Tech execs sometimes say dumb things -- just like everybody else

Tinder CEO Sean Rad’s bizarre interview on the eve of his parent company’s public offering this week almost upstaged the actual IPO.

Rad’s remarks, which included his now-famous confusion over the word “sodomy” and boasts of his apparently irresistible sexual charisma, were quickly followed by an SEC filing from noting that he was not authorised to speak for the company.

More worryingly, Rad also made some disconcerting comments in the interview about investigating the author of a negative article on Tinder that appeared in Vanity Fair.

Rad is hardly the first tech executive to make headlines for strange or controversial remarks. In fact, Apple music executive Jimmy Iovine was on the hot seat this week too, apologizing for comments he made about women needing help finding music.

Tech execs are the new rock stars. But they are clearly not immune from saying stupid things.

Here are some of the top regrettable moments among the tech industry’s leading lights:

  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella posted a letter on the company website in 2014 to apologise for saying that women uncomfortable asking for a raise should simply “have faith that the system will give you the right raise…it’s good karma.” In his mea culpa Nadella said his comments were “completely wrong.”
  • Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt raised eyebrows in 2009 when he appeared to dismiss public concerns about privacy by suggesting that only people doing something wrong should be worried about their privacy. “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”
  • Tom Perkins, a founding partner of venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (he is no longer involved with the firm) and a former HP board member, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in 2014 comparing criticism of the rich to the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the 1930s. He later said he made a terrible choice of words, though he stood by his message condemning hatred against a “minority,” in this case, the wealthy.
  • Uber executive Emil Michael got in hot water in 2014 for comments made during a private dinner in which a Buzzfeed journalist was in attendance. Michael detailed a plan to counter unfriendly press coverage by conducting “opposition research” into certain reporters. Michael later said the comments did not reflect his or the company’s actual views and were made out of frustration at what he perceived to be sensationalistic media coverage. Uber noted that the comments were made during a private dinner that was supposed to be an off the record affair.

All in all, it’s good reminder that the captains of tech, for all their success, are not always worth emulating.

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