Forget rock stars and Hollywood hunks — glamorous ‘founder-hounders’ are out to catch the geeky bosses of Silicon Valley start-ups
The 9.6m followers who tune in to watch Miranda Kerr having her hair done on Instagram — for this is how models spend most of their time — were treated to a rather more interesting sight last Thursday: a black and white photograph of a whacking great diamond ring. Across it was the caption “Marry me!” and a twee animation of the tech mogul Evan Spiegel on bended knee. Underneath Kerr had typed “I said yes!!!” and an explosion of heart emojis.
A spokesman for Spiegel, founder of the Snapchat mobile app, who is 26 to Kerr’s 33 and worth $2.1bn (£1.6bn) to her $42.5m, revealed “they are very happy”. He declined to add whether Spiegel was disappointed Kerr had not announced their engagement, which already has 447,000 “likes”, as a Snapchat “story”.
At first, the marriage seems an unlikely combination: a man so bright he founded Snapchat while still at Stanford University, becoming one of the world’s youngest self-made billionaires by 22, and a Victoria’s Secret model who was previously married to the Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom (she allegedly had a fling with pop brat Justin Bieber, leading Bloom to punch Beebs in a posh Ibiza restaurant).
Perhaps the union indicates that there is more to Kerr than we thought. More likely, it reveals something about Spiegel — and the way the social status of “geeks” has changed.
Since Steve Jobs made computers cool and Millennials started living online, nerds are king. Even coding is sexy enough for the model Karlie Kloss, singer will.i.am and actor Ashton Kutcher to learn it. Silicon Valley has become the new Hollywood, as moguls and social media barons take over from film stars and sportsmen not just on rich lists, but as alpha men.
Being a co-founder of a company is this decade’s equivalent to being a rock star or a chef. And, if their attractiveness to models and actresses proves anything, then being a Twag — tech wife or girlfriend — is a “thing”. Sources tell me Twags are also known as “founder-hounders” because they like to date the creators of start-up companies.
Actress Talulah Riley was an early adopter. She started dating the PayPal founder Elon Musk in 2008. Riley, then fresh from starring in the St Trinian’s film, met Musk in London’s Whisky Mist nightclub after he had delivered a lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society. I interviewed her shortly afterwards and she told me they had spent the evening talking about “quantum physics”. A month later they were engaged. Their on-again-off-again marriage lasted six years before she filed for divorce again in March. Currently Musk, worth an estimated $12.7 billion and focused on Tesla cars, is said to be “spending a lot of time” with Johnny Depp’s estranged wife, Amber Heard.
Model Lily Cole dated the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in 2013. Later she had a son with Kwame Ferreira, founder of the digital innovation agency Kwamecorp. Actress Emma Watson is going out with William Knight, an “adventurer” who has an incredibly boringly sounding job as a senior manager at Medallia, a software company. Allison Williams, Marnie in the HBO television show Girls, is married to Ricky Van Veen, co-founder of College Humor website.
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