"Nerd"-working, a.k.a. networking for really smart engineering types, still does take place over a brew, a shot, and sometimes even wine. This slideshow is designed to show where the geeks of Silicon Valley converge. I started out by getting input from parched programmers and dehydrated engineers from a variety of South Bay tech companies including Cisco, Texas Instruments (National Semi folks), Altera, Apple, PLX, Xilinx, and even some independent types, as to the geek-a-holic pubs/bar hangouts they frequent, and why. My mistake was that I asked engineers representing a variety of age groups -- so you'll see those that appeal to a pretty wide range of nerds.
Before I tell you where they go, the why was all over the map. For the most part, the location was close to work, it was noisy enough to not be easily heard by the competition, they could view many sporting events, and, amazingly, the food was important.
For the brewpubs, the reasons are obvious -- beer made locally is much better than the Bud, Miller, Corona varieties, and priced extremely well. For the large number of foreign engineers, bars are the best and sometimes the only option to view major sporting events from their home countries. Some said they might end up in the bar at 5:00 a.m. for breakfast, not because they were up all night drinking, but because that's the time they can catch an afternoon match in Europe live.
Finally, this is a happy hour group. Half off on appetizers and deep discounts on beer was really important. While this wasn't a contest between the establishments, it's obvious that if Fry's served beer, it would be the place to go.
In researching this collection, I was told that today's engineers are more diverse than their predecessors and don't necessarily sit around pubs talking engineering 24/7. There might be a night of partying but not so much connection to hangouts. Their activities go beyond pub hopping. There are also clubs that put on mixers such as Hackers and Founders and Newbie Happy Hour for those new to Silicon Valley.
Although I think this observation is correct for some, fortunately for others, nerd-working is best done in a friendly, loud, and unintimidating atmosphere.
Here are the results of my quest. Click the image to view the slideshow.
Stephens Green, 223 Castro St., Mountain View.
Stephens Green is a pretty authentic pub with minimal electronic toys and maximum good bar food. They have a lot of activity from the SV techno set but also from "civilians," but you can’t help that. Sports events shown include GAA, Soccer-Premiership, MLS & Champions League, Football -- NFL Sunday Ticket, College football, Big Ten, ESPN, Hockey, Baseball, Basketball, Rugby, UFC Fight Nights, etc. With tech companies like Google, Yahoo, Cypress, and Facebook, the place is always pretty packed.
— Carolyn Mathas is a freelance writer and editor for EE Times