Many of the Valley’s elite turned up for Wednesday’s party promoting season two of “Silicon Valley,” a satirical comedy that’s grown into a full-fledged hit for HBO.
The new season premieres on Sunday, April 12, at 10 p.m. ET.
Most of the cast appeared at the event. Notably missing was T.J. Miller, who caused an uproar in February when he hosted the Valley’s version of the Oscars, the “Crunchies,” and delivered remarks viewed by many as offensive.
That was just the latest in the blurring of fact versus fiction, real versus unreal, in a show that has captured the absurdity of this singular place and time.
Disclosure: Marc Andreessen is an investor in Business Insider.
First off, there are no sacred cows. The show's intentions were clear from its first poster, in which its band of hapless entrepreneurs strike the same self-important pose as the one famously associated with Steve Jobs.
And who better to deliver cutting social satire than creator Mike Judge? He brought the world such unforgettable creations as the cult hit 'Office Space' and '90s morons 'Beavis and Butt-head,' expertly skewering the world of work and meaningless culture.
In season one, main character Richard (in burgundy hoodie) creates a music app containing a revolutionary compression algorithm. Gavin Belson, founder of Hooli, offers Richard $10 million for the algorithm, but Richard decides instead to grow his own company, Pied Piper, and accepts a $200,000 investment from quirky venture capitalist Peter Gregory. Belson seeks revenge and builds Nucleus to rival Pied Piper's algorithm.
The show is full of inside jokes. Several of its main characters are modelled at least in part on real-life personalities. The absurdly intelligent and socially awkward Peter Gregory is seen to satirize billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel, left. Both characters actively encourage kids to drop out of college. Adding real-life tragedy: the brilliant actor, Christopher Evan Welch, who played the role died of cancer in December 2013.
Sean Parker, left, of Napster and Facebook fame is thought to be the inspiration for hard-partying, outspoken, and eccentric incubator owner Erlich Bachman, shown here in a classic scene slurping artisanal noodles with a barrette in his hair.
Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff, left, is seen to be the inspiration for Hooli founder Gavin Belson. Benioff loves yoga and meditating while Belson frequently consults a spiritual guide. And both make sure everyone knows about their philanthropic efforts.
Cameos have been key. Last season brought appearances by Eric Schmidt, Jason Kincaid, Kara Swisher, and Michael Arrington. Season two will reportedly feature Snapchat's Evan Spiegel, left, and the Winklevoss twins.
Belson's company Hooli has a uncanny resemblance to Google with its use of bold colours, Hooli shuttle, and company culture.
'Silicon Valley' includes great cultural satire. The show opens with Kid Rock performing to a nearly empty audience at a lavish party hosted by Gooly, a fictional company that was recently acquired by Google. Richard's best friend Bighead says, 'These guys built a mediocre piece of software that might be worth something one day, and now they live here.'
Season one is filled with over-the-top references to changing the world like 'it takes change to make change,' 'no fear, no failure,' and 'persistence = success.' Also, the Hooli employee shuttle plays a promotional video in which founder Belson, posing with African children, says Hooli is making the world a better place -- through 'minimal message-oriented transport layers.'
'Silicon Valley' introduced us to brogrammers. Brogrammers are the cool, buff programmers that bully the nerdier programmers like Richard. But when investors start giving Richard offers for Pied Piper, Richard says to his friends, 'Look guys, for thousands of years guys like us have gotten the s--- kicked out of us. But now, for the first time, we are living in an era where we can be in charge and build empires. We could be the Vikings of our day.'
One of the best sight gags involves a stone-faced Peter Gregory driving his ridiculously compact and narrow car.
We also see Gavin Belson doing a lot of ridiculous things like wearing these toe shoes around the office.
Or meeting with his spiritual guide. While observing programmers walking around the Hooli campus, Belson makes this outrageous observation:
'It's weird. They always travel in groups of five. These programmers, there's always a tall skinny white guy, short skinny Asian guy, fat guy with a ponytail, some guy with crazy facial hair, and then an East Indian guy. It's like they trade guys until they all have the right group.' To which Belson's spiritual guide responds, 'You clearly have a great understanding of humanity.'
At Peter Gregory's toga party, Richard, Gilfoyle and Dinesh are nearly speechless when two pretty girls approach them -- until they find out that the women are hired by a startup that sends actors to parties to liven things up and pretend to be interested in the conversation.
The show also pokes fun at Silicon Valley's culture, where rock stars are founders of multibillion-dollar companies, not actual musicians. Richard and Peter Gregory's lawyer proudly shows off a guitar signed by Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
One hilarious episode involves Peter Gregory discovering for the first time that Burger King exists. He orders one of everything on the menu, descends into a kind of trance, and emerges with a brilliant plan to make billions from harvesting sesame seeds in Indonesia.
And then there's the whole driverless-car sendup. Gregory's assistant offers Jared a ride home in one of their self-driving cars. On the way home the car reroutes to the island Gregory is building on the international date line. Jared can't escape and spends four days on an island operated solely by robots.
Real-life Silicon Valley has mostly loved the show. Larry Page and Sergey Brin wore Pied Piper and Hooli shirts while completing the ice-bucket challenge last summer.
While it wasn't Elon Musk's favourite viewing, he tweeted, 'The @MikeJudge show about Silicon Valley missed the mark in some ways, but I didn't hate it, as @Recode reporter claimed.'
Season one ends with a dramatic competition. The Pied Piper team works around the clock to get their app ready for the Tech Crunch Disrupt event, where both Pied Piper and Nucleus will debut. After getting a glimpse of Nucleus' superiority, Richard stays up all night completely reprogramming Pied Piper. During the presentation, Pied Piper crushes Nucleus' Weissman Score, setting a new record for compressing files. Richard and his team are flooded with interested investors after the showcase.
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