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A Taxonomy of Silicon Valley–Hollywood Romances

When the Bay meets L.A.

Getty Images
Getty Images

Some celebrities date nonfamous “normie” people. Amy Schumer, for instance, dates a burly furniture designer. Julia Roberts married a cameraman. Khloé Kardashian even dated some unemployed guy named French Montana! Many other celebs, however, prefer to date within their famousness castes — which meant, for a long time, that they dated other actors or musicians or athletes. Nowadays, however, there’s a new fame pool to pluck from: Silicon Valley’s elite.

There are many advantages to dating a Silicon Valley elite. They will likely be extremely rich, even richer than your average celebrity. They will know about the latest apps. If someone invents a recreationally enjoyable nootropic, you’ll surely learn about it first. On the downside, they will probably make you drink Soylent and maybe make you endorse a blinkered, fuzzily libertarian/technocratic worldview that devalues representational democracy and realism.

Whatever the pros and cons, there has been a recent spate of celebrity–Silicon Valley romances in the past year. Just last week, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel and model Miranda Kerr announced their engagement (over Snapchat, of course; techrepreneurs love synergy). But they’re not the only two lovebirds flitting between the Bay and L.A.

Alexis Ohanian and Serena Williams

Established: October 2015

What we know: Alexis Ohanian (Reddit cofounder) and Serena Williams (no introduction needed, come on) have been dating since 2015. This is obviously something Drake thinks about every day of his life, so let’s ponder it a moment: Williams can date pretty much anyone she wants, and she chose a guy who is known for creating the former best place on the internet to upvote up-skirt pics. She’s also much richer than he is, because she’s the world’s greatest athlete and he sold Reddit a year after he started it. However, he is 6-foot-5, and he’s not whiny.

What’s the ROI? Slightly profitable. This romance is a huge inspiration to softboys who code everywhere; it makes Ohanian look cool, it makes Drake be sad, and Serena Williams can do whatever the hell she wants at all times anyway, so it neither hurts nor helps her. These kids might make it.

Anne Wojcicki and Alex Rodriguez

Established: March 2016

What we know: Anne Wojcicki is a former prominent Googler and the CEO of genomics company 23andMe. Alex “A-Rod”/“Don’t Mention Madonna” Rodriguez is a baseball player. On the surface, they don’t have a ton in common, aside from obvious interests in, ummmm, biotechnology. They attended the Met Gala together this spring, and are reportedly still seeing each other.

What’s the ROI? High. Dating Wojcicki, an intelligent and successful scientist, is a good look for A-Rod. And while it seems like Wojcicki and her ex-husband, Google founder Sergey Brin, are on good terms (Brin rode in the same car with Wojcicki and A-Rod to the Met Gala!), it must be noted that Brin cheated on her with a much younger woman in a highly public scandal.

Elon Musk and Amber Heard

Established: July 2016 (extremely unconfirmed)

What we know: According to Us Weekly, the pair “stayed together on Friday, July 15, through Sunday, July 17” in Miami Beach. People, meanwhile, says that Heard and Musk are “just friends.” There are no photos of the pair engaged in romantic behavior.

This (rumored) relationship is odd and also probably not a relationship. But it’s significant once you know some of the context around this gossip. Heard is in the middle of a high-profile divorce from Johnny Depp; she has a restraining order against the actor, and has accused him of domestic abuse. They do not have a prenup. Depp’s camp is doing everything it can to paint Heard as a gold digger. Musk’s ex-wife wrote a fascinating hit piece in Marie Claire after they divorced that makes him look like an utter dickhead; he is in the middle of a divorce from his second wife. (Whom he is divorcing for the second time.) Musk is also absurdly rich and famously cantankerous.

As The Cut’s Allie Jones pointed out last week, if Depp or his handlers wanted to plant a rumor that made Heard look terrible, this would be a great one.

What’s the ROI? High for publicists trying to make Heard look bad; negligible for everyone else.

Emma Watson and William Mack Knight

Established: February 2016

What we know: I definitely didn’t know who William Mack Knight was before I researched him for this piece. Actor Emma Watson, 25, best known for her role in Harry Potter and forever in my heart for her dead-on Alexis Neiers impression in The Bling Ring, is quite famous. Knight, her 35-year-old boyfriend, is decidedly not — no matter how often People insists on referring to him as a “tech guru” and “tech wizard” in pieces about their romance.

Knight is, straight up, a senior manager at a software company. He’s not a “tech guru.” He’s just a regular yuppie dude. He is, however, tall and generically handsome and probably has a ton of free time to follow Watson around, so …

What’s the ROI? Very high. Watson tends to avoid paparazzi and stay out of the tabloids, and dating a normie makes it easier to live a low-profile life. On the flip side, this is fucking incredible PR for William Mack Knight’s entire life.

Allison Williams and Ricky Van Veen

Established: ~2011

What we know: Girls actor Allison Williams has been all over this shit for a while. Williams started dating CollegeHumor.com founder, current Facebook employee, and enemy of Anna Wintour Ricky Van Veen back around 2011. They got engaged in 2014 and married in 2015.

Williams has credited The Bachelor for bringing them together.

“I would not be married to my husband if it weren’t for this show,” Williams said on an appearance on Bachelor Live!

What’s the ROI? I don’t know because I’m still trying to process the whole Bachelor thing.

Evan Spiegel and Miranda Kerr

Established: ~2015

What we know: The most high-profile celebrity–Silicon Valley pairing started up last year; Kerr, an Australian model and key participant in the infamous Bieber-Bloom Sexagon, told reporters that she met Snapchat founder Evan “Have some girl put your large kappa sigma dick down her throat” Spiegel at a “dinner party” in New York, which sounds fake as hell, but I’ll let it slide. Spiegel and Kerr announced their engagement using Snapchat, as I mentioned earlier, and I have a feeling that they won’t confiscate their guests’ phones at their upcoming wedding.

What’s the ROI? It’s incredibly high. Spiegel is with a Victoria’s Secret model, which means he is aggressively staying on brand. Meanwhile, Kerr previously was linked to two of the most majestic celebrity trash dicks of our time, Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber. She has a human child with Orlando Bloom. For literally almost any other woman in the world, Spiegel would be the brattiest, frattiest possible romantic partner. But from Kerr’s perspective, he must seem like a classy fellow.