I could try to tell you what exactly Douglas Rushkoff’s Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires 1 is about via a traditional book review, or I could hope that an inspired rant might give you a better idea. If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m choosing the latter route.

The tech billionaires have one simple goal: to shelter themselves from the world they’ve shaped with their outsized wealth, power, and influence. Undoing all they’ve done in the name of making true positive change via small incremental improvements that risk going unrecognised is beyond them. Simply having the option to escape this world via one avenue or another shows that the tech billionaires already live in a reality far different from the one most of us inhabit.

How many ways can one hope to escape?

Rushkoff starts by describing the struggles of those tech billionaires outfitting their doomsday bunkers for the coming apocalypse2. A lot of thought goes into such preparation. Location, supplies, air filtration. The tech billionaires are also looking into how to motivate their security to protect them when the markets collapse and currency is worthless.

Others hope to one day leave the earth behind. They plan to colonize Mars and start over new, where they’ll stand to gain even more as the early adopters of a fresh society.

But what about those tech billionaires who can’t escape in these ways? What if they have no choice but to stay on this boring earth, and what if everything doesn’t go to absolute hell and they can’t justify running away to their bunkers in Hawaii or New Zealand?

That’s where digital escapes like the Metaverse come into play. Who needs Mars or a doomsday bunker when they can build a digital world to replace the physical. You can always buy digital real estate and rent it out to supplement any losses realised from your real estate in the unplugged world3. Some might call this strategy ‘diversification.’

One foot out the door

Can you be tied to the world around you if your mind is set on escaping? Are you invested in the slightest? If the answer is no, then why do we let these select few build a world we’ll be stuck with when they flee the first chance they get? If you already have one foot out the door because you’re convinced that to stay is hopeless, then at what point is reality a foreign concept? And if you’re so sure that a certain outcome is inevitable, when does everything begin to look like a prophecy? And when do you decide that resistance is futile? You might as well get what you can while you can. Just make sure you get enough to help you get away at a later date.

Perhaps we can’t blame the tech billionaires for looking forward to their own big exit, when their investors expect their own such exit, usually in the form of an IPO or flipping the company at some multiple of their original investment.

Many in tech have long adopted Mark Zuckerberg’s mantra to ‘Move fast and break things.’4 But tech’s secondary mantra appears inspired by Matthew Good5:

We’ll stick to the plan:

The fall of man

The tech billionaires aren’t worried though, because as man falls, they will rise, whether to Mars, the Metaverse, or to the safety of their underground bunkers.

No big deal though. I’m sure they’ll wave bye and give a heartfelt thanks for all we’ve done to enable them to get the hell out of Dodge as they leave us to our fates6.

Jake LaCaze really doesn’t like being so sour about tech. But he’s finding it hard not to be.


  1. Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires on Bookshop.org (Affiliate link) ↩︎

  2. ‘Why is Mark Zuckerberg building a private apocalypse bunker in Hawaii?’ on The Guardian ↩︎

  3. ‘Inside the lucrative business of a metaverse landlord, where monthly rent can hit $60,000 per property’ on Fast Company ↩︎

  4. ‘The problem with “Move fast and break things”—Tech needs a better guiding principle’ on jakelacaze.com ↩︎

  5. ‘The Fall of Man’ by Matthew Good Band on YouTube ↩︎

  6. ‘Jeff Bezos thanks Amazon customers and employees who “paid for all this”’ on CNN ↩︎