Like any group of frenemies, the tech elite descending upon Sun Valley, Idaho for the Allen & Co. conference today make statements about more than just their fashion sense with their outfit choices. They may not opt for anything that anyone would call fashionable, but even the tech nerd scene dresses to impress, or at least to make some sort of impact. As we learned from that Mark Zuckerberg hoodie non-controversy controvery during his IPO roadshow, clothes confer magical status on these guys. Taking a look at the what the tech nerds are wearing in front of their tech nerd colleagues, we can learn a lot about a tech CEO's persona and even their companies' aspirations. Really!
Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO
What he hopes his outfit says: Dorsey wants to look like the laid back renegade leader of a laid back renegade company. Unlike social media companies of the same age, Twitter hasn't gone the traditional growing up route. As Facebook has gone public, Dorsey has been all "I never want to grow up" with statements like the one he made earlier this week: "We are going to remain private as long as we want," he told The Los Angeles Times's Salvador Rodriguez. Also, with the simple plain white T with fancy sunglasses look, he wants to look like the company makes money but isn't obsessed with it. Of late, the company has gotten flack for turning into an advertising company, instead of living up to some other, greater potential. Dorsey wants to downplay an obsession with money, proving he's still the hip innovator of the bunch.
What it actually says: He almost pulled off that nonchalant thing with the plain, seemingly inexpensive white T-shirt. Even the glasses, though fancy, dressed up the outfit just enough for us to take him seriously. But then: the luggage. A man that carries a designer patterned suitcase cares about material goods. Not only does he care if he loses his luggage, but he wants to make a statement with it.
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO
What he hopes his outfit says: With his blue-jeans and almost too matchy T-shirt look, Zuckerberg wants us to note how little he has changed since taking his company public. He is richer than ever, but his outfits say he has not sold out and neither has Facebook. Even though he kind of sort of has, by making his company beholden to shareholders and stuff.
What it actually says: Don't think we didn't notice the lack of hoodie, Zuck. Though to some it might look sunny and summery in that photo, the woman with whom Zuckerberg arrived had on a long sleeve flowy cardigan deal (above), so it couldn't have been too warm for the hoodie. Plus, we know Zuckerberg doesn't care about temperature, keeping his sweatshirt on during that notorious swealtering (and therefore sweaty and awkward) AllThingsD interview. Considering Zuckerberg's hoodie gives the Facebook leader his CEO powers, the man without his signature garment can only lead us to believe that Zuckerberg no longer has the will or the means to properly lead Facebook.
Tim Cook, Apple CEO
What he hopes his outfit says: "I am not Steve Jobs." He couldn't dress too much like his famous predecessor, who had a signature black turtleneck, jeans, and New Balance thing going on. But he still wants to look like a tech boss who is killing it -- hence the transition lenses. (Those things aren't cheap!)
What it actually says: Apparently, he's the most popular guy at the conference but also trying hard to keep a low profile, per DealBook's Evelyn M. Rusli. That outfit says low profile, for sure. Pretty sure some dude in the law office next door has that same exact getup picked out for casual Friday. The blue-jeans have that laid-back Silicon Valley CEO thing. The striped button down is far enough removed from a black turtleneck—it has buttons!—that nobody could accuse him of copying Jobs. And transition lenses give off the impression he is as big a dork as he should be. Well done, Cook.
Mark Pincus, Zynga CEO
What he hopes his outfit says: With the colors and the hat he wants us to think he is just as fun and youthful as the games his company makes. The hat and sunglasses serve to cover up his wrinkly eyes and graying hair. But with the Telluride hat he reminds us he has rich boy-man interests: Film festivals. Pincus has written and tweeted about this hobby before. He's really wants us to know that this is his thing.
What it actually says: This outfit indeed reminds us of his games: Silly and cluttered (or cluttering our Facebook feeds). And, he doesn't really look as youthful as how hard he is trying to look youthful. Maybe he's overcompensating for insecurities about his company's too-close relationship with Facebook, which doesn't look so hot anymore? It also looks like he is wearing a Zynga t-shirt under there, which is exactly like wearing a band t-shirt to the band's concert.
Sergey Brin, Google Co-Founder
What he hopes his outfit says: He's wearing those Google glasses as an attempt to normalize what some have called creepy Terminator-esque inventions. The all-black -- or is that black on brown? -- is of course to emphasize the glasses. And we imagine the Crocs are for comfort, because that is the only reason anyone wears Crocs. Or maybe to downplay the creepy factor of his robot glasses?
What it actually says: It's hard to take anyone who wears Crocs seriously -- he looks like emo Mickey Mouse. The all black doesn't downplay his Google glasses, but rather makes him look like the wrong kind of futuristic, where we only see color through Google Glasses maybe? Horror! We want a future with color, please.
If all of our above CEOs have one thing in common, it is that they try painfully hard to look "cool" and "chill." However, none of them come close to cool killer media maven John Malone, pictured below (via Twitter) in that Hawaiian shirt. Hawaiian shirts aren't cool, you might say. But, the definition of cool is not caring. And, someone as rich and established as Malone obviously doesn't care what others think if he has the audacity to wear that pattern with those almost too short shorts. Take notes, boys.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.