The day that geeks ruled the world… TodayOct 17, 2015 Blog Entrepreneur , Geek , Success , Technology
The rise of the geek; how technology became the driving force of cool
Once upon a time, the term geek was used as a slang term for loser. It was hurled across playgrounds in taunts. It was delivered scathingly as a reason to turn down dates. But in the past decade, the tables have turned. The once socially rejected ‘geeks’ are now the cool kids on the block. Hot chicks and sporty boys are donning thick rimmed glasses, and it seems that everybody wants a piece of that ‘geek-chique’.
So what happened? We all know Bill Gates and Steve Jobs revolutionised the technology industry – but who’s running the show now? And how did they turn the tables on the ‘geek’ negativity?
Shawn Fanning & Sean Parker
The ascent of geek into world-straddling coolness arguably began with childhood friends Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker – the men who launched the industry changing, P2P transfer programme Napster, in 1998.
Napster was the original music sharing programme. It allowed users connected to the internet to share audio files (usually music) in an MP3 format. It was a pioneer in P2P file sharing technology, and was the first wave of cool tech.
Combine the rock and roll glamour of the music industry, and the questionable legal status of the programme and it’s use, and you have the ultimate recipe for cool. And since moving on from Napster, both Fanning and Parker have made millions (and billions, respectively) investing and working for other tech revolutionaries. That’s how two teens who met in an internet chatroom ended up as big players in the world markets.
What list of successful ‘geeks’ would be complete without mentioning Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg? Now almost as famous for his face and story (dramatized in Hollywood Blockbuster The Social Network) as he is for his product, Zuckerberg is worth a cool $41.2 billion.
Facebook was created in a Harvard dorm-room and was originally a site for students at one college to connect with each other. Zuckerberg successfully took his small web programme to something global and iconic, making himself extremely wealthy in the meantime. Zuckerberg is without a doubt one of the most influential people on the internet – now that’s cool.
Unlike our other tech entrepreneurs, Jeff Bezos came to the internet a little later on in life. When he was a kid ‘geek’ most definitely was not cool, and computer technology was still in it’s earlier stages. However, Jeff struck while the iron was hot; left his high paying job and set up Amazon.com in 1994, after noticing that the internet was growing at 2400% per year.
Now, the teenager who set up a space-themed summer camp for neighbourhood kids in the 70’s is a technology billionaire; most recently being valued at a distinctly non-geeky $46.7 billion. Plus, his website is used across the globe, has completely disrupted retail markets and is the go-to for online shopping. That’ll show ‘em.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin
Yet another pair of students who changed the online landscape forever and got extremely rich in the process! Larry Page and Sergey Brin were PHD students when they first created Google (or BackRub as it was originally known). Run out of their friend’s garage, these two young men brought their wit and personality to their search engine – not to mention an instinct for algorithms. The first Google Doodle incorporated the Burning Man festival logo (it was to let their audience know where they would be over a few days absence).
Running your own search engine out of your friend’s garage could be considered prototypal ‘geek’; but with both men now valued at over $33 billion – geek’s looking like a pretty cool label to us.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger
The next generation of tech wizards… Another student pairing, these Stanford alumni are the founders of Instagram, which was bought by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012.
The sale of Instagram to Facebook is important, because it shows what the best technology innovators do – keep changing. By 2012 Facebook was beginning to feel a little dated, so buying in to the fresh talent (and multi-million hipster audience) of Instagram was a perfect way to keep up with the competition. We’re excited to see what Systrom and Krieger achieve next.
Technology has become more than just a means to an end. Where it was once consigned to giant computers and aeroplanes and hospital equipment, it is now in our ears, on our tables, in our pockets and connects us to the people in our lives.
While the stereotype of ‘geeks’ involved in tech was traditionally considered anti social and introverted – the technology they created has enabled the worldwide community to be more communicative and more connected than ever before. Technology that lets you call your family when you’re far away; buy birthday gifts without leaving your desk; download your favourite songs at the click of a button; and see what Kim Kardashian’s wearing today. Geeks found a way to give consumers what they wanted, and that’s why they rule the world, today.