A divisive political climate has also contributed to what has become increasingly uncertain times. A Texas bunker producer, who makes millions selling doomsday shelters, said his pro-Trump clients often bring up their political views, citing President Joe Biden’s administration as a reason for wanting to prepare for disaster.
The wealthiest in society, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street and beyond, take it to a whole other level, perhaps simply because they can afford to.
From buying up land in New Zealand to getting Lasik eye surgery, here’s how and why some of the biggest names in tech have invested in doomsday prepping.
Survivalism is a movement whose participants actively prepare for a political, social, or natural global emergency by stockpiling food, weaponry, and other supplies.
It’s more commonly referred to as “doomsday prepping.”
There are subreddits and Facebook groups devoted to the community, and it’s perforated pop culture in recent years, with TV programs like National Geographic Channel’s “Doomsday Preppers” series that kicked off in 2012.
Tim Chang, managing director at the venture capital firm Mayfield Fund, told The New Yorker that he keeps a set of bags packed for him and his family in case of a disaster. He also invests in real estate for passive income and to have safehouses in place.
Doomsday real estate purchases have also become a trend.
LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman told The New Yorker he estimated that more than 50% of his “fellow Silicon Valley billionaires” have acquired some kind of doomsday hideaway spot in the US or elsewhere in the world.
Antonio García Martínez, an ex-Facebook product manager who lives in San Francisco, bought five acres on an island in the Pacific Northwest. His island home features generators, solar panels, and weaponry.
There could be many reasons why those with money in the Valley opt to invest in doomsday preparations.
One, as Huffman told The New Yorker, could be that Silicon Valley needs an exit strategy for when the angry masses retaliate against them for building the kind of automated technology that is replacing human workers.
But their mere wealth and circumstances could also be the simplest explanation, as well as the experience that comes with operating in the risk-heavy venture capital industry.
As Wong, the former Reddit CEO, told The New Yorker, “The tech preppers do not necessarily think a collapse is likely. They consider it a remote event, but one with a very severe downside, so, given how much money they have, spending a fraction of their net worth to hedge against this … is a logical thing to do.”
The most popular location for buying up apocalypse land has become New Zealand.
“New Zealand is already utopia,” Silicon Valley billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel told Business Insider in 2011.
The fixation on New Zealand could stem from one of Thiel’s favorite books.
According to the Guardian’s Mark O’Connell, Thiel has long cited “The Sovereign Individual: How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State” as one of the most influential in his life.
At its core, the book essentially details how a civilizational collapse would give way to the rise of the surviving “cognitive elite” who would then rebuild a new world after idling standing by – and hiding – as the existing way of life crumbled to pieces.
The book’s authors also pinpointed New Zealand as the prime spot to hole up until the dust settled following a fallout.
That fact, coupled with Thiel’s longtime fanaticism of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy – which was filmed in the country – is how Thiel and the rest of the tech elite made New Zealand their target apocalyptic hideout.
Buying up New Zealand real estate became so popular among execs in the Valley that purchasing a house in New Zealand became Silicon Valley code for getting “apocalypse insurance,” as Business Insider’s Melia Russell reported in 2017.
“If you’ve got the right to live in New Zealand permanently, you’ve got the right to buy here. But otherwise it’s not a right, it’s a privilege,” New Zealand’s minister for economic development and trade David Parker said in 2018.