Nerd HQ

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Nerd HQ
Logo with quote.png
Founded 2010 (2010)
Headquarters Van Nuys, California
Area served Worldwide
Founder(s) Zachary Levi and David Coleman
Industry Entertainment
Current status Active

Nerd HQ, formerly known as The Nerd Machine, is an American-based company and website founded by Zachary Levi in November 2010. Levi, along with Chuck prop master David Coleman and Courtney Coleman, launched the company to spread the "nerd" culture. In addition to the website being an entertainment hub, Nerd HQ is also a free, four day event held the same weekend as the annual pop culture convention Comic-Con International and offers exclusive gaming and tech activations, nightly events, and intimate celebrity panels benefiting Operation Smile. The event takes place at The New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego, California every year. The website has an online store, where original T-shirts, posters and hats are available for purchase. The website is home to a community of "nerds" and offers the latest in entertainment news and hosts a forum where people all around the world may discuss hobbies, culture and even start collaborations on large scale projects.

Nerd HQ[edit]

Nerd HQ logo

Nerd HQ is a free event offering celebrity panels, exclusive gaming and tech experiences, while raising money for Operation Smile. The physical event in San Diego is completely free for everyone to enter and enjoy. The only things that cost you money at Nerd HQ, aside from all the charitable activations, is Nerd HQ merchandise. There are also booths that showcase at various conventions nationwide.

Zachary Levi at the 2010 San-Diego Comic-Con wearing a Nerd Machine shirt


San Diego[edit]

Nerd HQ is a free, four day event held the same weekend as the annual pop culture convention and offers exclusive gaming and tech activations, nightly events, and intimate celebrity panels benefiting Operation Smile. It is located at The New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego, California.

In July 2011, Zachary Levi and the Nerd HQ partnered with Break media to create a series of videos and events at the 2011 Comic-Con International Convention.[1] At "Nerd HQ", various celebrity supporters of the company, such as Nathan Fillion, Scott Bakula, Tom Hiddleston, Stephen Amell and Jared Padalecki, talked in small panels answering questions that the audience posed to them. In addition to this, people were allowed to meet and have conversations with these celebrities and have access to unreleased video games. Nerd HQ was created as an alternative to Comic-Con "to allow fans and the people that they're fans of to interact in a more intimate, loving and, low-key setting, while still enjoying the same mecca of merchandise, video games and comic books they've come to know and love from Comic-Con."[2]

The idea to create this event came from Levi's Chuck co-star Adam Baldwin (also of Firefly fame). Levi "thought it was a shame that the entity of Firefly no longer had panel opportunities for fans and figured these intimate settings would be a great experience for approximately 200 people."[3] This event was also streamed live on Ustream so fans worldwide who were unable to attend could watch the event. The event also launched the website's first ever film festival, "The Nerd Machine Shorties", where members and fans would send in videos under a minute long. The top 5 videos sent in were featured on[4] and shown and discussed at Nerd HQ. Tickets for the event were sold in advance for $20 each. All proceeds from this event went to the charity group Operation Smile. Over $25,000 was raised in the first two days alone and by the final day $40,000 was raised and donated to the charity.[5] Nerd HQ was repeated at each SDCC since.

New York Comic Con[edit]

Nerd HQ and Intel joined to invade Metropolis during New York Comic Con, October 10–13, 2013. It was located at Booth #638, the Nerd Lounge, where you could charge your mobile devices, check out Intel powered technology and meet some of your favorite Comic Con talent. The company continued the “Smiles for Smiles” (photo opportunities with your favorite NYCC talent) and “Signings for Smiles” (autograph sessions with your favorite NYCC talent) programs that raise money for Operation Smile. Merchandise was sold as well.

Stan Lee's Los Angeles Comic Con[edit]

Nerd HQ exhibited at Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con in 2013 and 2016. Located at Booth #1613, the booth was open all weekend with merchandise, exclusive free giveaways, Selfies For Smiles and surprise celebrity guests raising money for Operation Smile. Celebrities that showed up included Alan Tudyk and Liam McIntyre, among others.


Celebrity List[edit]

Here are some of the celebrities who have participated in panels at Nerd HQ:


Geeks Who Drink[edit]

Zachary Levi hosted the trivia show Geeks Who Drink on Syfy with a set that looks like the interior of a bar. The premise was two teams of three geeks each compete to win some irrelevant prizes and insignificant money. The real object of this contest is to display one's geekdom and to dominate the other team. The action is punctuated by the host's exhortations to throw back a shot.

There's a speed round, a toss-up question, a game about finding the common element in four pictures, some geeky math, a bar game that has nothing to do with trivia, and a final challenge. You might ask what is considered geek-worthy? The answer is anything (even remotely) related to superheroes, videogames, and science fiction, in general. It ran for one season in 2015.

2nd Annual Geekie Awards[edit]

The Geekie Awards honors talented, independent creators in entertainment, gaming, products and art, and gives them the opportunity to receive recognition in front of a worldwide audience. Nerd HQ was a sponsor at the 2014 show.

Electronic Entertainment Expo[edit]

Nerd HQ provided original coverage and content for Spike TV throughout the first two days of E3 on June 4 and 5 of 2012 in Los Angeles. Levi’s business partner, David Coleman, came along for the ride, and Alison Haislip interviewed developers at the trade show.

In an interview with Forbes, Levi explained the details of the company's involvment: "Every year I like to go to E3 anyway and check out all the new sights and sounds and the new games and titles and what people are working on. I love videogames, so E3 is a Mecca for that. Last year my partner Dave Coleman and I took our own little camera crew down there and got some footage and had our little Nerd Machine experience. Then ever since I hosted the “Video Game Awards”, Spike reached out to us and said they would love to collaborate with us and have Nerd Machine be their eyes and ears for this journey through E3. It will give us a more relevant and personal perspective of E3. It’s going to be us getting some really cool access to new games, different developers in different booths, independents and whatnot, but with some cooler access."[6]

Operation Smile[edit]

Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft. These children encounter incredible obstacles. Ostracized from a life of everyday normalcy they are ridiculed, unable to properly eat or speak, attend school and are vulnerable to a higher rate of respiratory infection as well as other infectious diseases and malnutrition. In too many cases, they face uncertain futures because of limited access to healthcare and strained financial resources. At Operation Smile, every child deserves exceptional surgical care.

That’s what drives each and every one of them: a global network of medical professionals, who donate hundreds of thousands of hours toward the care of children around the world each year, and their supporters who are moved every day to make a difference in the lives of children they’ve never met.

Nerd HQ Support[edit]

Nerd HQ also believes that every child deserves access to safe, quality surgical care and is thrilled to be bringing fan favorite Nerd HQ back to the New Children's Museum July 21–24, 2016. This marks the sixth year for Nerd HQ to set up camp in downtown San Diego for the annual SDCC weekend. Nerd HQ brings the nerd community a four-day haven to connect, recharge and enhance their Con experience. This year's guests can look forward to a return of the preeminent "Conversations for a Cause" panel series, as well as over 160 hands-on gaming experiences on both PC and console brought to you by AMD and Xbox, and a VR experience brought to you by Oculus.

The fan favorite philanthropic panel series "Conversations for a Cause" will once again be positioned on the lower level in a dedicated enhanced auditorium. The annual panel series has given fans unique opportunities to have sometimes surprising, intimate experiences with their favorite celebrities. Previous panels have played host to some of the biggest names in pop-culture like Joss Whedon, William Shatner, Tom Hiddleston, Tatiana Maslany, Nathan Fillion, Sophie Turner, Andrew Lincoln, Jeff Bridges, Seth Green, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Guillermo Del Toro, Vin Diesel, Kellan Lutz, Dylan O'Brien and Norman Reedus, just to name a few. Tickets for panels are $22, and all proceeds raised through ticket sales go directly to non-profit Operation Smile whose mission is to help improve the health and lives of children across the world. For 2016, all of the panels will be streamed live on multiple platforms, including Facebook, IGN, AMD & the Nerd Machine YouTube Channel, NerdMachineTV.

Nerd HQ also welcomes newest sponsor Johnson & Johnson in 2016. The merging of the company's popular "Donate a Photo" app and Nerd HQ's popular "Smiles for Smiles" campaign will offer fans a new opportunity to raise funds for Operation Smile. Whether it's through the APP or onsite at Nerd HQ for every photo uploaded, Johnson & Johnson donates $1 to Operation Smile.

Corporate Humanitarian Award[edit]

Operation Smile hosted its annual Smile Gala on Friday, September 30, 2016 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

The evening was hosted by long time smile ambassador, Brooke Burke-Charvet, and honored Nerd HQ Co-founders, Zachary Levi and David Coleman, with the Corporate Humanitarian Award. Since the company’s inception in 2010, Nerd HQ has been a strong supporter of Operation Smile through its annual event in San Diego, Nerd HQ, raising over $1 million in support.

The event celebrated more than 240,000 free surgical procedures that Operation Smile has provided as one of the worlds’ oldest and largest volunteer-based children’s charities. In addition, Whitney Cummings received Wallis Annenberg Public Service Award to recognize her dedication and energy in improving the lives of others and setting an example of exceptional leadership. This past April, Cummings volunteered on an Operation Smile medical mission in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Jordin Sparks and DJ Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys provided Gala Entertainment, and Kevin Beggs, Mark Burnett, Roma Downey, Jennifer and Henry Salke co-chaired the event.


The community has a population of over 16,000 members who talk, share and socialize about technology, science, conventions and anything in general. The community has members who have been there since the community began and still post very frequently. The number of members is constantly expanding due to fans of Chuck, General Nerds and people who are finding out about the Nerd HQ through Comic-Con. When is typed into the url bar, visitors are redirected to so fans of Zachary Levi are encouraged to join the community as well as general nerds.

Members of the community have also undergone large scale projects, one of which was campaigning to save Chuck for season renewal after viewer population declined. Fans took to Twitter to campaign using the hashtag #NotANielsenFamily and tweeting to advertisers of the show.[7]

Members also advertise the website and spread the nerd culture by tweeting the hashtag #VivaLaNerdolution. The community may communicate with each other through the Nerd HQ forums or the chatroom. As well as the forums there is also the opportunity for members to have their own blog on the site. Members can be a part of the Nerd HQ experience through numerous different social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter. Users themselves have created a dedicated Google+ circle for keeping in touch with each other and to discuss matters concerning Nerd HQ.

On October 10, 2013 it was announced that the Nerd HQ community would be removed from the website and moved to Google Plus.[8]

On October 22, 2016 it was announced that The Nerd Machine is rebranding itself to just be Nerd HQ.


  1. ^ "Break Media Partners With Zachary Levi on "Nerd Machine" Videos and Events at Comic-Con International 2011". Business Wire. 10 June 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  2. ^ Prudom, Laura (20 July 2011). "'Chuck' Star Zachary Levi Talks Nerd HQ: A More Intimate Alternative to Comic-Con". Aol TV. Retrieved 20 July 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  3. ^ Craik, Kristin (28 July 2011). "Zachary Levi and The Nerd Machine". Business Review Canada. Retrieved 28 July 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  4. ^ "Break presents Nerd Machine @ Comic-Con". Break Media. Retrieved 20 July 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  5. ^ "Birthday Fundraiser For Zachary Levi". Operation Smile. Retrieved 9 November 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  6. ^ Gaudiosi, John. "Actor Zac Levi Brings E3 To Gamers Through Nerd Machine And Spike TV". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-11-04. 
  7. ^ Watercutter, Angela (21 April 2011). "Twitter Campaign Tries to Save Chuck From Cancellation". Wired. Retrieved 21 April 2011.  External link in |work= (help)
  8. ^

External links[edit]