Life Tech The controversial lives of the world’s top tech-heads

The controversial lives of the world’s top tech-heads

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The billionaire founder of Snapchat, 24-year-old Evan Spiegel, abruptly cancelled his planned Q&A session at Sydney University earlier this month.

No official reason was given for the last minute change, but Silicon Valley’s youngest and most successful entrepreneur probably deserves a little leeway.

The last few months have seen Snapchat and its founder attracting followers and controversy in equal measure. There was the messy lawsuit with ousted co-founder Reggie Brown, public arguments with journalists, a bikini photo scandal, and a series of deeply unflattering and sexist emails released from his college fraternity days.

Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel.

All of which is actually quite dull and mundane when compared with Tech’s most outlandish CEOs.

That elite group of Silicon Valley identities are just as famous for their trail of dead bodies, police raids, drug overdoses, viral videos, and private islands as they are for their inventions.

Here are the five most notorious…

John McAfee

John McAfee’s legacy may be the development of the first anti-virus computer software back in 1987, but the real story is his time in Central America as a strung out junkie with a harem of local women and a murdered neighbour.

Long story short, McAfee freaked out when the police came to question him about the dead guy, fled to neighbouring Guatemala, was tracked down by Vice magazine for a documentary, completely lost his mind to bad paranoia, and ended up in a local prison.

He was such a nightmare to deal with, the Guatemala government eventually threw him on plane back to the US. No charges relating to the dead man were ever filed against McAfee.

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Steve Ballmer

Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is one of the company’s earliest employees, and joined the Redmond ‘start-up’ way back in 1980. He’s also a math genius. But none of that is as interesting as his over the top persona and tendency to get dangerously excited. Ballmer may look like a suburban dad, but get him on stage and he turns into a frothing maniac.

He’s the unintentional star of several YouTube videos, including the infamous ‘Get on Your Feet’ keynote (see video below), and his “developers, developers, developers!” rant.

By all accounts, he’s just as ‘exuberant’ behind the scenes, and has been known to swing office chairs over his head until he becomes airborne during board meetings.

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Kim DotCom

To say Kim DotCom has a colourful past would be a gross understatement. The German-born hacker, entrepreneur, and Call of Duty champion has a rap sheet that dates back to the 90s.

But it was Megaupload, the file hosting and sharing site he set up in 2005, that would both make his fortune and have the FBI chasing him across the globe.

After being kicked out of several countries due to various ‘unpleasantness’, Dotcom eventually took up residency in New Zealand, renting a $30 million dollar country estate.

People around the world got a first hand look at the mansion when footage was released showing a New Zealand swat team (complete with helicopter) raiding the overweight computer nerd’s home.

He’s still fighting extradition attempts to the US.

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Sean Parker

There’s basically two Sean Parkers, the one portrayed by Justin Timberlake in the Facebook movie, and the real Sean. And the second one is infinitely more intriguing – the type of guy that will spend $4.5 million on a fantasy themed wedding and then write a ten-thousand-word defensive of said wedding during his own honeymoon.

But then Sean was never your typical computer guy. He was earning an estimated $80,000 a year in high school from various start-up ventures, was approached by the CIA in his teens after developing a web app, launched Napster aged 20, and helped turn Facebook into a multi-billion dollar company.

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Larry Ellison

Sixty-seven-year old Larry Ellison is basically a real life Tony Stark. And while we can’t vouch for is superpowers, he’s embraced the playboy billionaire role with great enthusiasm, amassing a huge collection of real estate, yachts, private jets and trophy wives.

When not overseeing his data management company, Oracle, he’s maxing out his $1 billion dollar credit card limit (2002), commissioning $200 million yachts, flying private jets under the Golden Gate bridge, and marrying/divorcing a string of women.

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