What does having a beard signify in Silicon Valley?

It makes you an evil CEO, of course!

By Tim Bartus

Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, was the subject of a recent piece in Fast Company, and he is now officially masking his pure evil with a beard. This is despite the image cache on the web containing mostly clean-shaven images of him. Steve Jobs, just in time for his eponymous film - a man who might have been at least slightly evil in real life - gets to shine, portrayed by Michael Fassbender, in a pre-launch row with Woz. I can’t confirm if Job’s character is ever bearded in the film - Woz’s is.

Backlash is mounting against the chin fuzz popularized by “hipsters,” but I don’t agree that this much-maligned group is as responsible as they have been made out to be. In my opinion, the resurgence in the beard is inspired by the glory days of facial hair: that is, the 1970’s. I offer the Bee Gees as evidence. However, I suspect, more than either of these reasons, growing a beard among the startup set probably means that there just isn’t time to drag a razor across one’s face. And sometimes, it’s easiest to maintain what you already have than get rid of it.

My beard falls into that category. When I didn’t have one, I was told it would itch terribly and act as catcher for all sorts of wonderful and strange things, but I’ve found both are myth. I think I have to get closer to the Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey’s epic “hipster” goatee to find treasures in my facial hair. But despite the misinformation, what can I say about the beard’s meaning in Silicon Valley? Having one probably doesn’t make you evil, but the sudden loss of a beard may signify you are courting the attentions of investors. And that’s worth losing some facial hair over.

And a quick note about Movember at the end here: it just so happens, I had forgotten that it was imminent. I just happened to be thinking about facial hair as the weather cools. However, I do like a good mustache, so feel free to go nuts out there. I think Lemmy from Motorhead is a good place to start.

Tim Bartus is videographer, video editor, and copy editor for Hackers/Founders