Morgan Mercer tightens the straps on my virtual reality headset, and moments later I’m transported from the basement of a Silicon Valley startup incubator to a modern, nondescript industrial office with high concrete ceilings and glass walls. My invisible avatar, like the Ghost of Yet-to-Come, stands in the middle of the room, among four white-collar employees—three men and a lone woman seated on a couch rifling through paperwork.
It’s clear the man posted behind the desk, vaguely older than the rest, is at the top of the hierarchal totem. He casually migrates from his mahogany throne to sit on the coffee table across from his female subordinate, leaning over as he praises her recent contributions to the team. The two other coworkers exchange glances only to return their gazes downward to the task at hand. Back in San Mateo, I’m suddenly warm and unwrap my scarf.