How intelligent is Joe Lonsdale

Instrumental love

"Sexual-power dynamics can affect who advances": this is demonstrated by the following report on the relationship between an aspiring young woman and an already successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur. “Sexual-power dynamics” here means: He (in his late 20s and, as a co-founder of the surveillance company Palantir, has long been a millionaire and influential figure in the Valley) has social capital; she (early 20s, intelligent student and model by the way) has erotic capital. Interests seem to overlap. He gives her first jobs in his disruptive business and takes her into his world of crass mansion and all that; she writes him languishing emails and pleases him on his lap. Mother helps with marriage plans. But it ends in court, where she accuses him of having forced her to have sex hundreds of times - often with violence - which he rejects as an allegation and character assassination campaign.

The story drives one to despair, is not a loose, fluffy read, because it shows the thing with the sex-and-power dynamic as tricky as it can be in an asymmetrical system. The man doesn't just come across as if he is no Asshole, that much is clear. But the woman and her friends also talk very uncomfortably about the relationship - uncomfortable because they show how attractive a disruptive asshole can be when the life it has to offer is combined with other advantages. The girl seems to find it completely normal, not conspicuously instrumental, when she says things like “I thought it would be so nice to have the chance to have an impact” - influence in Silicon Valley through the relationship with him.

Influence and lack of influence, power and sex and business are inexpressibly intertwined in the “eat or die” world shown. And one wonders how this instrumental dynamic can be defused, if not through less power: "The imbalance of power inherent in these entanglements is of real concern."