Revenge of the Nerds

Move Over, Social Media Bigwigs: The Real ‘Nerds’ are Back in Town

How's that stock doing? Yeah, that's what we thought.
 Move Over, Social Media Bigwigs: The Real Nerds are Back in Town

No hoodies for this guy. Marcus Ryu, CEO of Guidewire. (Photo: Business and Leadership)

As one of her very first posts for Betabeat, this reporter said “fuck it” and wrote a melodramatic lament of the fact that the tech scene has become overrun with popular kids and self-quantifying jocks, designer jean-wearing business douches and people who think a familiarity with CSS is the same as knowing how to code. “We Need to Make Tech Uncool Again,” we implored, calling for the ponytailed Linux users to inherit what’s rightfully theirs.

We were kind of joking, but kind of not. Perhaps it was a personal reaction to the rise of brogramming. Whatever it was, it seems we may finally be getting our wish.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that unsexy startups like those with B2B offerings are beginning to generate buzz akin to that of savvier social media startups. The “Silicon Valley wallflowers” of these businesses, the Journal writes, can barely contain themselves. One has gained 20 pounds as a result of his recent successes. Another can’t keep up with his email.

Still, the Journal emphasizes that these entrepreneurs are truly of a different breed. “You’ll never see me in a hoodie,” one said.

Now that social media stocks have begun to tank, the Journal argues that investors are hungry for older, more experienced entrepreneurs who are building business to business software. Sandals and hoodies and dropping out of college are out. “Suddenly, the most in-demand tech guys often wear conservative dress shirts and slacks instead of the Web uniform of shorts and flip-flops,” writes the Journal. “Some drive 10-year-old Honda Civics. Many are downright ancient by Silicon Valley standards—at least in their mid-30s.”

We suppose this is a step in the right direction, though peddlers of B2B software are hardly the open source Richard Stallman worshippers we once called to lead us. At least the hoodies are starting to come off. But if these B2B wallflowers want to be called “real nerds,” they’re going to have to eat something from their foot in public.

Hey, we didn’t make the rules.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com