Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Rachel Sequoia Comes Clean: Hippie Pitch Was a Prank

Last week I mentioned the Rachel Sequoia “Share the Air” video, a spot-on parody of the Silicon Valley start-up pitch. The clip has since gone viral in its own little way, with about 190,000 views on YouTube. But today, in a bit of a reverse April Fools joke, the team behind Rachel Sequoia contacted me to reveal themselves.

Rachel’s real last name is Cherones and she’s a 20-year-old actress. She spoke to me during her lunch break from her day job at a Berkeley boutique. She got involved in the project after video maker Dan Carlson of Spiral Moon Media directed her in a couple of music videos for local reggae band KingCaliWolf (see below).

Cherones said she received $100 for one night of work, in which she received a script, created a character and presented next to actual start-ups at the inaugural “Venture Capital Fundraising Club of Silicon Valley” meetup. The VCFC was invented as a search-engine-optimized concept for the occasion by Carlson and his collaborator Raj Abhyanker, who runs a tech start-up of his own called Trademarkia (a trademark search engine). Slightly fewer than 100 people showed up for presentations by various start-ups, most of them real companies that applied to get into the event.

“Everyone there really bought it,” said Cherones, who continued the act through the night as the VCFC judges gave her feedback and the audience asked her questions. “It was kind of embarrassing; I felt like I lied to a room of people.”

People online also seemed to buy the idea of an entrepreneur claiming to sell jars of air–though many of them said they hated it, which is even funnier.

Cherones noted that a Rachel Sequoia Twitter account that she has nothing to do with now has more than 2,000 followers. Abhyanker and Carlson said they were fascinated to see how quickly someone they do not know bought the domain and started accepting sign-ups.

No one in the group has any plans to capitalize on the stunt by promoting something specific, though they may work together on more projects in the future. There’s going to be another VCFC event on April 28.

“In Silicon Valley people think you can drop any idea these days and get it funded,” said Abhyanker. It may well be true: Share the Air got multiple funding and business development inquiries, he said.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik