them as giveaways to promote their start-ups, so usually they’ll have your company’s name on it.”

“There’s an actual USB drive, a USB stick, that you can load all of your crypto-currency onto. People have these at home, like you would a hard drive, to properly store all of their bitcoins.”

“Smoking is very taboo here because of the health stuff I mentioned before, so everyone uses Juul instead.”

“There’s this great artisanal electronics company called Conway Electrics. It’s a boutique brand, but it’s popular with the in crowd who knows what’s up. They make upscale, really nice extension cords. They photograph really well, and they come in great colors.”

Unfortunately this 12ft option is sold out, but it is available in the 6ft version here.

“That book Sapiens by Yuval Harari is really big. Ready Player One is another really popular one that blew up when Facebook bought Oculus. It’s VR fiction and Steven Spielberg bought the rights, so it’s going to be a big Hollywood movie. It’s also a really good book. It’s about this guy with a big VR company who dies and leaves a treasure hunt. Whoever wins the hunt gets the company, and all these other big companies try to solve it. The way to solve it is to solve all of these obscure ’80s references, like playing Pac-Man or finishing a line from the Breakfast Club. It’s fun.”

“For sure Patagonia fleeces. Everyone wears those. Really, everyone wears them. They’re really fucking lame, but that’s the North Face of San Francisco. The vest is very ‘San Francisco finance bro,’ and the long sleeve is more widespread. And it’s usually in that asparagus-green color. There are a lot of neutral tones here.”

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What to Buy to Look Like: A Venture Capitalist