Your Tech Portfolio Has Been Hacked!

Has the world turned upside down? Hackers who've made headlines for torturing tech companies are turning to honest work. Last week, the blog Techunwrapped revealed that George Hotz, otherwise known as "Geohot," is working at Facebook on a new iPad app.

The hire is notable for Hotz's successful hacks of corporate software. He's best known for "jailbreaking" Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone -- a process that involves using software to bypass iTunes and install unauthorized smartphone apps. Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) once sued him – then settled with him -- after he published root keys for bypassing security measures built into the PlayStation 3 console.

Hotz's hire comes in the wake of news that hackers operating under the moniker LulzSec have disbanded after 50 days of successful hacks of government systems, Sony, AOL (NYSE: AOL  ) , and AT&T (NYSE: T  ) , among others.

Call it an uneasy truce. Or maybe sleeping with the frenemy. Either way, hiring hackers is better than having them attack revenue-generating initiatives. In Facebook's case, hiring skilled coders could very well prove critical to its plan to upset long-established operating systems as the primary hosts for mobile and desktop software.

You might also call this a homecoming. Ever since Steven Levy described the Hacker Ethic in his 1984 classic, Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, the industry has slowly homogenized the otherwise rebellious act of infusing a machine with the intelligence to do something. Insanely Great has given way to Insanely Cheap and Easy to Reproduce in China.

Until lately, that is. The Wild West nature of the Web has the potential to give rise to new hackers and big ideas. So while Hotz's hiring is in many ways minor news, as a tech investor with an interest in the rise and ultimate triumph of cloud computing, I like the spirit of the experiment. Silicon Valley needs its pirates. Do you agree? Disagree?

Kick off the discussion using the comments box below. You can also add all of these companies to your watchlist and get our latest analysis as soon as it's published.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2011, at 8:24 AM, futbolgenius wrote:

    His correct name is George Hotz.

  • Report this Comment On June 28, 2011, at 10:48 AM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @futbolgenius,

    Thank you for the correction. I'll submit to the editors right away and my apologies to Mr. Hotz.

    Foolish best,

    Tim (TMFMileHigh and @milehighfool on Twitter)

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