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Silicon Valley’s psychedelic secrets

Google co-founder Sergey Brin: a big fan of magic mushrooms. Fabrice Coffrini/Getty

Taking drugs used to be a strictly after-hours activity, say Kirsten Grind and Katherine Bindley in The Wall Street Journal. But it’s quickly becoming a banal part of corporate culture. Silicon Valley bigwigs Elon Musk and Sergei Brin take ketamine and magic mushrooms respectively; executives at venture-capital giant Founders Fund regularly throw staff parties offering free psychedelics. At the vanguard are tech execs who see these substances as “gateways to business breakthroughs”. The most common practice is to take a small dose – say 10 micrograms of LSD in a gummy or a pill – which supposedly allows you to dream up more creative ideas. “Think of it as a smart drug,” one sales consultant explains. “It’s giving you the ability to be more analytical.”

Some users employ chemists for a weekly or monthly “infusion” of psychedelics; others rely on more traditional means. One prolific drug dealer in San Francisco is known as “Costco” because users can “buy bulk at a discount”. The CEO of an AI start-up says that if you take a “low-enough dose”, nobody realises you’re under the influence. But other tech workers say weird behaviour like so-called “cuddle puddles” – groups of people hugging on the floor – has become “standard fare” in Silicon Valley workplaces. But for many, the high expectations of a ruthless workplace mean psychedelics are necessary to “provide an edge”. Employers “don’t want a normal person”, one venture capitalist adds. “They want something extraordinary. You’re not born extraordinary.”