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Silicon Valley (TV series)

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Silicon Valley (TV series)

Silicon Valley
Season 1 intertitle
Genre Comedy
Created by
Starring
Opening theme "Stretch Your Face" by Tobacco
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 18 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Mike Judge
  • Alec Berg
  • John Altschuler
  • Dave Krinsky
  • Michael Rotenberg
  • Tom Lassally
Producer(s)
  • Jim Kleverweis
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 28–30 minutes
Production company(s)
Release
Original channel HBO
Picture format HDTV (1080i)
Original release April 6, 2014 (2014-04-06) – present
External links
Website

Silicon Valley is an American television comedy series created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. The series focuses on six young men who found a startup company in Silicon Valley.[1][2] The series premiered on April 6, 2014, on HBO.[3] The first season consisted of eight episodes. HBO renewed the series for a second season,[4] which premiered on April 12, 2015.[5] On April 13, 2015, HBO renewed Silicon Valley for a third season.[6]

Plot

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 8 April 6, 2014 (2014-04-06) June 1, 2014 (2014-06-01)
2 10 April 12, 2015 (2015-04-12) June 14, 2015 (2015-06-14)

Season 1

Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) is a shy, reclusive programmer who works at a large internet company called Hooli. He is also developing a music app called Pied Piper in a live-in startup business incubator run by entrepreneur Erlich Bachman (T. J. Miller). After a rocky post-TED elevator pitch of Pied Piper to venture capitalist Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch), Hendricks also shows his work to a pair of programmers at Hooli who mock him. Within hours, however, Hooli executive Donald "Jared" Dunn (Zach Woods) and Gregory's assistant Monica (Amanda Crew) discover that the app contains a revolutionary data compression algorithm. Hooli CEO Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) proposes a US$4 million buy-out of Pied Piper, while Peter Gregory offers a $200,000 investment for 5% ownership in the company, an offer that would result in an equivalent valuation for the company. This leads Belson to increase his offer to $10 million. With encouragement from Monica and the support of Bachman, Hendricks chooses Gregory's offer. He hires the residents of the incubator, except for his friend Nelson "Big Head" Bighetti (Josh Brener), to become the Pied Piper team, along with Dunn, who defects from Hooli.

Hooli works to reverse engineer Pied Piper's algorithm based on the version he demoed, developing a copycat product called Nucleus. Gregory and Belson later each learn that Hendricks has been slated to present Pied Piper at TechCrunch Disrupt, a competition for unfunded startups. Belson is confounded by the news, and responds by scheduling the announcement of Nucleus at the event. Hendricks explains to Monica that he meant to withdraw from the competition, but Gregory demands that the company follow through, in large part due to his rivalry with Belson. The countdown to the event means that Pied Piper has to be ready to show in less than eight weeks rather than Gregory's initial plan of five months. The team rushes to produce a feature-rich cloud storage platform based on their compression technology.

At the TechCrunch event, Bachman takes the lead in a dramatic onstage presentation of Pied Piper. However the presentation is cut short when one of the judges assaults Bachman for having adulterous sex with both his current and ex-wives. Pied Piper automatically advances to the final round as recompense for the assault on Bachman. Belson presents Nucleus, which is integrated with all of Hooli's services and has compression performance equal to Pied Piper. Watching from the audience, the Pied Piper team generally admits defeat. The team eventually retires to a hotel room, where Bachman nihilistically suggests "jerking off" every member of the audience, and the group launches into an engineering conversation about how to do that efficiently. The discussion sparks a sudden revelation in Hendricks, who spends the entire night coding. The next morning, Hendricks takes the lead in making Pied Piper's final presentation. Having scrapped all of Pied Piper's other features overnight, Hendricks describes his new compression algorithm, and demonstrates it. Hendricks' algorithm strongly outperforms Nucleus (miraculously escaping the constraints of information theory), and he is mobbed by eager investors.

Season 2

In the immediate aftermath of their Tech Crunch Disrupt victory, multiple venture capital firms offer to finance Pied Piper's Series A round. However, while expressing interest, several venture capitalists criticize Hendricks' lack of perceived direction and to come back with a more coherent "vision". Bachman insists that this is a strategy to lower Pied Piper's valuation. He responds to each offer by insulting each VC firm. One offer from the company End Frame in particular is revealed to be a scam to steal trade secrets from Pied Piper developers. Peter Gregory dies while on vacation and is replaced by Laurie Bream (Suzanne Cryer) to run Raviga Capital. Bream gives Richard the highest offer of all the VC firms: $20 million at a $100 million valuation. Monica privately visits Richard to urge them to decline the offer, calling it a "runaway valuation that they could never live up to", which would result in diluting Series A investors in future financing rounds. Richard offers Bream the same 20% equity but at a $50 million valuation. Before he can collect the $10 million, Richard finds out at Peter Gregory's funeral that Hooli is suing Pied Piper for copyright infringement, claiming that Richard developed Pied Piper's compression algorithm on Hooli time using company equipment.

While the lawsuit appears frivolous to the Pied Piper team, Raviga retracts its offer. This has a domino effect, all the other VC firms retract their offers claiming Bachman's behavior was "rude" and that the lawsuit added too much uncertainty. LaFlamme, Pied Piper's attorney, estimates the cost of the lawsuit to be $2 - 2.5 million with the first $80,000 due immediately. Pied Piper cannot afford this retainer, but Hendricks receives a phone call from Gavin Belson. Richard secretly meets Belson at a Mexican restaurant, where Belson offers to buy out Pied Piper at a higher valuation than the initial $10 million offer. Richard rejects outright claiming that he doesn't want his compression algorithm to become the property of the heartless Hooli corporation. Belson convincingly argues that Pied Piper is no different: the ultimate objective of any company is to scale and become a publicly traded corporation just like Hooli. He insists the lawsuit will bankrupt Pied Piper and that Richard should get something out of his company while still possible. Gilfoyle, Dinesh and Bachman reject the buyout while Monica and Jared support it. As Richard is about to accept Belson's offer, he is confronted by Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos), the wealthy man who "put radio on the Internet". Hanneman offers them $5 million despite the lawsuit and Richard turns down Hooli's buyout offer. Richard quickly begins questioning his decision after learning about Hanneman's mercurial reputation and his excessive interference in day-to-day operation. Belson meets with his litigators to discuss a strategy for the lawsuit. They decide to promote Big Head to Hooli's "moonshot" department, Hooli [xyz], arguing that he created the compression algorithm and Richard stole it to create Pied Piper.

When Hooli Nucleus fails to carry 4K video at a pay-per-view event, Pied Piper tries to generate publicity by live streaming a stunt for an energy drink company, Homicide. Despite a promising rollout, Erlich's past with the Homicide CEO and issues with the stunt driver complicate matters to a point that Pied Piper ends up quitting the job and instead live-streaming video of an unhatched condor egg. End Frame picks the event up for Homicide with a functioning, but lossy, 4K stream based on the Pied Piper algorithm, leaving Richard infuriated but without legal options to stop End Frame.

The Pied Piper team confronts End Frame about End Frame's theft of intellectual property, and during the visit End Frame brags that their large sales department will allow them to be successful despite their technical inferiority. Hanneman arranges for End Frame to buy Pied Piper, but Richard rejects the deal. Gilfoyle reveals that a post-it note with the administrator username and password he took from End Frame allowed him to retrieve sales contracts Pied Piper could use to poach End Frame's customers. Richard approaches the CEO of Intersite, a porn company with whom End Frame was negotiating a $15 million deal, and offers them a technically superior deal. The Intersite CEO proposes a "bake-off" between End Frame and Pied Piper, to see who can better compress their video data, but the competition is called off when Hanneman accidentally deletes a large portion of Intersite's video library from Intersite's servers.

Big Head finds a prototype Nucleus phone left behind at a bar and, stunned at how bad Nucleus really is, provides it to Richard to use as leverage against Belson. Belson agrees to drop the lawsuit in favor of binding arbitration to prevent the press from finding out about the phone. At the arbitration, Hooli's lawyers don't appear to have a real case. However, an unintentional slip by Bachman leads Hooli to realize that Richard had used a Hooli computer to run a single test of Pied Piper, meaning that per the terms of Richard's employment contract, Hooli owns the rights to Pied Piper. Hooli calls Richard as a witness and, unwilling to lie under oath, Richard admits that he used a Hooli computer. However, while reviewing Jared's contract with Hooli as part of the lawsuit, since Belson also sued for the illegal hiring of Jared from Hooli, the judge discovers that the contract has a clause that makes it unenforceable. Since Richard's contract also has this clause, along with many Hooli employees, the lawsuit is ruled in Pied Piper's favor. Thinking that they had lost Pied Piper to Hooli, Richard sends a text to the team to delete all of the Pied Piper code, but the deletion program crashes before any damage could be done.

Meanwhile, the museum providing the video of the condor egg decides to remove the camera due to low viewership numbers, but the technician taking it down falls and becomes trapped with the camera in a ravine. The feed of the injured technician goes viral, forcing Gilfoyle, Dinesh, Jared and Bachman to scramble to keep their servers online. Despite the high server load starting a small fire, the feed remains online until the technician is rescued.

After it is clear that Hooli has no claim on Pied Piper, Raviga, impressed by Pied Piper's performance during the live stream, buys out Russ Hanneman's stake in Pied Piper, securing three of Pied Piper's five board seats. However, due to the previous incidents with Intersite and Homicide, Raviga has little confidence in Pied Piper's leadership. As Pied Piper celebrates their arbitration victory, Richard is notified that the now Raviga-run board has voted to remove him from the CEO position.

Cast

Main

  • Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendricks, a Stanford University dropout and ex-coder at tech giant Hooli, Richard quits his job to pursue his Pied Piper compression application. Richard is timid and quiet, but is prone to occasional outbursts of extreme anger in certain circumstances. Richard is constantly struggling with the demands of the business world, preferring instead to disappear into the coding of his application, but realizes that as CEO he must do more.
  • T. J. Miller as Erlich Bachman, a supremely confident and arrogant entrepreneur who founded an innovation incubator in his home after the purchase of his airfare collator Aviato. Under the incubator agreement, Erlich owns 10% of Pied Piper, and is later appointed to the company's board of directors after Richard realizes how important Erlich is to the business. Erlich is a frequent user of marijuana. It is revealed in the season 2 finale that Erlich no longer codes because of severe carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Josh Brener as Nelson "Big Head" Bighetti, a former tenant of Erlich's incubator who works at Hooli. After work on Pied Piper commences, Big Head is offered a huge raise and promotion by Gavin Belson to help Hooli develop its copycat software, Nucleus, out of spite and because Richard was forced to limit his staff. He is later removed from the Nucleus project due to his lack of technical knowledge, and has absolutely no responsibilities at Hooli. He was later promoted further to make it appear that he was the actual creator of Pied Piper while working at Hooli, but he is unaware of this.
  • Martin Starr as Bertram Gilfoyle, a LaVeyan Satanist programmer and Canadian illegal immigrant, until he successfully applies for a visa after Dinesh puts him under pressure. Gilfoyle credits himself as an online security expert, and as such is responsible for all of the relevant Pied Piper code. Gilfoyle often plays cruel pranks on Dinesh, but the two do appear to be friends despite this, with the two often bonding over their shared moral ambiguity. He acts as a co-CTO and systems architect of Pied Piper.
  • Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh Chugtai, a talented programmer originally from Karachi, Pakistan who is typically the victim of Gilfoyle's embarrassing games and pranks. Dinesh exhibits an acerbic and sarcastic personality towards everyone on the team, and often behaves in a callous and amoral manner, such as when he plots the death of a man who was dating the girl that Dinesh liked. He acts as a co-CTO of Pied Piper, alongside Gilfoyle.
  • Zach Woods as Donald "Jared" Dunn, an ex-employee of Hooli who quits the company in order to join the Pied Piper team as its CFO and business advisor. Like Richard, Jared is extremely reserved, but gains confidence as the series progresses and the company's success necessitates it. His birth name is Donald, but his former boss Gavin once referred to him as Jared, and the nickname stuck, despite the Pied Piper team knowing it's not his real name. He is frequently disrespected by the other employees of Pied Piper though he tends to be oblivious of this or too awkward to actually understand the insult.
  • Amanda Crew as Monica Hall, an employee of Raviga Capital and assistant to both Peter Gregory and later Laurie Bream. Monica is often charged with engaging with clients on a more personable and approachable way than either Gregory or Bream are, and as such forms a bond with Richard after she convinces him to launch Pied Piper on his own. Her interactions with Richard subtly imply a mutual romantic attachment which, though rarely explored, may explain Richard's decision to go with Raviga over Hooli, and Monica's persistence in keeping Pied Piper on board.
  • Christopher Evan Welch as Peter Gregory (season 1), the billionaire founder and CEO of Raviga Capital as well a 5% equity owner of Pied Piper after his $200,000 investment. Gregory is extremely brilliant but eccentric and unpredictable, once delaying a crisis business meeting to sample Burger King products for 8 hours. After the fifth episode of season 1 was completed, Welch died, but the character remained present off-screen for the remainder of the season. Gregory later died in the season 2 premiere.
  • corporate culture that Richard is desperate to avoid with Pied Piper. Belson constantly spews forth pseudo-philosophica rants to his employees, who remain enamored with his work, but often comes across as seeming unintelligent and mean-spirited. In season 2, Belson launched a lawsuit against Pied Piper, claiming that it was developed on Hooli company time and using company resources. Historically Belson and Peter Gregory were friends but later became business rivals, and interactions between the two of them became awkward as a result. Hooli's own compression program, Nucleus, has suffered serious public tech failure because no one who worked for him was willing to tell him about any tech issues.
  • Jimmy O. Yang as Jian-Yang (recurring season 1, starring season 2), another tenant of Erlich's incubator, and the only person who lives there that is not involved with Pied Piper in any capacity. He speaks in extremely broken English, and struggles to understand anyone who talks to him.
  • Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream (season 2), the new CEO of Raviga Capital and the replacement for Peter Gregory. Like her predecessor, Laurie is socially inept, but appears to rely more on tangible metrics than Peter. Her business-centric approach is what leads her to terminate Raviga's investment into Pied Piper after Belson's lawsuit is announced.

Recurring

  • Aly Mawji as Aly Dutta, a coder at Hooli who often mocks Richard and Big Head. Aly is one of the lead engineers on the struggling Nucleus.
  • Brian Tichnel as Jason Winter, another Hooli programmer charged with working on Nucleus.
  • Jill E. Alexander as Patrice, a Hooli employee.
  • Ben Feldman as Ron LaFlamme, Pied Piper's young, laid-back but competent general counsel.
  • Gabriel Tigerman as Gary Irving, the human resources manager at Hooli.
  • Bernard White as Denpok, Gavin's spiritual advisor.
  • Romy Rosemont as Molly Kendall (season 2), the CEO of pornography giant Intersite, for whom Pied Piper auditions their code.
  • Matt McCoy as Pete Monahan (season 2), a disgraced former lawyer who represents Richard, Erlich and Pied Piper at the binding arbitration of the Hooli lawsuit.
  • Alice Wetterlund as Carla Walton (season 2), a female programmer and friend of Gilfoyle and Dinesh's who joins the Pied Piper team.
  • Chris Diamantopoulos as Russ Hanneman (season 2), an unpredictable, selfish and bizarre billionaire investor who provides Pied Piper with their Series A.
  • Joshua Chang as Seth (season 2), a coder at EndFrame, the company who stole Pied Piper's algorithm, who is fired as a result of Gilfoyle's hacking of the EndFrame system and swears revenge on Gilfoyle and Richard.

Production

Mike Judge, co-creator of Silicon Valley.

After Mike Judge graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in physics, his first job was as a programmer working on the F/A-18 fighter plane. In 1987 he moved to the Silicon Valley region of Northern California and joined Parallax, a startup company with about 40 employees. Judge disliked the company's culture and his colleagues ("The people I met were like Stepford Wives. They were true believers in something, and I don't know what it was") and quit after less than three months, but the experience gave him the background to later create a show about the region's people and companies.[7] He recollects also how startup companies pitched to him to make a Flash-based animation in the past as material for the first episode: "It was one person after another going, 'In two years, you will not own a TV set!' I had a meeting that was like a gathering of acolytes around a cult leader. 'Has he met Bill?' 'Oh, I'm the VP and I only get to see Bill once a month.' And then another guy chimed in, 'For 10 minutes, but the 10 minutes is amazing!'"[7]

Filming for the pilot of Silicon Valley began on March 12, 2013, in Palo Alto, California.[1] HBO green-lit the series on May 16, 2013.[8]

Christopher Evan Welch, who plays billionaire Peter Gregory, died in December 2013 of lung cancer, having finished his scenes for the first five episodes.[9] The production team decided against recasting the role and reshooting his scenes; on his death, Judge commented: "The brilliance of Chris' performance is irreplaceable, and inspired us in our writing of the series."[10] He went on to say, "The entire ordeal was heartbreaking. But we are incredibly grateful to have worked with him in the brief time we had together. Our show and our lives are vastly richer for his having been in them."[11] In the eighth episode of season 1, a memoriam is made in his honor at the end of the credits roll.[12] The character of Peter Gregory was not killed off or removed until the premiere of Season 2.[13]

The show refers to a metric in comparing the compression rates of applications called the Weissman score, which did not exist before the show's run. It was created by Stanford Professor Tsachy Weissman and graduate student Vinith Misra at the request of the show's producers.[14][15]

Reception

Critical response

Silicon Valley has received widely positive reviews since its premiere. Metacritic, a website that gathers critics' reviews, presents the TV series with an 84 out of 100 Metascore based on 36 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[16] Similarly, Rotten Tomatoes presents the TV series with a 94% "Certified Fresh" rating, with the critical consensus "Silicon Valley is a relevant, often hilarious take on contemporary technology and the geeks who create it that benefits from co-creator Mike Judge's real-life experience in the industry."[17] The second season has received very positive reviews from critics, and has a score of 86 out of 100 based on nine reviews from Metacritic.[18]

Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter said "HBO finds its best and funniest full-on comedy in years with this Mike Judge creation, and it may even tap into that most elusive thing, a wide audience."[19] Matt Roush of TV Guide said "The deft, resonant satire that helped make Judge's Office Space a cult hit takes on farcical new dimension in Silicon Valley, which introduces a socially maladroit posse of computer misfits every bit the comic equal of The Big Bang Theory‍ '​s science nerds."[20] Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club said "It feels weirdly like a tech-world Entourage—and that's meant as more of a compliment than it seems."[21] Brian Tallarico of RogerEbert.com praised the jokes of the series but commented on the slow progression of the character development in the first two episodes and the reliance on common stereotypes in technology, including "the nerd who can't even look at a girl much less talk to her or touch her, the young businessman who literally shakes when faced with career potential." He goes on to state that the lack of depth to the characters creates "this odd push and pull; I want the show to be more realistic but I don't care about these characters enough when it chooses to be so."[22]

David Auerbach of [23] Auerbach disclaimed that he used to work for Google, and that his wife also worked for them at the time of the review.[23]

Elon Musk, who was present at the premiere of the show in Redwood City, said: "None of those characters were software engineers. Software engineers are more helpful, thoughtful, and smarter. They're weird, but not in the same way. I was just having a meeting with my information security team, and they're great but they're pretty weird—one used to be a dude, one's super small, one's hyper-smart—that's actually what it is. [...] I really feel like Mike Judge has never been to Burning Man, which is Silicon Valley [...] If you haven't been, you just don't get it. You could take the craziest L.A. party and multiply it by a thousand, and it doesn't even get close to what's in Silicon Valley. The show didn't have any of that." However, other software engineers who also attended the same premiere felt like they were watching their "reflection".[24]

Accolades

Year Ceremony Category Recipients Result
2014 SXSW Audience Award[25] Episodic Mike Judge Won
4th Critics' Choice Television Awards[26] Best Comedy Series Silicon Valley Nominated
Best Actor in a Comedy Series Thomas Middleditch Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Christopher Evan Welch Nominated
66th Primetime Emmy Awards[27] Outstanding Comedy Series Silicon Valley Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Mike Judge for "Minimum Viable Product" Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Alec Berg for "Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency" Nominated
Outstanding Art Direction for a Contemporary Program (Half-Hour or Less) Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Design Nominated
2015 72nd Golden Globe Awards[28] Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
67th Writers Guild of America Awards[29] Comedy Series Silicon Valley Nominated
New Series Nominated
19th Satellite Awards[30] Best Musical or Comedy Series Nominated
Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy Thomas Middleditch Nominated
67th Directors Guild of America Awards[31] Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series Mike Judge for "Minimum Viable Product" Nominated
5th Critics' Choice Television Awards[32] Best Comedy Series Silicon Valley Won
Best Actor in a Comedy Series Thomas Middleditch Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series T. J. Miller Won
1st Golden Maple Awards[33] Best Actress in a TV Series Broadcasted in the U.S. Amanda Crew Won
67th Primetime Emmy Awards[34] Outstanding Comedy Series Silicon Valley Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Mike Judge for "Sand Hill Shuffle" Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Alec Berg for "Two Days of the Condor" Nominated

Home media

The complete first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 31, 2015. The set contains all eight episodes, plus audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes.[35]

Broadcast

In Australia, the series premiered on April 9, 2014, and aired on The Comedy Channel.[36] In the United Kingdom, it premiered on July 16, 2014, and aired on Sky Atlantic, while also being available on internet view-on-demand services such as Blinkbox.[37]

References

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External links

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