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The Valley's techies live in a bubble of prosperity. Optimism has its advantages, but some worry the region may lose touch with the rest of the world
Every so often, the best parties come to represent moments in time. Think of Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball in 1966, the celeb-studded Liberty Island launch of Tina Brown’s ill-fated Talk magazine in 1999, and private equity maven Stephen A. Schwarzman’s 60th birthday bash in 2007, which featured Rod Stewart. Sean Parker’s bacchanal for the streaming music service Spotify on Sept. 22 in San Francisco may well join the ranks of these epic affairs.
The Facebook billionaire—portrayed by Justin Timberlake as a swaggering lush in The Social Network—turned an abandoned warehouse in the city’s Potrero District into a couch-filled pleasure palace. Waiters served piles of lobster, sushi, and roast pig, while journalists each were presented their own $300 bottles of DeLeón Tequila. As Mark Zuckerberg, Apple (AAPL) designer Jony Ive, author Danielle Steel, and other guests mingled, acts including Snoop Dogg, Jane’s Addiction, and the Killers—flown in on private jets—performed for the well-lubricated crowd. “All the recording artists here might not have shown up if they knew I was a nerd,” said an exuberant Parker from the stage.
In Silicon Valley, all the Sturm und Drang of 2011 seemed as relevant as the Cricket World Cup. High unemployment? Crippling debt? Not in Silicon Valley, where the fog burns off by noon and it’s an article of faith that talented, hard-working techies can change the world and reap unimaginable wealth in the process. “We live in a bubble, and I don’t mean a tech bubble or a valuation bubble. I mean a bubble as in our own little world,” says Google (GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt. “And what a world it is: Companies can’t hire people fast enough. Young people can work hard and make a fortune....