Wednesday 21 March 2018

Meet the TWAGs: tech nerds' wives and girlfriends

Teacup dogs and Birkin bags have had their day. A brainy boffin boyfriend is the latest status symbol

Falling for intelli-gents: Miranda Kerr with Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel
Falling for intelli-gents: Miranda Kerr with Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel
Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian
Paddy Cosgrove with Faye Dinsmore

Tanya Sweeney

Who was it said that the geek shall inherit the earth? At the very least, he's getting the girl.

Once upon a time, Hollywood's A-list actresses couldn't get enough of hedonistic rock stars, creative geniuses and alpha-male actors. And nowadays, the trophy boyfriend for the world's most beautiful women is an unlikely one: the science boffin. Bye bye Birkins, move over teacup dogs: these days, the internet entrepreneur is the new status symbol.

Since Apple became the coolest company in the world and everyone started living their lives online, the nerd has reached the top of the eligible bachelor pile - factor in millions of dollars and… well, you can probably see the appeal.

And unlike the aforementioned rock stars and actors, most internet moguls came from the bottom of the social totem pole to become the world's most aspirational and envied figures. Better again, internet moguls' success stories show inventive and innovative risk-takers who need to be smart and charming enough to get their project off the ground.

Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian
Serena Williams and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian

This week, reports abound that freshly divorced Amber Heard is "besotted" with billionaire entrpreneur Elon Musk. It was rumoured as far back as August that South African-born Musk - CEO of Tesla - "relentlessly pursued and was infatuated with" the actress after crossing paths with her on the set of 2013 movie Machete Kills, sending her numerous emails in a bid to win a meeting.

And when it comes to colourful personal lives, Musk's is almost as compelling as his new girlfriend's. At the time of pursuing Heard, Musk was in the process of divorcing his wife Talulah Riley - again. Musk (45) and Riley (30) first wed in 2010 at a ceremony held in Scotland, but divorced shortly after in 2012.

He announced on Twitter that it had been an "amazing" few years and he would always love her, paying out $4.2million in a settlement. Months after the first divorce, they were back together - and remarried in July 2013. Divorce papers were again filed in December 2014, with the couple insisting the split was amicable.

Much like Amber Heard, model Miranda Kerr (33) had a 'starter marriage', in this case to actor Orlando Bloom, before moving on to Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel (26). Spiegel, incidentally, is one of the world's youngest self-made billionaires. The pair, who started dating in June 2015, shared news of their marriage via - obviously - social media back in July with a picture of her eye-popping diamond ring, complete with custom Snapchat filter.

That said, the two are keeping their relationship under wraps for the most part, but Kerr has said: "We were really good friends for a long time before we started dating. We've just been having fun together and sharing our time amongst friends and family."

Tennis star Serena Williams has long been at the top of her game and so has her new fiance - Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit. Earlier this month, the pair, who have been quietly seeing each other since late 2015, announced their engagement with a post on Reddit. Alongside an illustration of the couple in the form of a pair of Reddit's alien mascots, Williams shared a poem: "Down on one knee/He said 4 words/And I said yes."

Predictably, there are other TWAGs - that's techie wives and girlfriends - in A-list social circles, too. After dating rugby player Matthew Janney, actress Emma Watson has fallen hard for William Mack Knight, a manager at Medallia. He's no run-of-the-mill geek, mind: educated at Princeton and a native of one of New York's wealthiest suburbs, he describes himself as both an 'adventurer' and 'naturalist'.

Model Lily Cole, herself an Oxbridge graduate with brains to burn, dated the Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in 2013. Later, Cole had a son with Kwame Ferreira, founder of the digital innovation agency Kwamecorp. Fellow model Karlie Kloss also went public with her relationship with venture capitalist Joshua Kushner in 2012 (at a Victoria's Secret after-party).

Elsewhere, Allison Williams - one of the stars of the HBO hit Girls - is married to Ricky Van Veen, co-founder of the popular website College Humour. And famously, artist Elissa Patel met Airbnb founder Brian Chesky on Twitter and he posted a picture of her in bed to promote his website. Talk about a 21st century romance.

Paddy Cosgrove with Faye Dinsmore

Closer to home, model Faye Dinsmore started dating Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave (above) long before he rose to prominence as a force to be reckoned with in the tech world. The two met during their time at Trinity College, Dublin. And as would befit tradition, last year the couple announced the news of Faye's first pregnancy on social media. The baby's name, as revealed on Facebook? Cloud.

Even Hollywood hunks are beginning to notice the appeal of the start-up mogul: though he is happily married to Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher has reportedly learned how to code. Not only that, he has - according to a report in Forbes magazine late last year - built up a $250m start-up portfolio after investing in a number of companies like Airbnb, Spotify and Foursquare.

Of course, now that Silicon Valley is the new epicentre of talent, thoughts turn to the next wave of eligible geeks. For a start, there's the handsome CEO of, Ben Rattray, who reportedly has no time for a girlfriend. Also on the market still is Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

And of course, there's Snapchat co-founder (and Spiegel's business partner) Bobby Murphy (27) who reportedly owns a $2m home on Venice Beach, California. A house with sea views and a potential playdate pal in Miranda Kerr? That's a merger we can fully get behind.

Irish Independent

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