This Bay Area coach charges 'powerful nerds' thousands to learn to be better lovers


Jessica Gold had lived in San Francisco and Oakland for 10 years when she had what’s almost a rite of passage for certain Bay Area sets: She came back from a week at Burning Man and realized that she needed to completely change her life. 

Gold’s background in neuroscience and biochemistry (including a Ph.D. at UC Berkeley) had earned her stints in laboratories and at a biotech firm, but after the annual desert retreat she found herself feeling jaded about work. She’d camped with a group focused on “authentic relating,” and spent the week immersed in conversation, embracing her vulnerability and feeling a deep sense of belonging.  

“After that experience, I went back to my cubicle and I looked around and I was like, 'This cannot be the rest of my life,'” she told SFGATE. The thought of continuing on her current path depressed her: “I said to my husband at the time, 'I don't know what I'm going to do, but I can't do this anymore.' And that catalyzed the career shift.” 

Today, Gold’s job description is both hyperspecific and perfectly Silicon Valley: “I'm a passionate relationship coach for powerful men in tech,” she said. In practice, that means she tries to help men who work in STEM become better lovers. She helps them gain confidence in their romantic partnerships, practice empathy and shuck their shame about discussing desire.

Her first step toward finding that niche blew up the structure of her life: She left the Bay Area (and eventually her marriage) and spent more than four years living in a tantric community on a Southeast Asian island. There, she said, she not only shed outdated ideas about love and sex that she’d formed as a conservative Christian growing up in West Texas, but also realized she wanted to help others do the same.

Dating and relationship coaching in general has gained steam in recent years, as people gravitate toward professional help that’s more “goal-oriented” than traditional therapy. For example, sex, love and relationship coaches will often give concrete advice or action plans to help people build or improve their partnerships. 

Gold decided to focus her practice on the tech industry because she was already familiar with that world and saw an opportunity to help fight the stereotype that men in tech are awkward. She’s had to battle other assumptions since starting her practice, too: She’s not a sex worker, but a relationship coach who talks about sex. (Though escorts that cater to specific industries are certainly a thing, too.)

As a coach for what she’s described as “powerful nerds,” she often relies on her background in tech to win over potential clients. Engineers or scientists she’s worked with often “don't trust the embodiment, somatics, conscious sexuality world,” she said. “But then they saw that I went to MIT.” 

Gold charges men $5,000 for a six-month group program, $15,000 for a six-month individual program or $3,000 for a single day of intensive coaching. She’s also started selling access to an AI “clone” trained on her coaching materials. A subscription to that product starts at $9.99 a month (and Gold insists it gives better advice than generic chatbots). 

To date, she’s had over 500 clients, she said, most of whom have been local to the Bay Area, though she  occasionally works with men in Los Angeles, Miami and New York. “I've worked with a lot of startup founders, CEOs, men who are consultants, or who already made their fortune and everything is working – except their relationship,” she said. 

She also had a recent visibility boost when a TedX talk she gave in Vancouver gained 40,000 views in 48 hours on YouTube. 

Her past clients who hail from the likes of Google, NASA, IBM, Hinge Health, Mastercard and McKinsey have told her that her training has helped them be better lovers, but also better fathers and leaders at work. One former client who currently works at Google and left a review on Gold’s LinkedIn said she helped him “realize truths that seem natural to me now, but were obscured” and used “techniques that allowed a very direct experience of realizations about me, the world, and my relationships.” 

Getting positive feedback from clients reinforces Gold’s thesis that the tech world needs more relationship resources that speak its language. 

“In coder lingo, relating and intimacy today, with our lack of effective education, is like skipping the staging environment and making that classic mistake of testing code directly in prod,” she said, referring to the way that engineers test their work extensively before it shows up in a live product. Coaching, she added, gives clients an opportunity “to develop robust 'relational code' and then fully test it in staging before you roll it out to production.”

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