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Silicon Valley, sitcom style

The INQUIRER ventures into the valley of the cringey via HBO's new tech TV series
Mon Jul 21 2014, 15:53

silicon-valleyCABLE CHANNEL HBO showed its Silicon Valley comedy on UK television this weekend, and with cheese balls and soda in hand, The INQUIRER watched it.

The show comes from the keyboard of Mike Judge, who gave the world metal fans Beavis and Butthead, and aims to shine a comedic light on the startup industry. It was previewed earlier this year and drew a range of responses from the community.

Silicon Valley insider and serial investor Elon Musk said at that time that he doubted that Judge had ever been to the area. Others, such as Eric Schmidt, took a small role in the premiere episode, called Minimum Viable Product.

The show follows a character called Richard Hendriks, who has written an algorithm with copyright in mind. Others, a CEO and a venture capitalist with a "very narrow car" - spot the revolutionary compression side of his idea, get impressed by it, and start throwing money, as in $10m, at him.

Hendriks decides to keep his code close and take the investment option, and for this he gives away a small percentage of the business.

This is not an easy decision, and he has a panic attack - something that his doctor tells him is common in the area - shortly before offering him a chance to invest in his panic-attack alert-system startup.

silicon-valley-castHendriks is joined by a clutch of characters called Elrich, Bighead, Gilfoyle, and Dinesh. They are supposed to be representative of the sort of denizens that scuttle through the valley - an impression reinforced by comments from Gavin Belson, the aforementioned CEO.

Belson is a very effective parody of the CEO and of the cult of the CEO as tech guru and leader. He is shown wearing shoes with toes and green soles, and traveling in the company of his spiritual advisor.

He talks about change in two terms, money and change for good, and is shown posing in Africa as part of a promotional video being shown on a bus.

His acolyte VPs talk of him in glowing terms, and one says that he was once told that he was not being "humiliated" but rather "elevated" by Belson.

There are a number of very rich quotes in the show - more of these in our favourite quotes rundown article later in the week. Early on, someone jumps on stage to announce rapper Kid Rock and make an impassioned speech about "integrated multi-platform functionality", and in-jokes are scattered throughout.

That theme continues, and anyone that has ever been at a technology expo or user conference, or product launch, or the unveiling of a Powerpoint presentation, will find a lot to smile at.

It is esoteric, and will probably reward industry insiders more than the casual observer, but there are enough laughs to keep both sets of viewers interested. The show is broadcast on Sky Atlantic in the UK. A second series has been green lighted. µ


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