Palo Alto’s Newest Incubator Offers Smoothies, Pool Time
By: C.J. Cantwell
Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti was always meant to do big things, and since leaving Hooli XYZ, he’s started fostering the next generation of tech in his luxurious Palo Alto home. Clearly not ready to go on record, Bighetti refrained from calling the space an incubator, insisting, “It’s just where I live.” When I asked where would be a good space to do the interview, he even humbly joked, “What? Oh, I thought you just came in to use the bathroom.” I did use the bathroom, which of course had nothing less than a state-of-the-art Japanese toilet. But before that, I sat with the tech icon poolside, and we spoke about the demands of running an incubator, culture fit and how cool it is when your incubees succeed.
I saw you have a brassware wet bar, a wood fire pizza oven, you’re even equipped for fresh juice and smoothies in the kitchen. How important are things like that when there’s enormous pressure to retain top talent?
The chef likes the pizza oven, so…I’m not sure I understand the question?
Did you actively seek things like the pool or the state-of-the-art kitchen when deciding to locate here?
I mean, it’s mostly stuff I thought would be cool to have. Or stuff the contractor recommended. I’m thinking about changing some things up, though. Maybe move the pinball machine into the den or get another TV. Does the pool look like, too close to the house or something to you?
Always innovating, I love it. What’s the selection process to get a room here?
Uh, it’s just whoever seems like they’d be a good roommate. Some of the guys, I didn’t pick them, they just kind of you know, showed up. Like they picked me.
Ah, the elusive culture fit. So, what are “the guys” here working on?
I don’t know all their apps, but they’re really smart so I’m sure it’s all good. Fred [Ash] has a malware cataloging thing that’s pretty cool. I can’t really say how it works…
Of course, full confidentiality is a must, especially with a product that’s gotten interest from Facebook and Apple.
Yes, Fred Ash was approached by Facebook, I believe, this past week. And Apple followed shortly after.
Oh, cool. Hey, did you need to use the bathroom?
[Laughs.] Oh, I will. Before I go, any advice you have for young tech entrepreneurs?
Not really? Oh, I just found out 7-Eleven has a rewards program where you get a free Big Gulp after, like, six Big Gulps. So that’s a pretty good deal. If you’re thirsty.