"I just feel terrible about this whole thing," Van Horn told CNN Friday, noting that, flying in the face of the "brogrammer" stereotype, he's a married man (he live-streamed his proposal online). "I'm so sorry that I offended anyone."
He called his comments at South by Southwest "a bad attempt at humor and a poor choice of words during a talk, particularly when taken out of context."
"I don't think the words represent a true reflection of my true feelings and character," he said, adding that at the sometimes free-wheeling festival, he "was trying to have a provocative discussion about non-tech contributors making an impact on tech companies."
He added that the calendar he mentioned was, in fact, a college charity project to aid tsunami victims in Southeast Asia and featured both male and female models."
'Bro down and crush some code'
But it's not the only instance that critics cite of the "brogrammer" mentality.
Klout, an app that seeks to judge users' effectiveness on social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, has recruited programmers at Stanford University with a poster reading: "Want to bro down and crush some code? Klout is hiring."
That poster, which critics say sends the message that anyone that doesn't share a party-boy mentality need not apply, was "an unfortunate judgment call by a former Klout employee" when the company only employed 10 people, said spokeswoman Lynn Fox. It now employs 70 and 20% of them are women, according to Fox.
In March, daily deals aggregator Squoot advertised a Boston hackathon that promised (along with massages, access to a gym and "kick-ass cupcakes") this tidbit: "Need another beer? Let one of our friendly (female) event staff get that for you." The site has apologized.
And then there's GoDaddy, the web registrar that some call the godfather of the "brogrammer" mind-set.
Jennifer 8. Lee, a journalist and author who, among many projects, works with Web startup Upworthy, said the aforementioned Super Bowl ad, and others like it, show that a "brogrammer" mind-set can have consequences for the company involved.
"They called me the other day and said they just wanted to check in," said Lee (whose numerical middle initial invokes Chinese numerology and was intended to set apart her otherwise common name). "I said, 'Oh yeah, that reminds me ... I thought your Super Bowl ads were sexist and I want to change my registrar. Thanks for reminding me.'"
"We do have power," she added. "There are totally consequences."
The image of beer-swilling coders is a stereotype that far from describes the majority of men in tech startups, those in the industry say.
"There are plenty of people in this industry who ... came up because they were interested in tech and computer programming and maybe some of the more traditionally geekier aspects of this work," Raja said. "Now, I'm hearing people talk about being concerned about the number of quote-unquote 'idea people' flooding the field.
"For me, this is an industry that's really wrestling with how it defines its own professionalism."