The Suits vs. the Geeks

    October 4, 2006

I’m sitting with a bunch of suits right now. It’s the Savvis Web 2.0 conference. Almost all men. A large percentage of whom are older than me.

This is NOT the YouTube generation. Although they sure talk about it and talk about MySpace (one speaker suggested that everyone should have a MySpace page for each of their products).

It’s interesting to see the difference between this audience and the folks who showed up at the Podcasting Expo last week. There was a lot more energy there. But a lot less money and power. This room reeks of power. That room reeked of creativity and fun.

I’m seeing this “geek vs. suits” separation more often lately.

Yesterday I went to lunch at a country club over on Sand Hill Road. They wouldn’t let me in because I was wearing jeans. “Excuse me?” I said in my head. After all, it was people in jeans (denim, they called it) who made the products and services that made all those VCs so rich that they could have a private club to hang out at and play golf at.

They made me sit outside for lunch. Which was just fine. My host (who helped fund the country club) and I had a good laugh about that.

It reminded me of the time when I worked the counter at LZ Premiums in San Jose. A guy came in with ratty jeans and a T-shirt. I treated him the same way I treated all the suits that came in. He noted that and bought a nice camera system. Later, after he kept coming back in and buying a lot of stuff, I learned he was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Said that I was the first sales guy who treated him well, which is why he brought his business back to me.

Last night I saw it again. I wore my standard jeans and T-shirt to a press meeting hosted by (a cool shopping search engine, they released a research report that found that people liked their shopping search engine better than Google). Everyone else was dressed up.

I’m gonna put my jeans on and hang out with the geeks this weekend at Code-Camp in Silicon Valley. No Beck, but no suits either.

The real action in the valley is still with the folks who wear jeans and T-shirts. No matter how much all the suits try to avoid that.

When did Silicon Valley go all suity on me? It’s certainly a sign that we’re back in a bubble. In 2001 when everyone was unemployed I rarely saw suits. Now that the money is back I’m seeing a lot more suits.

Not a good sign.


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Robert Scoble is the founder of the Scobleizer blog. He works as’s Vice President of Media Development.

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