Unicorn startup Zenefits banned sex on the stairs, report says

Technically Incorrect: After what's said to have been a rather partylike period, Zenefits is trying to dry out and sober up a little.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

A scene from a Zenefits video. Did she just hear a strange noise coming from the stairwell?

Zenefits; YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Never let it be said that Silicon Valley types don't work hard.

But never let it be said that while they're working hard they don't have time for fun.

After all, Silicon Valley exists to make work seem like fun. It's a place where you can skateboard all over the office. It's also a place where you can have sex in the stairwells.

This, at least, is what the Wall Street Journal suggested was the case at San Francisco-based Zenefits.

This slightly controversial HR software unicorn has had its troubles of late. It was accused of getting its employees approved as licensed insurance brokers a little too quickly than the law might be happy with.

Its co-founder and CEO, Parker Conrad, was forced to resign.

It appears, however, that the company's "ready, fire, aim" culture embraced all sorts of, well, embraces.

Condoms were reportedly found on the stairs, leading to sex on the stairs being banned. The Journal says a company memo read in part: "Do not use the stairwells to smoke, drink, eat, or have sex. Please respect building and company policy and use common sense."

Some might find it sad that the stairs were the chosen place to go in flagrante at Zenefits. Did the employees really work that hard? Was that all they had time for?

Some might also wonder whether there were parts of the office where it was appropriate to have sex. Meeting rooms, perhaps.

For its part, Zenefits didn't confirm the details of the memo.

However, a company spokesman told me: "As Zenefits' new CEO has made clear, it is time to turn the page at Zenefits and embrace a new set of corporate values and culture. Zenefits is now focused on developing business practices that will ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements, and making certain that the company operates with integrity as its number one value."

The company's new CEO, David Sacks, also sent a memo to employees, in which he declared: "We must admit that the problem goes much deeper than just process. Our culture and tone have been inappropriate for a highly regulated company."

So is sex on the stairs appropriate for a less regulated company?

Might the practice be used at fledgling startups for, say, bonding? Should new social-media companies emphasize the all-encompassing nature of the word "social" in the office? The possibilities are tantalizing.

As the national culture changes, so does workplace culture.

Until, that is, you suddenly have a valuation of $4.5 billion. Then the stairs are good only for walking.

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