On Tuesday, a group of housemates posted an ad on Stanford's SUpost message board seeking roommates to join them in a highly selective "Startup Castle." In the posters' telling, they have formed a "community of excellence" in a 17,000-square-foot mansion in Woodside, but the extensive list of requirements that follows (tattooed Netflix bingers with gluten intolerance are a no; teetotaling bodybuilders are an emphatic yes) makes the house sound like a freaky exercise cult-slash-sorority that also wants to police your Facebook and Tinder usage. Anyone who makes the cut will pay $1,000 for the privilege of sleeping in a room with three other people (private rooms start at $1,750) at Woodside's Buck Estate, which is not actually a castle but a Tudor home built in 1930.
According to CNN Money, housemates John Lakness and Katherine Fritsch came up with the ad by listing qualities they liked in their friends and ruling out other attributes based on negative experiences. Simple, right? Here is what they came up with:
This may not be the right place if you:
- Watch more than 4 hours of TV/movie/game entertainment per week
- Have more than 1 tattoo
- Have ever attended more than 1 protest
- Make more than three posts a week to social media
- Listen to a songs with explicit lyrics more than an once a day
- Wear make-up more than twice a week
- Own any clothing, shoes, watches, or handbags costing over $500
- Have bills that get paid by somebody else
- Drive a vehicle that was given to you by your parents
- Get regular spending money or gifts from your parents
- Have more than one internet app date per week
- Have a complex diet that requires lots of refrigerator space
- Drink alcohol more than 3 drinks per week
- Use marijuana more than twice a year
- Have been prescribed anything by a psychiatrist more than once
- Use any other drug more than twice in your entire life Lakness and Fritsch explained all this to CNN Money as simply an effort to find driven people with strong math/science skills and a common value system, who are devoted to a life of excellence, and who won't clog up the fridge with a bunch of finicky freak-food. "I don't think there's anything in the post that restricts intellectual or cultural diversity at all," said Lakness, who is, incidentally, both a former contestant on the 2007 reality show Pirate Master and an ex-Chippendales stripper.
And the protest thing? People who participate in protests can be pushy, and, well, "we don't want someone protesting that we didn't buy enough milk for the generosity fridge," Fritsch told CNN.
Fritsch added that the no-makeup rule is intended to draw outdoorsy women, not exempt women entirely. She said she doesn't like feeling pressure to wear makeup herself.
So there we have it. The best way to locate a low-key, unmaterialistic roommate is definitely to draft a long list of lifestyle guidelines that goes into specifics about tattoo count, number of drinks per week, online dating habits, and numbers of songs with explicit lyrics. ("Nah, brah, I buy all my music at Walmart." "OK, sweet.")
And the social media restrictions? Apparently people who use Facebook and Twitter more than sparingly lack a "higher motivation."
No one has explained the psychiatric-meds rule so far, but mental-health discrimination not being super legal, we'll just put that one down as a definite gray area.
While this whole charade looks pretty bad—not to mention insulting to a great many sorts of people—it honestly sounds more like cluelessness than cruelty. When the only five people you've ever met who listen to non-bleeped music are all terrible, it might be tempting to draw boxes around them. Or to conclude that in a scenario where someone has an unpleasant personality and also happens to be a Facebook power user, the Facebook thing is the salient trait.
We can only hope that this crew will find it in themselves to try out for that 94110 reality show/art stunt, because we kind of want to see how this one unfolds.
· Community of Excellence - 3 Miles from Stanford [SUpost]
· Silicon Valley's 'Startup Castle' Is Looking for Roommates, and the Requirements Are Completely Bonkers [Fusion]
· The Ex-Stripper and Scientist Behind 'Startup Castle' [CNN Money]
· Startup Castle [Official Site]
· Startup Satire [Curbed SF]