Yahoo! and the Cult of the Engineer...

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.

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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

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8 comments
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  • Play up his engineering credentials?

    Did he have any engineering credentials to begin with?
    William Farrel
  • Padding your resume is pdding your resume

    And getting caught doing it is an embarassment no matter who you are or what excuses you make.

    Not that it hasnt stopped people as prominant as Carl Sagan from doing it.
    jeffpk
  • Engineer? Think not!

    Having a BS in engineering, I am insulted by a "computer science" major to be called an "engineer".
    tspencer@...
    • Food fight!

      Let the flames begin!
      Robert Hahn
    • Yes

      I could see how being given credit that you don't deserve could be considered insulting to you.

      But keep working hard, and one day you won't feel so hesitant about being lumped in with the smart guys. ;)
      SlithyTove
    • Who cares?

      Having Mastered BS [Bull S--t] is the only requirement of management.
      alan_r_cam
    • I agree with the author's interpretation

      While I don't think a computer science degree is nearly the achievement that an engineering degree is, I don't think one REQUIRES a degree to be an engineer at all, much less a good one.
      tkejlboom
  • Wow, really? Must be a slow news day.

    Engineers, by definition (one of many possible definitions actually):

    "a person who carries through an enterprise by skillful or artful contrivance "

    From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/engineer (entry 3c).

    Sounds like politicians and CEOs to me. Get over it people.
    PollyProteus