When venture capitalist and philanthropist Jillian Manus throws a party, the who’s who of Silicon Valley shows up. That’s because her parties are legendary. The budget? Exorbitant.
The prolific hostess is known around the Bay for her over-the-top dinner parties and Valentine’s Day galas, which have over the years included a live elephant greeting guests at the door, a recreation of Woodstock, and a San Francisco Symphony concert on the lawn of her Atherton estate.
Business Insider recently spoke to Manus to get the inside scoop on how her talk-of-the-Valley parties come together. She shared photos of her last Valentine’s Day bash with us. Take a look.
“I never just throw a party. I am knee-deep. I roll up my sleeves,” Manus said.
It’s no wonder that the venture capitalist’s parties are “the toast of Silicon Valley.”
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
In 2006, Manus and her then-husband Alan Salzman, an early investor in Tesla, started hosting annual gala benefits on Valentine’s Day to raise money for a local cancer clinic.
Every year since, Manus has welcomed as many as 400 guests, including tech investors, CEOs, politicians, and athletes, into her home for an evening of dining, dancing, and spectacle.
Manus is tight-lipped about the guest list. (We see you, Marissa Mayer.)
Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Meg Whitman, former California first lady Maria Shriver, Laurene Powell Jobs, actor Cheryl Hines, and Bobby Kennedy, Jr. have also been spotted.
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
Tickets have sold for between $US1,500 and $US3,000 a pop.
Manus, who’s a celebrated philanthropist in addition to being an early-stage seed investor, underwrites the cost of hosting the parties and donates 100% of ticket sales to charity.
She has a theory: People will dig deeper to make a donation if they’re having a good time.
“I think that people who laugh together create tremendous bonds and they want to pass the laughter forward, the joy,” Manus said. “So it’s really about creating more events of joy.”
Her secret sauce is “creating interactions so that they won’t be focused on each other.”
In the past, guests have played the “Newlywed Game,” interacted with a saxophone-playing Bill Clinton impersonator, and drank martinis from an IV pump. “It’s a little cheeky,” Manus said.
She encourages guests to put away their phones and actually talk to each other. “Technology has really put a wall between all of us. We’re not communicating face to face anymore,” Manus said.
At her last Valentine’s Day bash — a more intimate affair held at her apartment in San Francisco — Manus threw a family-themed party to raise money for Safe and Sound.
Based in San Francisco, Safe and Sound is a child advocacy organisation that’s on a mission to prevent child abuse and reduce its devastating impact. The non-profit advocates for laws and policies aimed at protecting children, provides legal representation to child victims, and offers community events, parenting classes, and counseling to support families across the Bay Area.
The cause was near to Manus’s heart, because she said she was abused as a child.
“Child abuse is pervasive, but it is also preventable,” Manus said.
Each table in the dining room had a theme about a different famous family.
One table poked fun at the Trump Family (it’s San Francisco, after all). Guest tried on copped-coloured wigs to match President Donald Trump’s ‘do and flipped through tabloids featuring Ivanka Trump on the cover.
This table paid homage to “Green Acres,” an American sitcom about a family who moves from New York City to a country farm. Ears of corn hung on the back of each chair.
It wouldn’t be a family party without the crime dynasties of New York City.
The Valentine’s Day party raised $US100,000 for Safe and Sound.
No two parties are alike, though they all center on the same theme: love.
In 2011, the “Channeling Love” gala transported guests to iconic TV shows of the past.
A Partridge Family cover band sang “I Think I Love You” as guests arrived.
Guests mingled with the Addams Family, Edith and Archie Bunker of “All in the Family,” a Conehead from “Saturday Night Live,” and Gilligan and Skipper of “Gilligan’s Island.”
The sold-out event raised almost $US1 million for the Stanford Cancer Center.
Source: The Mercury News
2012’s “Love Is a Work of Art” gala was about “stepping into art,” Manus said. The highlight was a 12-foot ice sculpture of Michelangelo’s David “that peed lemon drop martini.”
Manus recreated Woodstock for a birthday one year. It didn’t go totally according to plan …
“It seemed, unbeknownst to me, everyone got baked at my party,” Manus said. “This was the first time every single morsel of food was eaten.” Food trucks and tents filled the lawn.
It’s tempting to write off Manus’s parties as a frivolous affair for Silicon Valley’s elite. But her events, which always benefit a local charitable cause, pack as much substance as style.
Manus said her goal with any party is to create relationships between strangers. She expects everyone to leave with at least one new friend, so they can build a better world together.
“My thought is, if I can get enough like-minds and like-hearts together, we can create impact,” she said.
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