It used to be that the world was run by the guys with big personalities, great looks, and a good golf swing.  That said, the Internet has changed all that, thanks to a little (OK big) thing called ecommerce.  The world of ecommerce has become a wonderland of success for the geeks and nerds of our time.  Now it matters far less whether or not you can stay under par, and matters more if you can create a great online shopping solution, master the language of web code, and keep your site running once all the traffic starts pouring in. So, geek or nerd, how do you identify?  If you don’t view yourself as one or the other, you might be missing out on the Holy Grail of financial opportunity!

To prove our point, we created this infographic that profiles some of the top geeks and nerds in the world of ecommerce.  From Jeff Bezos to Natalie Massenet, these intelligent gurus are making bank – with billions in net worth and a minimum of millions in yearly revenues to their online stores. Check out this rundown of uber-geek power!


Infographic: The Age of the Ecommerce Geek


Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Geeks: The Richest Geeks in the World


The Geeks

Jeff Bezos – CEO of (duh). His net worth almost twenty billion dollars. One notable thing about this eccentric billionaire is that when he was younger he rigged up an electric alarm to keep his brothers and sisters out of his room. Then, a la Dexter, he turned his parents’ garage into a laboratory. His love of experimentation hasn’t waned. In 2004 he “launched” a new company called “Blue Origin.” The goal: human space flight from a private company. Take that, Sir Richard.

Jack Ma – Founder of Alibaba. Alibaba, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the biggest internet groups in China (which has, you know, a few people). The company’s crazy internet success may be fueled in part by Ma’s combative upbringing. For starters, he suffered from stunted growth as a child. To make matters worse, his family was ostracized for siding with counter-revolutionary forces during China’s cultural revolution. This meant he got into a lot of fights. This probably turned him into the scrappy ecommerce geek that he is today with a net worth of close to 2 billion dollars.

Pierre Morad Omidyar – Founder and chairman of eBay. So yeah, there’s this little auction site (you’ve probably never heard of it) but it’s called eBay. So, more than 15 years ago, Pierre had a long weekend off and was feeling bored. Like most power ecommerce geeks, he hates having time on his hands, so he said: “I know, I’ll write the original code for an auction house that will eventually revolutionize online buying and selling.” So a case of diet Dr Pepper later (not confirmed) he emerged from his basement and launched the site “Auction Web.” Fast forward to today: almost 7 billion dollar net worth. Boom. Just like that.

Kevin Ryan – Fashion ecommerce geek and founder of Gilt Groupe. Got a taste for the finer things in life? Then you want to know all about Kevin Ryan, founder of Gilt Groupe (you can tell it’s fancy because it’s got an extra “e” on the end!). He scored a BA from Yale in ’85, then got an MBA from INSEAD (which is totally in France!) five years later. Gilt Groupe was founded in 2007 and has raised nearly 80 million dollars in financing at time of writing. Kevin’s geek power is so awesome that by the time you finish reading this, he’ll probably have raised even more money.

Reed Hastings – Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix. Many geeks love math. Reed loved math so much that he majored at math at Bowdoin college where he won the department’s Smyth Prize and Hammond Prize. He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 1983 and has spent the intervening years trying to improve the educational system. In 2010 he earned 5.5 million dollars in compensation.

Patrick M. Byrne – CEO of Mr. Byrne (“Byrne-ing Man” to his friends – also NOT confirmed) might just be the most educated individual on our list. Despite being way more than normal, he somehow earned a certificate from “Beijing Normal University” alongside his BA in Chinese studies, which he got from a little school called Dartmouth. He decided that they looked lonely on his wall, so he scooped up a masters from Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar. Then to finish off his (current) accomplishments, he got a PhD in Philosophy from Stanford (which I think was his fallback school). Byrne has founded 19 schools internationally, most of which he built by hand with bricks he bakes himself (fictional!). So how much does all that learning get you per year? Byrne takes home only $171,300, probably because he’s worked out that it’s the exact amount that he needs to be happy and provide for all his needs (PhD in Philosophy, remember?).

Tony Hsieh – CEO of Zappos. Geeks know all about treating people with kindness and respect, usually because most of us didn’t get a lot of that from our peers growing up. Rather than being mean to people when we are in control, many geeks decide to try to make the world a better place. Tony’s contribution to the happiness of the world was to create an ecommerce business where every customer service decision was geared DIRECTLY towards making every customer as happy as possible (when buying shoes, anyway). Fellow ecommerce geek Jeff Bezos loved this so much that in 2009 he called up Tony and was like: “I’d like to place an order.” and Tony said: “Okay, what would you like to order?” and Jeff said: “Your whole company.” and Tony, wanting to deliver an awesome customer service experience, quoted Jeff a number. Amazon acquired Zappos for 1.2 billion dollars. Tony then went on to write a book calledDelivering Happiness, all about his entrepreneurial experiences. It spent almost 7 months on the best seller list.

Natalie Massenet – Executive Chairman (Chair-WOMAN!) of Let’s face it: geeks and girls don’t always get along. But what about girls who are themselves geeks? Well Natalie is an ecommerce geek who is also a woman and who is also shrewd when it comes to business. Starting off as a fashion editor at Women’s Wear Daily in 1993, the left that job to start her own business: Net-a-Porter. Seventeen years later she sold her shares for fifty million British Pounds (which is like, a lot in American money!). Even without her shares, she stayed on as Executive Chair and will probably put all that money she raised back into her own company to make it even more awesome – because that’s how she rolls. Her site, by the way, gets about 2 million logins every weekend and each person’s average spend is 500 British Pounds (translation: a LOT).