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Some Silicon Valley Bigwigs Have Reportedly Already Scurried to Their Doomsday Shelters in New Zealand

Those with money in the Valley, as well as in other lucrative industries, have become known in recent years for investing in preparations for disaster scenarios, such as viral outbreaks.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

The wealthiest in society, including the deep-pocketed of Silicon Valley, have developed a reputation for turning to New Zealand as a doomsday shelter destination hotspot. 

Rob Griffith/AP Photo via BI
Sheep graze in green fields below Mt Isabel, near Hanmer Springs 125km north west of Christchurch, New Zealand.

And as Bloomberg reports, some of them may have already fled to their luxurious hideaways in the country as the coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19, continues to spread throughout the US.

Bay Area entrepreneur Mihai Dinulescu and his wife caught an Auckland-bound plane in early March, just four days before New Zealand closed its borders to foreigners, though local news outlets have reported private plane landings since the shutdown.

Dinulescu told Bloomberg that he's since connected with around 10 others who have also escaped to the country during the pandemic.

The general manager of Rising S Co, a Texas-based doomsday shelter provider, told the publication that he received a phone call in early March from a Silicon Valley exec struggling to access the secret door to his New Zealand underground bunker. He had never used the bunker before, according to Bloomberg, and was asking questions pertaining to the water and air filters, as well as the power and hot water heater.

In recent years, this slice of the elite have invested in doomsday preparations for a number of reasons. But the simplest explanation could be their mere wealth and circumstance.

As ex-Reddit CEO Yishan Wong 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."

Notable Silicon Valley figures with a penchant for doomsday prepping include ex-Y Combinator President Sam Altman and Reddit CEO Steve Huffman. Silicon Valley billionaire venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel is also in on it. He became a New Zealand citizen in 2011 and owns two properties in the country.

"New Zealand is already utopia," Thiel told Business Insider in 2011.

Silicon Valley's upper echelons aren't the only ones turning to the country for doomsday real estate investments. Wall Street tycoons have also been known to cash in on land in the Kiwi nation, so much so that the country passed a law barring most foreign visitors from purchasing homes or land within the country in 2018.

New Zealand has weathered the coronavirus outbreak relatively well. The country has reported only 12 deaths of the respiratory disease and has a death rate per capita that is 50 times lower than that of the US, as Bloomberg notes.

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