Now it’s chic to be a geek

Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis have been billed as ‘Two Wild and Crazy Moguls... the elusive entrepreneurs who are transforming the way the world communicates’. They are credited with one of the biggest shake-ups of the $300bn global telephone industry since Alexander Graham Bell made the first call in 1876. No phone is safe from their ambition to replace traditional fixed-line networks with Skype, a service that allows people to speak to each other over the Internet — free.

Swede Zennstrom, 39 and Friis, a 29-year-old Dane, are said to be “equipped with boyish energy and one lazy eye each,” spending their time in London, Luxembourg and Skype ‘s technical HQ in Tallinn, Estonia. Zennstrom and Friis are presented as the embodiment of “geek chic,” a niche that has always eluded Microsoft tycoon Bill Gates. A new book, ‘Geek Chic,’ by Neil Feineman, claims: “After years of persecution, ridicule and never getting the girl, geeks are hot. They are on the cover of magazines and win awards at the Oscars and the Baftas. They are the geeks, and their time has come.”

Zennstrom and Friis — the brains behind the music download business Kazaa, which they left in 2002 because of legal actions launched by the music industry — have also earned comparisons with two of their heroes, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the multi-billionaire founders of Internet search engine Google.