Being cancelled getting you down? Well now there’s a conference for you—and everyone else booted from mainstream political discourse for “thoughtcrimes.”
“Imagine a conference for people banned from other conferences,” the announcement for Founders Fund’s exclusive new three-day event reads. “Imagine a safe space for people who don’t feel safe in safe spaces.”
Hereticon (yes, it’s actually called that) promises to include “many of our culture’s most important troublemakers,” specifically ones committed to improving civilization. That might rule out a few names, but we’d expect Founders Fund to highlight at least a handful of thinkers from its portfolio companies.
Palantir will probably show up, given recent protests and the decision by both the Grace Hopper Celebration and the Lesbians Who Tech conference to remove the company, which contracts with ICE, as a sponsor.
Retiring Texas Rep. Will Hurd also seems like a natural choice, after being disinvited to keynote the Black Hat security conference due to his political record on abortion. Hurd is also friendly with Founders Fund portfolio company Anduril.
Unlike gatherings of right-leaning online provocateurs that the event resembles, Hereticon will draw a more pedigreed set. The invite-only conference in May 2020 will likely attract attendees from the much-grumbled about liberal strongholds of American tech, and perhaps others who’ve been cast out of the silicon gates already.
“From Galileo to Jesus Christ, heretical thinkers have been met with hostility, even death, and vindicated by posterity,” the blog post grandly opens, going on to declare that “troublemakers are essential to mankind’s progress, and so we must protect them.”
The topics that will take center stage at Hereticon? They’re a doozy. Conversations will center on a smorgasbord of libertarian micro-obsessions, including transhumanism, “the abolition of college” (a favorite of Founders Fund partner Peter Thiel), “the benefits of starvation” a la Jack Dorsey’s fasting diet, “the softer side of doomsday prepping,” and immortality, naturally.
While it’s no surprise to see such an event emerge from the crowd that sees eye-to-eye with a man seen as Silicon Valley’s seastead-loving deep-pocketed free press assassin, it’s interesting to see Founders Fund throw the event themselves. Some of the firm’s investments, like defense-friendly Palantir and Anduril, are considered controversial in tech’s left-leaning circles, but many of its portfolio companies are more quotidian utilities like Stripe, Facebook, and Credit Karma. Not exactly heretical.
It’s likely a strategic choice for a venture firm that could benefit from drawing the self-identified misfits stalking tech's fringes in toward the center and giving them something to feel collectively persecuted and intellectually invigorated about.
Then again, they might just come together to chatter about UFOs and wax poetic about corporate counterculture. Either way, we’ll be staying tuned to see which technocrats and/or heretics get the invite nod.