Yahoo! and the Cult of the Engineer...

Summary:There's enormous focus on the "engineer" in culture of Silicon Valley. Engineers are the top dogs in most companies.

The discovery that Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson has been claiming to have a Computer Science degree for years, and did not correct statements that identified him as an "engineer" is not surprising given the strong "cult of the engineer" that is prevalent in Silicon Valley.

Kara Swisher at All Things D:

In 2009 Interview, Yahoo CEO Does Not Deny He Has a CS Degree

... Moira Gunn asked him a direct question about his college degrees, specifically noting they were in accounting and computer science.

... “And that’s really the background that I have, and it started back in my college days, and I think that’s really the wonderful part of being an engineer is you think that way,” said Thompson.

Being an engineer in Silicon Valley is essential is you want to lead a tech company or if you want to raise money at a startup. Most VCs, and the majority of Angels will not invest in companies that don't have tech "lead."

Also, being an engineer doesn't necessarily mean you have to have a Computer Science degree. Many top engineers are dropouts, many are self-taught, or took some computer science courses but majored in different subjects.

Mr Thompson clearly felt enormous pressure to play up his engineering credentials because that's what's rewarded in Silicon Valley. Yet it's not academic credentials that mark success in Silicon Valley, it's leadership and successful exits that matter the most.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Hardware


In May 2004, Tom Foremski became the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, the Financial Times, to become a full-time journalist blogger. He writes the popular news blog Silicon Valley Watcher--reporting on the business of Silicon Valley. Tom arrived in San Francisco in 1984, and has covered US technology markets for leading comput... Full Bio

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