Soylent CEO’s Neighbors Hate His Shipping Container ‘House’

By Mike Pomranz |

Courtesy of Robert Rhinehart

You might expect the guy whose quest to give up food led him to create a meal replacement beverage empire to be a bit of an eccentric, but according to some of his Los Angeles neighbors, Rob Rhinehart, founder of Soylent, is a bit of a pain in the ass too. They’re request: That Rhinehart get his eyesore of a red, graffiti-covered, abandoned shipping container “house” out of the neighborhood.

The story began last December when Rhinehart bought a bit of land not far from Downtown Los Angeles at auction and began what The Guardian quoted him as calling an “experiment in sustainable living.” Said experiment apparently included the Soylent CEO plopping a red shipping container on his new water-less and electricity-less hilltop property and then installing solar panels and a portable toilet to make the shipping container a livable space.

But according to nearby residents, the metal rectangle has been nothing but trouble. The only real living they’ve noticed has been on the wild side, with a number of parties being hosted on the property. Over the course of its stay, the already garish shipping container has been covered in graffiti, had its windows smashed, and had its solar panels stolen. When the Guardian visited the space, the only signs of life remaining appeared to be a burned mattress – not quite the ideal accommodations for the man behind a startup valued at $100 million.

Related: THE 7 WEIRDEST CLAIMS IN THE SOYLENT CREATOR'S NEW MANIFESTO

To make matters worse, city officials say Rhinehart doesn’t have the permits to put a shipping container on the property to begin with. According to Curbed LA, his refusal to comply with orders to remove it could result in criminal charges. Rhinehart voiced his frustrations to the website. “In the city of Los Angeles one may not install a garbage disposal without seeking a permit,” he said. “I feel like I'm living in the movie Brazil.”

Meanwhile, the local community had a different take. “The red makes it feel like a middle finger,” Tamar Rosenthal, the neighborhood council president, told The Guardian. I wonder what movie she feels like she’s in? Maybe Neighbors? Though even then, Rhinehart gets the benefit of being compared to Zac Efron.

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