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High-tech: from microdosing magic mushrooms to spiritual retreats and chemsex parties: how Silicon Valley is becoming the new Wall Street when it comes to drug use

From Elon Musk smoking marijuana on Joe Rogan’s podcast to Steve Jobs dabbling in psychedelics, Silicone Valley is no stranger to drug use.

But a new report has exposed just how widespread illegal and legal substance use has become in the tech world – with executives enjoying a creative edge over the competition, power through crazy shifts and partying all night.

Although cocaine use is synonymous with Wall Street, the report outlines how Silicon Valley’s drugs of choice appear to be more powerful psychedelics such as LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), mushrooms and ketamine, as well as legal stimulants such as Adderall.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin is rumored to be indulging in magic mushrooms, while Musk is fond of MDMA (ecstasy) and ketamine.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk smoked cannabis during The Joe Rogan Experience in 2018, prompting NASA to conduct a safety review of SpaceX. His drug use has since escalated, reports say, and regularly includes ketamine, MDMA and mushrooms.

Ketamine is a medical-grade anesthetic used to euthanize animals and sedate people in hospitals.  It also has a reputation as a party drug because it induces psychedelic experiences at high doses.  Recent research has shown that it has promise for treating depression.

Ketamine is a medical-grade anesthetic used to euthanize animals and sedate people in hospitals. It also has a reputation as a party drug because it induces psychedelic experiences at high doses. Recent research has shown that it has promise for treating depression.

But drug use spreads far beyond the boardroom. Even regular workers have reported ‘microdosing’ small amounts of psychedelic drugs during work hours to improve their focus and creativity – claims supported only by anecdotal evidence.

Some tech figures like Thiel have also invested heavily in psychedelic medicine.

Silicon Valley’s elite give a nod to this research and repeat the language of psychedelics as medicine when describing their drug use.

But insiders paint a different picture: drug-addled sex parties, dosing at work and professional repercussions if you refuse to participate, the report says.

This trend has raised concerns among investors and board members at some of the tech giants, the report outlines, as senior employees have reported quitting due to their discomfort working in an environment where drug use is the norm – not just after work , but also during the working day.

In many cases, technology leaders have self-reported using psychedelics such as LSD, MDMA, magic mushrooms and ketamine. In other cases, the people around them have talked about their habits.

One Tesla board member declined to seek re-election because of her concerns about Musk’s drug use.

In addition to openly smoking cannabis on Joe Rogan’s podcast in 2018, Musk has also been open about his use of the powerful psychedelic tranquilizer ketamine, which “caused alarm” among Tesla and SpaceX board members, among others.

Others in the Valley have let drug use lead them away from technology.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has in the past publicized his use of small amounts of

Google co-founder Sergey Brin has in the past publicized his use of small amounts of “magic” psilocybin mushrooms.

Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as

Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as “magic mushrooms,” have now been decriminalized in Colorado and Oregon, meaning individuals can possess a small amount without fear of arrest. The Californian cities of San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland have also decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms.

Tim Sae Koo, founder of a digital marketing startup, told Ynet that after having a transformative experience with psychedelics in 2014, he realized he only started his company to get his mother’s approval.

“Exploring the psychedelic world gave me clarity that my entrepreneurial journey came from a place of personal wounds,” he said.

After this revelation, Sae Koo sold his company.

But he hasn’t strayed far from technology and now runs psychedelic retreats for tech entrepreneurs in Costa Rica, where they ingest the DMT-containing brew ayahuasca.

For others, combining medicine and work has not been so smooth.

Musk’s Tesla reportedly has a lax attitude toward drug use at work, including some employees getting high on cannabis or psychedelics.

Former employee of the Tesla factory in California, SO Svensson, reportedly indulged freely during his off hours, but was fired after trying to sell drug-soaked brownies to a co-worker who turned out to be an undercover drug enforcement agent are.

He received no support from Musk or the company, Ynetnews reported.

The dark side of this drug use has also come into the public eye in several notable incidents.

Reports indicate that former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s death in 2020 was linked to his prodigious use of ketamine and nitrous oxide.

Before CashApp founder Bob Lee was stabbed to death, he was known for being part of a sex-and-drugs swinger party lifestyle in San Francisco. His autopsy revealed cocaine and ketamine in his system.

The late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, was open about his LSD use.  Jobs said it was one of the most important things he had ever done.

The late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, was open about his LSD use. Jobs said it was one of the most important things he had ever done.

Tim Sae Koo founded a digital marketing startup in Silicon Valley, but in 2014 a profound psychedelic experience led him to sell the company.

Tim Sae Koo founded a digital marketing startup in Silicon Valley, but in 2014 a profound psychedelic experience led him to sell the company.

Tim Sae Koo now runs the Reunion Ayahuasca Center in Costa Rica, where tech entrepreneurs come to drink the powerful psychedelic brew ayahuasca, which contains the chemical DMT.

Tim Sae Koo now runs the Reunion Ayahuasca Center in Costa Rica, where tech entrepreneurs come to drink the powerful psychedelic brew ayahuasca, which contains the chemical DMT.

The man accused of the murder, Nima Momeni, was a technology consultant who seemed to blame Lee for drawing Momeni’s sister Khazar into this world of sex and drugs.

Khazar did not show up for her court hearing this week for drunk driving.

Psychedelic drugs have stolen the spotlight in recent years, away from the former drug of choice of Silicon Valley’s elite: stimulants.

For years, stimulant ADHD drugs like Adderall and Ritalin have fueled marathon workdays for programmers and programmers working under brutal deadlines.

These habits persist, according to a 2023 study that found that 80 percent of tech executives surveyed were taking medications — with or without a doctor’s supervision.

Thirty-four percent were taking stimulant medications.

Although “mind-altering” psychedelic drugs have become the Valley’s substances of choice, the reasoning behind this is the same: investors demand big returns, which means not only hard work but also creative thinking.

“Investors don’t want a normal person or a normal company,” Spencer Shulem, CEO of BuildBetter.ai, told Ynetnews. “They want something extraordinary, but you aren’t born extraordinary.”

Substance use is not limited to public figures.

As reported by Ynetnews and other media, there is a culture among the tech elite of pressuring people into drug use.

Sometimes that pressure is not from the outside, but rather a clear and unspoken message that this is what you must do to be considered trustworthy in the higher levels of power.

Like Emily Chang reported in her book Brotopiadrug-fueled sex parties among Silicon Valley’s elite have a double standard when it comes to gender.

In previous reporting on some Silicon Valley sex parties, women working in the tech industry have described an environment in which they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.

If you refuse to attend the private parties where MDMA and other drugs are offered, you risk calling yourself a prude.

This has serious professional consequences also in terms of lost jobs.

When male executives are present, they receive applause. Men in tech have compared attending these parties to a day on the golf course, in terms of professional networking.

When women do that, they lose respect. But if they are not present, they risk being seen as unreliable.

Do you have any tips about drug use in Silicon Valley? Send them to peter.hess@mailonline.com.