In honor of SXSW Interactive, the ten hottest nerds in cyberspace.
10. Lauren Leto, founder of TextsFromLastNight.com
There's nothing like turning the asshole texts your boyfriend sent you into a massively successful, slightly disturbing but undeniably entertaining website — called TextsFromLastNight, of course. Yeah, it’s a multimillion-dollar company, with a book that came out in January and a production deal for a sitcom in the works, but, as the texters would say, NBD. Lauren isn’t fazed by the accolades, the bras, panties, and occasionally dildos thrown in her direction (okay, fine, that only happens on her website) — she just sold her next book, Judging a Book by Its Lover. I can't wait.
9. Mallory Blair & Bianca Caampued, founders of Small Girls PR
Mallory and Bianca are small girls. At 5’3” and 5’‘0’, respectively, Mallory and Bianca named their less-than-a-year-old social-media PR agency literally: Small Girls PR. “Small girls,” they like to say, “big business!” Teeny but packed with personality, these two ladies dominate the geek boys in everything they do: they can out-Tweet, out-Tumblr, out-digitally-strategize any Y chromosome — and they do it with charm and Colgate-white smiles. This month, they’re actually wearing prom dresses every day for a month on TakeMeToTheProm.com to promote their new client, pageant/gown designer Sherri Hill. Adorable technophiles donning giant poofy gowns and live-blogging the whole thing? I'm smitten. When someone finally throws Prom 2.0 — I know who you'll want your dates to be.
8. Greg Ferenstein, contributing writer, Fast Company
What's better than a mensch-y tech writer with a master's in mathematical behavioral sciences? How about a mensch-y tech writer with a master’s in mathematical behavior sciences… who also practices Capoeira, an “acrobatic Brazilian martial art”? That’s a geek's geek right there. This one can banter, whine, and trade dorky insults like Woody Allen 2.0 in tight white tennis shorts. Your mother will love him, and your kids will be inducted to Mensa upon fertilization. They will also be legally blind. But, if that's the price one pays for bifocaled brilliance, I say it's worth it.
7. Andy Howell, Brand Director of Zazzle, Founder/GM of Artsprojekt
Andy is almost too cool to be a real geek — he surfs, skateboards, paints, makes ‘zines, calls them ‘zines, loves punk and hip-hop, and knows his way around a spray-can. Oh, and have I mentioned his abs? I haven’t? I should. They are bodacious, and I mean that in the most ironically hip of ways. Andy’s all kinds of badass, and loves making an artistic statement, and there’s nothing a girl likes more than her name tagged all across the city — or, you know, on the back of an iPhone case designed specially for her.
6. Rachel Sklar, founder of ChangeTheRatio and Charitini.
She's bouncing, bubbly, grinning, and ridding the world of snark and bigotry one Canadian compliment at a time — if you haven’t yet made the acquaintance of Miss Rachel Sklar, power-lawyer turned New York media goddess, you, my dear, are missing out on a world of happiness. Effusive, effervescent, with a propensity towards prolific parentheticals (exclamation mark!), Rachel is the Editor-at-Large of Mediaite.com, founded ChangeTheRatio to help educate women entrepreneurs, and launched the online charity site Charitini, making her arguably the world’s cuddliest feminist reporter and entrepreneurial philanthropist.
5. Christopher Poole, founder of 4Chan
If power is an aphrodisiac, what is having a horde of anonymous soldier-hackers at your every control open-apple command? One word: 01101000 01101111 01110100. That’s right: hot… in binary! In fact, Poole’s loyal band of online followers managed to earn his 4Chan alter-ego a place on Time's 100’s Most Influential People List in 2009. Not bad for a guy who was known only by the code-name “Moot” until July of 2008. He's spoken everywhere from Yale to MIT (he was one of the keynotes at this year's SXSW Interactive), he's still in his early twenties, and with his sandy blondish locks and tall, lanky frame, Poole is a veritable geek Adonis — a total catch for any gorgeous geekette.
4. Andrew Mason, founder of Groupon
Andrew Mason is, in a word, delectable. You want to eat him like a very soft pot brownie, because that’s how you feel when you read some of the amazingly bizarre and hilarious things he says: high. Very, very, very high. Mason is one of the few entrepreneurs running a company valued in the billions (that’s B, for B-whoa!) whose Facebook profile picture is him… cradling a doll. He has posed in too-short gym shorts while riding a 1970s stationary bike and eating a cookie. But if, upon gazing at his cherubic little face, you don’t want to just squeeze his bunny rabbit chipmunk cheeks like the billionaire munchkin he is, I really don’t know what’s wrong with you.
3. Soraya Darabi, ABC News tech correspondent, co-founder of Foodspotting
Who is that girl on the cover of Fast Company — the one who now talks about tech on Good Morning America? Oh, you know, just a total hottie who graduated from Georgetown, went on to basically run New York social media as the manager of digital partnerships at the New York Times — and somehow, in that time, amass a mind-bending 440,000 Twitter followers (@SorayaDarabi). Yow! Nothing gets a geek excited like half a mil on a social-media network. Damn, lady, retweet me, will you?
2. Jesse Draper, host of ValleyGirl.TV
In the khakis-as-default world of technology, Jesse Draper’s character “Valley Girl” has no trouble standing out: think Legally Blonde gets a brunette dye job, and moves to San Francisco, where she (and her entirely pink wardrobe) set up shop as a pretend Silicon Valley Barbie-in-residence. It’s impossible not to fall for the charming twenty-five-year-old UCLA theater grad, who has no trouble disarming a normally staid Palo Alto crowd with faux naivete, a spattering of “likes” (acting, my dear), and a genuine appreciation for geekery. Everyone from MC Hammer to Eric Schmidt has sat on her vaunted pink couch — but how can the rest of us get her digits?
1. Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes
Blake is that rarest of species — the earnest entrepreneur who just so happens to have a perfectly symmetrical face, perma-tan, and athletic build (from all that outdoorsy do-gooding and walking in those do-gooder shoes). It’s impossible to resist that fluffy mop of “I-probably-wash-with-Tom's-of-Maine-natural-shampoo” hair, and his impassioned speeches about discovering children in Argentina with no shoes just stoke the flames of our geek-hippie (gippie?) loving hearts. But surviving reality television (the second season of The Amazing Race) with your value system intact? Now that’s hot.
Julia Allison is an internationally syndicated social media columnist, TV personality, public speaker, founder of NonSociety.com and former Wired cover girl. Read more at SocialStudiesColumn.com, email her at SocialStudiesColumn@gmail.com, FB friend her at Facebook.com/JuliaAllison, follow breaking social media news @SocialStudies and her personal twitter @JuliaAllison.