Kim Schmitz

The not-so-secret crushes of Silicon Valley fanboys

What if you could live a completely fictional life while raking in tens of millions of dollars in investment funds for your fantasy businesses? If I told you a woman did that, would you believe me? Of course, you wouldn’t. Women with eight-page professional resumes, sterling credit, and impeccable reputations can’t even get meetings with venture capitalists, let alone the investments needed to get their tech companies off the ground or into the next levels of access or success.

But pretend to be a bad boy hacker with mad technical skills and the techie fanboys will beat a path to your door and throw money at you. Kim Schmitz, the man behind Megaupload who is now in the news because he stepped on the wrong toes while blinded by his own megalomania, played that role to the hilt and was richly rewarded for it in money and fame. And no more so than now that he’s been outed for what he is and has been. The fanboys continue to slaver over him.

Tech writers have been devoting massive numbers of words to enshrine his antics, while pretending to be giving an accurate accounting. Such as in the Wired article “The Fast, Fabulous, Allegedly Fraudulent Life of Megaupload’s Kim Dotcom” by Sean Gallagher:

“In the early 1990s, Schmitz used a little hacker cred and the growing paranoia over the powers of computer hackers and phreakers to launch a media-powered cybersecurity career.”

What this writer doesn’t say is that what really happened was that Schmitz’s fanboys in the technology press and investment firms, as well as wannabe male geeks and nerds who support those enterprises, were only too happy to have a hero like Schmitz and to help him not only seem “bigger than life,” but to live the lifestyle they themselves craved. Also from the Wired article:

“Schmitz took advantage of the complete lack of technical credibility of reporters and the growing ‘hacker mystique’ to create a sexier, more dangerous version of himself—if not James Bond, then Dr. No.”

Does that sound like a reporter who has objective distance from his subject or rather someone who is exhibiting the very credulity and adoration that put Schmitz where he was in the first place? You can be sure it’s the latter — this writer has been working in the industry since Schmitz started his rise to fame and fortune, thanks to men just like this writer, and perhaps the writer himself.

From Schmitz’s deceitful beginnings, he went on to form companies for the sole purpose of getting money out of investors. And had no trouble doing so because he was selling an image that every man in that industry wanted a piece of. The writer of this article makes it clear that he thinks Schmitz is a sexy villain. He describes the married-with-children Schmitz’s porn-soaked fantasies as mere “fondness for models.” The wife gets a mention a few times, for a show of actual objective reporting.

You can read the rest of the article at Wired about Kim Schmitz to see for yourself that the writer has thinly disguised admiration for what Schmitz pulled off, while trying to give a gloss of objectivity (and respectability) to his reporting on the subject. The implication is clear: Schmitz is a problem because he went just a bit too far, not because he was a liar, a thief, and a scumbag. Contrast that with how few women have men writing devotional articles about their technical and business prowess, let alone have their tech companies funded. The technology world remains one big circle jerk.