Silicon Valley’s ultimate status symbol is the sneaker — here are the rare, expensive and goofy sneakers worn by the top tech CEOs

Satya Nadella shoes

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

The inhabitants of Silicon Valley are not exactly known for haute-couture.

It’s a land where jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies reign supreme, and where sneakers are the footwear of choice. 

But don’t let the pedestrian fashion item fool you. These sneakers can be as rare and as status-defining as the fine watches adorning the wrists of Wall Street bankers or the designer handbags clutched by elite art dealers.

Indeed, for many of the Valley’s technorati, the right pair of kicks is a trademark accessory carefully selected to convey a mix of power and nonchalance; creativity and exclusivity.

With help from the team at sneaker marketplace Flight Club, Business Insider has compiled some of the most fashionable, expensive, or downright wild sneakers worn by tech founders and CEOs. The Flight Club team helped confirm the brands and styles, and provided their expert commentary and analysis. 

We did our best to find photos of female tech executives wearing sneakers, but our search didn’t yield any results. Women like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer wore low heels, flats, or loafers, which says something about how much freedom women have to dress down in the corporate world.

If you dream of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg, lacing up a pair of these sneakers probably won’t get you very far. But at least you’ll look the part. Check it out:

Mark Zuckerberg: Nike Flyknit Lunar 3 in Wolf Grey

Since Nike’s Flyknit franchise was introduced in 2012, Flight Club says it’s seen resale values range from “the hundreds and some well over a thousand.”

The Wolf Grey sneakers Facebook CEO Zuckerberg favors aren’t currently being sold in stores, but you can still find them on eBay.

Price: $134.99

Satya Nadella: Lanvin Suede & Patent Leather Low-Top Sneaker

When the Microsoft CEO took the helm in 2014, it quickly became clear that he was extremely stylish. So it’s no surprise that he opts for a more fashion-forward take on sneakers with a pair from the French high-end brand Lanvin. Even the sneaker-lovers on Reddit have inquired after Nadella’s fashionable kicks.

Price: $495

 

 

 

 

Sundar Pichai: Lanvin Men’s Cap-Toe Leather Low-Top Sneaker

Nadella isn’t the only one who likes Lanvin. Google CEO Sundar Pichai wears them too, but he prefers an all-black version. 

Price: $495

 

 

Larry Page: Lanvin Low-Top Sneaker with Contrast Heel

Perhaps Pichai is giving fashion tips to Alphabet CEO Larry Page. Page also favors Lanvin sneakers, though his are a bit harder to find: The style is currently sold out

Price: ~$297

Jack Dorsey: Rick Owens Island Dunks

Twitter CEO Dorsey is known for having a more advanced fashion sense than some of his Silicon Valley peers, so his sneakers by avant-garde designer Rick Owens certainly fit his style. Owens’ own shoe line is something of a cult favorite in the sneaker world, but he has also collaborated on a line of shoes with Adidas

Price: $484, down from $969

Sam Altman: Puma Blaze of Glory

The president of Y Combinator is known for his casual style and penchant for always wearing sneakers. In fact, he was once kicked out of the Ritz Carlton in London for wearing his Puma Blaze of Glory shoes. Here’s what Flight Club says about the vibrant sneakers:

“The Puma Blaze of Glory was a retro model from the 90s that Puma has brought back with a vengeance. We’ve seen this model be reinvented time and time again over the last three to four years. [Puma has] sustained popularity with this model by collaborating with streetwear brands such as Kith, Alife, Stampd, Staple, Bape, Sneaker Freaker, etc. The model has been a popular sell through among a few ‘sneaker heads’ buying the hyped collabs.”

Price: These shoes can resell for $257 to $325, according to Flight Club

Tim Cook: Nike Roshe 2 Flyknit

Apple CEO Cook is the lead independent director of Nike’s board, so it makes sense he’d choose Nike kicks.

“For Nike, the Roshe run has performed really well over the years,” the team at Flight Club says. “It was first spotted overseas in Asia and then it hit the States in 2012. We have witnessed Roshe Run sell by the hundreds in the secondary market ranging from $109 to $300, depending [on] popularity. The demand for this model and return upon investment are undeniable.

Flight Club added that the most popular colors for Roshe Runs are Triple Red, Calypso, GPX Tiger Camo Pack, Yeezy, Rainbow, and Santa Monica Pier.

Price: $130 originally, down to $104.97

Here’s Cook in another pair of Nike shoes.

Cook was spotted at the grand opening of an Apple store in Palo Alto, California, in Nike Roshe Ones.

Price: $75

MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos: Ash Bowie Wedge Sneaker and Converse Jack Purcell Low Top shoes

Novelist MacKenzie Bezos favors wedge-heeled sneakers by women’s footwear brand Ash, while Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wears more affordable Jack Purcells. 

Jack Purcells were originally designed in 1935 as badminton shoes — Purcell was a Canadian badminton player — but were later bought by Converse in the 1970s

“Converse has stepped up the model by doing cool collabs with men’s contemporary brands like rock designer John Varvatos, Neighborhood, WTAPS, and Comme des Garcons. Also, let’s not forget the annual Missoni collab,” Flight Club says. “For those interested in finding rare, dope spins on this model, we’ve seen the best executions of these models come out of Japan.”

Price: ~$210 (her), $64.99 (him)

Daniel Ek: Nike Air Force 1 ’07

Spotify CEO Ek has “one of the most iconic shoes” to come out of Nike, according to Flight Club. Air Force 1s were originally introduced by Nike in 1982 and an estimated 12 million pairs were sold at the shoe’s peak in 2005. 

“Over the years, the model has become iconic and part of the very fabric that makes Nike so great,” Flight Club says. “The Air Force franchise has left a historic impression not only on sports culture, but has been a hands-down pop culture staple. Throughout the 90s and early 2000s, Air Forces have been a staple in streetwear fashion — especially the beloved white-on-whites.”

While Ek sports the basic version of the shoe, Flight Club says its seen high-end and rare versions of Air Force 1s “flip for the thousands.” 

Price: $90

 

 

Ek is clearly a fan of white sneakers: He’s also been spotted in a pair of Adidas’ most well-known shoes.

Ek is wearing Adidas Originals Superstar shoes.

Price: $80

Evan Spiegel: Common Projects Original Achilles Leather Sneakers

Snap CEO Spiegel has been a longtime fan of high-end sneaker brand Common Projects. In fact, he told GQ he’s been wearing the brand since high school. But they don’t come cheap — an average pair of Common Projects shoes retails for $400, according to Flight Club. 

“The all-white pair of Achilles is the most popular colorway for the brand,” Flight Club says. “Some may ask why would you pay so much for such a simple shoe. The answer: craftsmanship. These shoes are hand-stitched and usually made out of Italian leather. Also, they look great with your everyday look.”

Price: $415

 

Kevin Systrom: Lanvin Classic Leather & Suede High-Top Sneakers

Instagram CEO Systrom is a yet another tech CEO who favors Lanvin shoes. 

“I’m a sucker for Lanvin sneakers because I have big feet and they fit me really well,” Systrom told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s hard to find a day where I’m not wearing them.”

Price: $590

Salesforce CEO Marc Benoiff has become famous for his eye-catching shoe choices. In fact, there’s a Twitter account dedicated to his footwear called @BenioffsShoes. Here he is in a more demure black crocodile pair…

Source: Twitter

…but he wore this pair of “cloud walkers” by high-end shoe designer Christian Louboutin in 2013, and has had several other cloud-themed shoes made for events like Dreamforce, Salesforce’s huge customer conference.

Source: Twitter, Business Insider

…like this custom pair, also by Louboutin. Here you can see the signature red Louboutin sole.

Men’s Louboutin high-tops retail for anywhere from $895 to $1,995.

Aaron Levie: Asics Onitsuka Tiger California 78 OG

The Box CEO is known for always wearing sneakers. In fact, he doesn’t own one pair of dress shoes, according to The New York Times

“Sneakers help me walk faster,” Levie told The Times. “Plus, it reminds me that we’re fighting for the end user — the consumer — because they wear sneakers, too!”

Levie favors Asics shoes, like these Onitsuka Tiger sneakers. Onitsuka Tiger is an Asics label known for focusing on a more vintage style, according to Flight Club. While Levie’s blue and orange pair is sold out, other colors are still available. 

Price: $67.99, down from $85

Brian Chesky: Gucci Ace Leather Low Top Sneaker

Airbnb CEO Chesky is another stylish exec, and often chooses unique — and expensive — footwear. The Ace sneaker has traditionally been a popular model for Gucci, and the brand itself has recently seen a resurgence in the fashion world, according to Flight Club.

“The last and current season has been trending on the blogs and among celebrities,” Flight Club says. 

Price: $550

Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk

It turns out that all three cofounders of Airbnb have a strong sneaker game. At Airbnb Open in 2016, Chesky (left) wore SeaVees Maslon Desert Boot Wintertide, Gebbia (center) wore Reebok Pump Omni Lite, and Blecharczyk (right) wore Nike Free Trainer 5.0 V6. 

Prices: $54, down from $108 (L), $119.99 (C), $89.99, down from $99.99 (R)

Sean Rad: Saint Laurent Signature Court Classic SL/18H Fringed Sneaker

Tinder founder Sean Rad has high-end taste when it comes to shoes. His fringed high-tops are sold-out on Sant Laurent’s site, but you can still find them on eBay or buy the gray version on Spring

Price: $475 — $695

Elon Musk: Nike Lunar Flyknit HTM NRG

It’s hard to be 100% sure, but we and Flight Club estimate that Musk is wearing Nike Lunar Flyknit HTM NRG, a shoe created by renowned design trio Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker. 

These shoes are hard to find, not to mention expensive. They’re sold out on Flight Club’s site, but you can find a pair on eBay. 

Price: $400$669.99

 

Sergey Brin: Vibram FiveFingers Classic

While Brin — the cofounder of Google and president of its parent company, Alphabet — doesn’t exactly have stylish taste in shoes, he certainly has unusual taste. Brin has been known to wear Crocs for public appearances, but his msot serious fashion faux pas is his preference for Vibram FiveFingers, the wacky, sock-like shoes that have space for each of your individual toes. 

Price: $75

BONUS: Travis Kalanick

Uber CEO Kalanick favors this pair of red Nike running shoes, but neither we nor Flight Club know what style they are. If you figure it out, let us know at ahartmans@businessinsider.com.


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