The mysterious, disappearing startup guy.
Banana Republic's summer men's line features Startup Guy—and you can imagine the internet's reaction to the news, which broke late yesterday in VentureBeat. The site set off a round of mockery for the dapper model in rolled up khakis, sweaters, sockless loafers, and many suits, all of which lacked much resemblance to the startup guys we see in hoodies and cargo pants.
But has Banana Republic already beat a hasty retreat? Is Startup Guy already gone? All we know is this. The original VentureBeat post links to Banana Republic's own website. All the other stories linked back to Venture Beat without, it seems, checking to see if Startup Guy was really featured. And—let's face it—we often do that too. But in this case, we actually clicked over to Banana Republic's site. And what did we find?
Startup Guy was gone.
The same model is there. Similar outfits are there. But the specific picture of Startup Guy that VentureBeat used? He's vanished.
What happened? Did he lose his Series A funding? Did he get deposed by his board after accusations of domestic abuse/sexual harassment/support of Proposition 8? Is he in stealth mode?
Not exactly. According to Banana Republic spokesperson, Liz Nunan, Startup Guy wasn't ever there in the first place. "The 'Startup Guy' look is from a marketing e-mail we sent in late June, which is why you can't find it on the site," she says. "We wanted to provide an easy head-to-toe style guide for busy professionals (the Corporate Guy, The Creative Guy, The Startup Guy) looking for a one-stop shop for easy, effortless styling."
We called a few local Banana Republic stores to check on Startup Guy's welfare, but none of the employees we reached seemed to know anything about him. "I think one of [our lines] is called Marina Bay?" one employee offered.
So it's a still a bit of a puzzle. Did VentureBeat pick up an old story? Did Banana Republic do some damage control? All we know is this—like many real ones, Banana Republic's Startup Guy may never have really been all there.