Pando

Welcome to SV. Magazine: an alternate reality where the weather's always just right, the future bright, and bubbles don't pop...

...they "plop"

By Dan Raile , written on December 7, 2015

From The Oligarch Valley Desk

“If things are so bad, why haven’t we heard anything about it?”

–Question from the crowd at an exclusive Nob Hill social club after a talk by author Grey Brechin

Gen*try n., pl. -tries 1. People of gentle birth, good breeding, or high social position. 2a. An upper or ruling class. b. The class of English landowners ranking just below the nobility.

–the American Heritage Dictionary, fourth edition

Hey, Silicon Valley! Sense of impending economic trauma got you down? I have just the thing!

It’s called SV. Magazine, and it’s yours for free, so long as you are deemed one of “the Bay Area’s most affluent, educated homeowners.”

Since “SV.” was founded, in the spring of 2014, nearly 30,000 “select homes” in “San Francisco, the Peninsula, and Silicon Valley” (sorry, East Bay. Keep trying though!) receive the magazine six times a year, “polybagged” along with Gentry Magazine, its mother-mag, which is “hand-delivered” each month to the “finest homes” in the area.

Gentry is exactly what it sounds like: A trade magazine for the leisure class, a publication unashamed since 1993 to peddle its glossy product directly, and exclusively, to the those it deems the social elite, and who agree. Gentrification? Sounds lovely. Can’t happen soon enough.

Then there’s sister-publication SV., tagline “the spin of Silicon Valley.” (previously: "a mindset, not a place" and, seriously: "Gentry's take on tech.")

The editorial stance of SV., regarding the possibility of a coming “correction”? Everything is going to be just fine. Just buy these watches and diamonds and mansions and yachts and luxury cars. The way you always do. Because you’re the best.

I am not a member of the gentry but it seems the former occupant of my apartment made the cut. As such, I can enjoy a monthly peek into how the other half live.

A typical issue of SV. features:

  • Startup founders –tending to favor those whose last funding round is running thin, but who come from the kind of wealth and tone of background that renders that problem a mere annoyance.
  • The sassy prose of tech heiress Jesse Draper as “the Valley Girl.” Draper only sometimes profiles her family’s portfolio companies without disclosing the link.
  • Meticulously captioned photos from various charity and cultural events.
  • The startup investment wisdom (and occasional wine and travel writing) of long-time seed investor and newly minted VC, Ben Narasin.

At last week’s Future of Money & Technology Summit in San Francisco, Narasin told a panel crowd:

“I do believe that some forms of crowdfunding, and even AngelList for example, represent what will be the single greatest destruction of wealth in the history of this industry.”

Adding:

“Technology has allowed incredible wealth to be built, but there will be a day of reckoning.”

And:

“It’s going to be an incredibly horrific experience. I think a lot of people are going to lose a huge amount of money.”

But Narasin knows better than to share any of these inconvenient truths in the pages of SV/Gentry – (or in his guest posts for TechCrunch, apparently) – though the readership of the former might appreciate the nascent elitist instinct in wanting to keep unaccredited investors out of venture investing.

At the Summit, Narasin argued that the riff raff wouldn’t know from diligencing, couldn’t be expected to analyze a startup with the veracity of an Angel, and would ruin it for everyone by attracting the attentions of media-hungry politicians. Narasin is invested in such ventures as “Uber-of-trucking” Transfix and smartphone-based lottery ticket vendor AutoLotto, along with the legally troubled Zenefits – he’s wasn’t lying when he told the crowd, “I am generally interested in our government not meddling in what I do. I am an American for a reason.”)

But all that talk about destruction of wealth, days of reckoning, horrific experiences? Not a fit for the SV. Magazine community, apparently. They favor the fearlessly positive, and exclusively. They must be soothed into buying this season’s sparkly brooches.

Equally, SV. is excised from consensus reality. For some reason, company after profiled company declines to link to their SV. Magazine feature on their website or Crunchbase profile. Narasin, who tends to Tweet about most of the speaking and wine appreciating he does, doesn’t promotionally Tweet about his SV. wisdom nuggets. Perhaps this is simply because there is nothing much to link to: although SV. Magazine is nominally about technology, it’s not so gauche as to give its articles away free on the web, where they could be read by the hoi polloi.

I suspect it’s more than that.

I have come to believe that SV magazine exists in a separate, cheerful parallel reality, from which it is hand-delivered through my mail slot. Hell, the Ben Narasin I saw last week may not even know about what bizzaro Narasin is writing – he may not live in a designated select home.

If you’d like to join SV’s parallel reality, I highly recommend calling the circulation department at Gentry. If you merit it, you’ll win inclusion into what Gentry’s Editorial Director Stefanie Lingle Beasley and Executive Editor/Co-Founder Elsie Floriani refer to as “the plop factor” – the sound of a thick, glossy polybagged wad of content hitting the floor. And while that ought to brighten the edges of your day, it is unlikely to keep a correction away.

The last time Gentry founder/publisher Sloane Citron (an actual human’s name) decide to add a tech-specific spinoff was Click Magazine … in 1999.