Silicon Status

My brand-new Gulfstream V is parked out back

May 29, 2000

By Bronwyn Fryer

Remember the old joke about how those with the most toys win? If your IPO is just around the corner or you've already entered the Promised Land—and you want to show you belong—it's important to know Silicon Valley's status symbols. Yes, we understand that nobody in the Valley is interested in money and that everybody drives an old Datsun with an AM-only radio. But here's our list of cool, cooler and coolest stuff anyway.

You'll notice that "coolest" doesn't always mean most expensive. Oh sure, it's cool to do your shopping at Roberts Market in Woodside or Draeger's in Menlo Park, where you can pick up a three-ounce bottle of Malphigi Modena Balsamic Vinegar for just $89, but the money is beside the point. Conspicuous displays of wealth are so... '80s. A small bottle of vinegar, however exclusive, is something only somebody already in your rarefied atmosphere would even recognize as a badge of status. And that is the point. The rich are different.

WINGS. Cool: Cessna 172 SB four-seater ($170,000). Cooler: Gulfstream V with touch-screen passenger controls ($40 million). Larry Ellison has one! Coolest: a refurbished 1945 P-51 fighter plane ($1.5 million.) Want to actually fly it? Add $45,000 for training and insurance.

WHEELS. Cool: Porsche 911 Cabriolet ($80,000), with custom-made Titanium bike ($5,000 and up). Cooler: BMW Z8 roadster ($135,000, not yet shipped to the United States and already sold out). Coolest: Bright red 1948 Tucker ($250,000 to $500,000).

THREADS (Men). Cool: anything with the letter K (Kenneth Cole, Calvin Klein, khakis). Cooler: 24-karat gold hoop earring; diamond stud. Coolest: WWII-vintage bomber jacket ($795), with ascot ($100).

THREADS (Women). Cool: Liz Claiborne separates ($80 and up). Cooler: Armani or Escada for evening wear (starting at $2,500). Coolest: hire a consultant. Ashley Rothschild of The Rothschild Image will fill your closet for $200 an hour, clothes not included.

ADDRESS. Cool: anywhere on the eastern flank of the Santa Cruz foothills. Cooler: an additional loft on Brannan Street in San Francisco ($700,000 and up). Coolest: multiple houses across the Bay Area—and one in Napa Valley—owned by the company trust.

SMART HOUSE. Cool: custom remote-controlled security system ($50,000). Cooler: setup for satellite, high-speed DSL Web and standard phone access from every room ($20,000). Coolest: master lighting-control system commanding indoor and exterior lights for every mood from Party through Seduction and Hangover ($40,000-$65,000).

KITCHEN. Cool: complete renovation from Harrell Remodeling of Menlo Park ($100,000). Especially for a new house. Cooler: appliances like a Miele single wall oven ($22,000) and gas cooktop ($1,000), Thermador warming drawer ($800). Coolest: Sub-Zero 690 refrigerator/freezer ($6,300).

BATHROOM. Cool: total renovation ($80,000). Cooler: Jacuzzi multijet tub ($5,000). Coolest: custom-built steam room with etched-glass doors ($20,000).

HOME THEATER. Cool: combo with Marantz touch-screen remote RC control system, Dolby Surround sound processor, TiVo box for recording movies and Escient Internet-delivered 900-CD management ($80,000). Cooler: add a 50-inch Pioneer gas-plasma monitor ($20,000). Coolest: add an Elan HD Series Multi-Source Multi-Zone system for poolside listening ($30,000).

WINE. Cool: 1971 Romanee-Conti Burgundy ($2,500 a bottle); 1990 Le Montrachet Chardonnay ($1,000). Cooler: a climate-controlled cellar with tasting bar. Coolest: private vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains or near St. Helena.

COLLECTIBLES. Cool: plastic toys from the 1950s and '60s. Cooler: "Star Wars" paraphernalia. Coolest, for your onyx-and-marble foyer: seven-foot fiberglass replica of Darth Vader ($5,750 from The Sharper Image), flanked by six-foot Imperial Stormtroopers ($4,000 each).

GOLF. Cool: 1999 Kevin Burns Masters Winner Limited Edition Putter ($800), Ashworth polo shirt ($90), Titleist golf hat ($20), and FootJoy golf shoes ($300). Cooler: membership at the Saratoga Country Club ($65,000). Coolest: invitation to join the Los Altos Golf and Country Club ($270,000).

PETS. Cool: rare dog (vizsla, bichon frisé, Havanese, $300 and up) and certified pet-sitter/trainer ($75-plus per day). Cooler: South American macaw, including cage and vet checkup ($5,000). Coolest: Sony's AIBO robot dog in gray-silver and metallic black with AIBO Performer Kit ($3,000).

CHARITY. Cool: The Mayfield Fund's Entrepreneurs' Foundation; Community Foundation Silicon Valley. Cooler: throw a fund-raising birthday party, proceeds to the Lance Armstrong Foundation for Cancer Research. Coolest: start your own fund in memory of your childhood dog.

© 2000 Newsweek, Inc.

Ashley Rothschild picture

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