The people here are young and friendly and full of hope. And why shouldn’t they be? For one month, they get to live in a mansion in Beverly Hills (Zillow estimate: $12.9 million). It’s not just any mansion, but the one where Paris Hilton used to live, with a precious little pergola overlooking a million-dollar view of Los Angeles, next to a pool surrounded by tastefully sculpted rocks, with bathroom faucets shaped like swans about to take flight.
This mansion is the home of Launch House, which is both an incubator for startup founders and a social club of more than 500 20- and 30-somethings, many of whom are into crypto. There are two ways to join Launch House: One is to pay the $1,000 annual membership fee, which grants you perks like entrance to the group Discord channel, access to work at the mansion or the New York City location, and invitations to events — an NFT brunch, say, or a boat party during Miami Tech Month. The other is to pay $3,000 to join a month-long “cohort,” in which you and around two dozen other young tech founders live and work together at the mansion.
Launch House’s pitch for its cohorts is that, by networking and bonding in extremely close quarters for just four weeks, its members will learn skills and make connections that are far more valuable for their careers than what a traditional college degree provides. It’s part of a larger trend in the tech world of augmenting or even circumventing traditional institutions — school, church, a shared workplace — to build knowledge but also community, digitally and IRL. No longer is the startup founder’s maxim to create a “minimum viable product”; now they need a “minimum viable community.”
Launch House held its first cohort specifically for women in March.
Another trend swept the tech world around the same time Launch House was taking off, one that married the concept of community with the promise of enormous profit. Web3 is the name for the still-mostly-hypothetical iteration of the internet that is built on blockchain technology and crypto transactions, which are supposed to increase both transparency and security. Much of the Web3 space can feel willfully abstruse; there’s no shortage of headlines like “WTF is Web3?” or “You Can Give People What They Want, Or You Can Give Them Web3.”
According to devotees, the Web3 spaces …….