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Silicon Valley firms pay models to mingle at their holiday parties

Christmas ornaments
Ornaments hang on a Christmas tree on display in New York. Photo: Swayne B. Hall / AP

At holiday parties in Silicon Valley this year, there'll be a surprising influx of attractive women — and a few pretty men — mingling with the engineers. They're being paid to.

"Ambiance and atmosphere models," contractually obligated to pretend they're party guests, are in record demand from local agencies, Bloomberg's Sarah Frier reports.

  • "Along with ... harassment and discrimination scandals, Silicon Valley's homogeneity has a more trivial side effect: boring holiday parties. A fete meant to retain all your talented engineers is almost certain to wind up with a rather same-y crowd, made up mostly of guys."
  • "Local modeling agencies, which work with Facebook- and Google-size companies as well as much smaller businesses and the occasional wealthy individual, say a record number of tech companies are quietly paying $50 to $200 an hour for each model hired solely to chat up attendees."
  • "For a typical party, ... Cre8 Agency LLC is sending 25 women and 5 men, all good-looking, to hang out with 'pretty much all men' who work for a large gaming company in San Francisco."