The new 'Silicon Valley' season exposes a common dilemma in the tech industry

Silicon valley season four hboJohn P. Johnson/HBO‘Silicon Valley’ stars, from left, Kumail Nanjiani, Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, and Zach Woods.

The new season of “Silicon Valley” examines a common issue in the tech industry known as pivoting.

Pivoting is the decision companies make when they realise what’s appealing to customers and what isn’t, then decide to focus their efforts on what’s working. In many cases, they find that the product or service that’s clicking with consumers isn’t what their companies were originally founded on.

That’s where fans will find Pied Piper on the fourth season of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” premiering on Sunday at 10 p.m.

“A lot of companies are started with one thing in mind and then they turn into something else,” “Silicon Valley” executive producer Clay Tarver recently told Business Insider.

Tarver referred to Instagram’s origin as a sort of Foursquare knockoff called Burbn and Yelp’s turn away from its original incarnation as a business referral site and into a review site when it noticed that its users were writing unsolicited business reviews instead of answering referral requests.

On “Silicon Valley,” the pivot into video messaging puts Pied Piper founder Richard (Thomas Middleditch) at a crossroads. Does he accept that his data-compression algorithm is a failure and go along with the video-messaging app, or remain focused on his original vision?

“Everyone who starts a company and founds something like Pied Piper, I think they reach a moment where they’re questioning,’Is this it? Is this really what I want to do?’ It’s like with any of our dreams,” Tarver said. “In season three, Richard went and finally got to do what he wanted to do, but no one really liked it. It was too complicated for them, and too advanced. It was too good. And it was heartbreaking for him, but we felt that was a really interesting dilemma for him to face.”

On season four, the act of pivoting and Richard’s decision about what to pursue become central.

“For Richard, this amazing algorithm that he has, we view it as, almost like his soul,” Tarver said. “So can he have success without selling his soul? Or selling it short?”

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