Silicon Valley (TV series)

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Silicon Valley
Silicon valley title.png
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 4
No. of episodes 38 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Jim Kleverweis
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 28–30 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original network HBO
Picture format HDTV (1080i)
Original release April 6, 2014 (2014-04-06) – present
External links
Website www.hbo.com/silicon-valley/

Silicon Valley is an American comedy television series created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. The series focuses on six young men who founded a startup company in Silicon Valley.[1][2] The series premiered on April 6, 2014 on HBO.[3]

Silicon Valley completed airing its fourth season on June 25, 2017, and has been renewed for a fifth season, which will premiere in 2018.[4]

Plot[edit]

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)
3 10 April 24, 2016 (2016-04-24) June 26, 2016 (2016-06-26)
4 10 April 23, 2017 (2017-04-23) June 25, 2017 (2017-06-25)

Season 1[edit]

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 demonstrated, 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 wife and ex-wife. 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. Jared accosts strangers with pitches about pivoting the company in another direction, ending in his arrest by police. 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 and he is mobbed by eager investors.

Season 2[edit]

In the immediate aftermath of their TechCrunch 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 venture capital 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% equity 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. The Pied Piper team knows the lawsuit is frivolous.

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], to make people think 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.

Season 3[edit]

After failing to convince the board of directors to keep him on as Pied Piper CEO instead of demoting him to Chief Technology Officer, Richard threatens to quit and sue to regain his intellectual property. Richard meets with a company called Flutterbeam that wants to hire him as CTO. However, after being disappointed by their work, he rejects the offer and decides to stay with Pied Piper. Afterwards, Richard meets with Jack Barker, Raviga's choice for the CEO of Pied Piper. Richard struggles under Barker's leadership, which includes spending money on extravagant offices, completely changing the business model to one that goes against the company ethos, and later forcing Richard to work on an idea that he himself came up as a poor idea to demonstrate his frustration. Eventually, when the time comes to pitch the idea to the board, Monica sides with Richard and votes against it. Subsequently, Laurie fires Jack in response to his mocking that she could do nothing to stop him, and she permits the team to commence work on the platform. The CEO position is left empty by Laurie.

Meanwhile, at Hooli, Gavin Belson discovers that the now invalid employment contracts would allow him to fire affected employees without severance and take back unvested stock options. Belson fires the entire Nucleus team, and uses the profits from the reclaimed stock options to offer Big Head a $20 million severance package in exchange for non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements. The fired Nucleus team goes to work for Endframe, and manage to set up a rival product to Pied Piper, which Gavin purchases for $250 million oblivious to the fact that he is hiring back the programmers he just fired. Big Head uses his $20 million to set up his own Incubator under-cutting Erlich, so Erlich partners with him and then exploits Big Heads's lack of business savvy to take control. However, because of Big Head and Erlich's spending habits (including a multimillion-dollar Luau on Alcatraz) they declare bankruptcy, and Erlich is forced to sell his stake in Pied Piper to repay the debts. Meanwhile, after a story about Gavin scrubbing the Internet of bad press about himself is leaked by Big Head, and an attempt to steal a copy of the Pied Piper beta leads to the resignation of all of Endframe, the Hooli board of directors vote to remove him as CEO. After being removed as CEO, Gavin decides to go on a holiday to take his mind off everything. At the airport which hosts his private jet, he bumps into Jack Barker, the now-fired CEO of Pied Piper. They have a little chat, wherein Gavin incorporates Jack into his Hooli revival. Gavin now makes a new presentation in front of the board of directors. where he tells them of his "strategy" to keep up with the industry. He introduces Jack Barker as the new head of development and starts working on the "box" that Jack had set his mind to at Pied Piper.

After regaining his CEO position, Richard fires the staff members Jack hired and moves the company back into Erlich's house. The company hires contract engineers from around the world to help construct their application platform. Dinesh becomes attracted to one of them, a woman in Estonia, and initially she seems to reciprocate his feelings; he hacks together a superior video chat application using Pied Piper's algorithm to better pursue her, only to have her lose interest when she sees what he looks like over high-fidelity video (also revealing that she "has a boyfriend").

Eventually their platform reaches a point where they invite friends in the industry to test it, to universally positive reviews. The only negative response is from Monica, who says that she just doesn't understand how it works and that it seems too "engineered". She encourages Richard to trust his own instincts and release the platform if he feels it is ready, which he does.

After release, hundreds of thousands of people download the Pied Piper platform, leading to thoughts of a Series B funding round, and a sense of triumph when the Hooli board decides to allow it to be sold in the online Hooli Store. However, only a small fraction of the people installing the platform remain as daily active users. Focus groups investigating why this is the case reveal that Monica's instincts were correct – although it is an engineering triumph, most people do not understand how the platform works and find its design confusing and counter-intuitive. Richard decides that the best way to address this is through an outreach program to try and better explain the system, but this effort fails. Despondent, Richard expects the company to close down, but regains confidence at a sudden uptick in usership – which was due to Jared secretly employing a click farm in Bangladesh to artificially inflate usage statistics.

Richard soon discovers the deception and confronts Jared about it, and they agree to keep the secret to themselves, but Dinesh and Gilfoyle soon realize what is happening. Dinesh gives Richard a scrambling program which would hide the evidence in the case of an audit by future investors or regulators, which Richard seems prepared to use. Erlich, not knowing the real nature of the uptick, starts rumors about it and plays competing VCs against each other, leading to a very lucrative potential Series B funding deal from Raviga rival Coleman Blair. But before the deal is signed, Jared implores Richard not to take it, because it is based on fraud. An anxious Richard reveals the source of the uptick at the signing meeting, leading to the deal being scrapped and the company's reputation plummeting. Laurie no longer wishes for Raviga to be associated with Pied Piper and moves to sell majority control to any investor. At first the only person willing to buy seems to be Gavin Belson, who wishes to use the purchase to shut Pied Piper down permanently, but an unexpected windfall from the sale of a blog they bought while business partners leads Erlich and Big Head to buy control of the company. The original team (along with Monica, who was fired from Raviga for standing up to Laurie), having regained control, prepares to pivot again, this time to become a video chat company, based on the sudden popularity of Dinesh's video chat application which he included on the platform.

Season 4[edit]

Pied Piper pivots to PiperChat and Richard steps down as CEO. Richard suggests Dinesh as the new CEO of PiperChat. Richard instead decides to create a new internet, that would be powered by a network of cell phones without any firewalls, viruses and government regulations getting in the way. Richard plans on using his compression algorithm to compress files and make the new internet more compact and easier to use. The team eventually discover their app is in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and would be fined $21 billion if he's caught. Gavin Belson buys out PiperChat despite not knowing its legal troubles. As a result of this, Gavin puts Hooli on the hook for all of the COPPA violations, and although Jack finds a way to delete the data and shut down the app before an audit can take place, this proves to be the last straw for the Hooli board of directors, who remove him as CEO and expel him from the company.

Richard discovers in Peter Gregory's old files that he had seen the potential in a decentralised, peer-to-peer internet back in the 1990s, but had abandoned it due to the lack of processing power at the time. Richard soon learns that the idea had been patented by Gavin Belson when he, along with Peter Gregory and others, founded Hooli. Richard is able to convince Gavin to sign over the patent and they become business partners. Richard hires Jared and Gilfoyle for the project, with Dinesh soon joining afterward. A disillusioned Gavin decides to leave Palo Alto, handing Richard full ownership of the decentralized internet patent.

Richard is fed up with trying to convince investors and instead goes directly to the customers, presenting the project to companies so they buy the product even if it's not built yet. After several failed meetings, FGI, an insurance company accepts their deal. Erlich inadvertently crashes into a tech meeting with Keenan Feldspar, whose VR headset is the Valley's latest sensation. Having previously failed to convince Monica and Laurie to hire him at their new VC company Bream-Hall, he uses Feldspar and his promising tech as leverage to get a job with them. Keenan Feldspar signs with Bream-Hall, but Monica and Laurie avoid hiring Erlich by giving him a generous finder's fee.

Richard needs to attract investment from another client due to FGI's recent surge in data processing requirements as they are responsible for the overages. Richard meets with Keenan Feldspar, even though Richard thinks VR tech is a fad. Without Richard knowing, Dinesh and Gilfoyle integrate Pied Piper's middle out compression algorithm into Feldspar's VR, which greatly improves it. As a result, Feldspar offers to acquire Pied Piper altogether. Richard doesn't want this, so he counters with an offer of $25 million, with hopes that the offer will be rejected, but Feldspar still accepts. Richard intends to concede, but Monica warns him that Feldspar's VR doesn't have future value, promising that she will fund their series A round if they can implement the decentralized internet project on a sufficient number of cell phones. After texting him telling him the deal is off, Richard learns that Feldspar has already signed with Hooli, abandoning Erlich in the process.

Richard decides to enter Hooli-Con, Hooli's tech conference, to put Monica's challenge into practice. The team heads to Hooli-Con with a plan to mask the Pied Piper app as the event's Wi-Fi access point using strategically placed routers, in order to get Pied Piper installed in the maximum number of phones possible. After running into his ex-girlfriend Winnie, who is presenting her boyfriend's app, Richard sabotages their laptop's screensaver, which triggers a 'tactical response team' sent by Hoover, Hooli's head of security. He tries to warn Jack Barker that Pied Piper is up to something, but is violently dismissed and threatened to be fired. After Hoover finally catches Dinesh and Gilfoyle red-handed on CCTV, he lets them go as Richard once collaborated with Gavin Belson to hinder Jack Barker's plans at Hooli and he sympathizes with this. Pied Piper finally gets installed on a sufficient number of phones, which allows Richard to move all of FGI's data into the app, eliminating the need for an auxiliary data server and its related costs. Jack Barker and Keenan Feldspar present their VR mobile tech to the world, but it fails miserably and causes Hooli phones all over the auditorium to explode. Meanwhile, Erlich decides to accept Gavin Belson's invitation (originally addressed to Richard) to come and join him at a monastery in Tibet, to Belson's shock.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

  • Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendricks, a college dropout and ex-coder at tech giant Hooli, Richard quits his job to pursue his Pied Piper compression application. For the most part, Richard is timid and quiet, and does not have much of a temper, but when he finally reaches his limit, is prone to extreme explosions of anger. 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 (seasons 1–4), 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. Despite being relatively unsuccessful in his own entrepreneurial ventures, he is a competent public speaker and negotiator, and is often seen as the "face" of Pied Piper.
  • Josh Brener as Nelson "Big Head" Bighetti, a former tenant of Erlich's incubator and Richard's best friend who also works at Hooli. He is clueless and impressionable, but still manages to acquire significant influence as a result of the struggle between Hooli and Pied Piper. 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 continually promoted so rapidly that buzz develops about him, and he ends up on the cover of Wired magazine. 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. After a disastrous binding arbritration with Pied Piper, Gavin makes Big Head redundant and pays him $20 million in severance, which he blows through very quickly when Erlich tricks him into entering into a business arrangement with him. Big Head then buys a majority stake in PiperChat following the sale of a technology blog he and Erlich owned. Due to his poor business skills, his father takes over control of his share on his behalf.
  • Martin Starr as Bertram Gilfoyle, a LaVeyan Satanist network engineer 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 system administration and server configuration at Pied Piper. 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. Like Dinesh, Gilfoyle is acerbic and sarcastic, but in contrast, highly apathetic, sardonic and brutally honest. He acts as the systems architect of Pied Piper.
  • Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh Chugtai, a talented programmer specializing in Java 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 he liked. Dinesh is also shown to be especially materialistic and unsuccessful with women.
  • 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 socially inept, eccentric and unpredictable, once delaying a crisis business meeting to sample Burger King products for eight hours in order to identify a potential new investment. Welch died after the fifth episode of season 1 was completed, but the character remained present off-screen for the remainder of the season. Gregory later died in the season 2 premiere.
  • 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, is often a deciding factor whenever major decisions arise, such as Richard's decision to go with Raviga over Hooli, Monica's persistence in keeping Pied Piper on board whenever Laurie considers dropping them and, later in the series, Monica's willingness to side with Richard at the eventual cost of her position. In season 4, she leaves Raviga to partner with Laurie at her new VC firm.
  • Zach Woods as Donald "Jared" Dunn, an ex-VP of Hooli who quits the company in order to join the Pied Piper team as its CFO and business advisor. Like Richard, Jared is meek and reserved, but gains confidence as the series progresses and the company's success necessitates it. He is also exceedingly optimistic, selfless and thoroughly devoted to Richard, sacrificing his high-paying and financially secure job at Hooli to lend his business expertise to Pied Piper. 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, aside from Richard who often defends him, though he tends to be oblivious of this or too awkward to actually understand the insult.
  • Matt Ross as Gavin Belson (recurring season 1, starring season 2–present), the chief innovation officer and founder of tech giant Hooli, who embodies the soulless 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. Gavin's hubris and vindictive streak is often the root cause of many of Hooli's problems, such as the failure of Nucleus, the constant slew of PR disasters and his decision to take over PiperChat with no due diligence.
  • Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream (season 2–present), the replacement for Peter Gregory at CEO of Raviga Capital, and later co-founder of Bream Hall Capital with Monica. Like her predecessor, Laurie is highly intelligent and 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, as well as selling Pied Piper as its reputation is severely damaged after Jared's deceptive practices. Little is known about her personal life, but in Season 4 she is pregnant with her fourth child.
  • Jimmy O. Yang as Jian-Yang (recurring season 1, starring season 2–present), 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 broken English but slowly and with a heavy Chinese accent. He and Erlich have frequent disagreements, and during Season 3, Episode 2, after finding out how difficult it is for a landowner to evict a tenant, Jian-Yang decides to take advantage of this and live rent-free in Erlich's house for a year. Jian-Yang often insults and makes prank calls to Erlich, and enjoys tormenting him.
  • Stephen Tobolowsky as Jack Barker (recurring season 3, starring season 4), briefly the CEO of Pied Piper after Richard was voted out. Later he becomes involved with Hooli on their Endframe Box, though is later demoted by Gavin. Subsequently, he became CEO of Hooli after Gavin Belson was fired.
  • Chris Diamantopoulos as Russ Hanneman (recurring season 2–3, starring season 4), an unpredictable, selfish and bizarre billionaire investor who provides Pied Piper with their Series A. In the fourth season premiere, he agrees to fund Richard's 'new internet' project. Richard ultimately does not go with this funding offer, choosing instead to partner with Gavin Belson.

Recurring[edit]

  • Aly Mawji as Aly Dutta/Naveen Dutt (seasons 1–3), a Hooli coder who bullies Richard and Big Head. He is charged with working on Nucleus as a lead engineer.
  • Brian Tiechnell as Jason Winter (seasons 1–3), a Hooli programmer who bullies Richard and Big Head. He is also charged with working on Nucleus as a lead engineer.
  • Jill E. Alexander as Patrice (seasons 1–3), a Hooli employee.
  • Andy Daly as a Silicon Valley doctor whom Richard regularly sees
  • Ben Feldman as Ron LaFlamme, Pied Piper's young, laid-back but competent outside counsel.
  • Gabriel Tigerman as Gary Irving (seasons 1–3), the human resources manager at Hooli.
  • Bernard White as Denpok, Gavin's sycophantic spiritual advisor.
  • Matt McCoy as Pete Monahan (season 2–present), a disgraced former lawyer who represents Richard, Erlich and Pied Piper at the binding arbitration of the Hooli lawsuit.
  • Alice Wetterlund as Carla Walton (seasons 2–3), a programmer and friend of Gilfoyle and Dinesh's who joins the Pied Piper team.
  • Chris Williams as Hoover (season 3–present), head of security at Hooli.
  • Haley Joel Osment as Keenan Feldspar (season 4)

Production[edit]

Mike Judge, co-creator of Silicon Valley.

Co-creator and executive producer Mike Judge had worked in a Silicon Valley startup early in his career. In 1987 he was a programmer at Parallax, a 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.[5] 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!'"[5]

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.[6]

Christopher Evan Welch, who plays billionaire Peter Gregory, died in December 2013 of lung cancer, having finished his scenes for the first five episodes.[7] 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."[8] 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."[9] In the eighth episode of season 1, a memoriam is made in his honor at the end of the credits roll.[10] The character of Peter Gregory was not killed off until the premiere of Season 2.[11]

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.[12][13]

In May 2017, it was announced that T.J. Miller would be exiting the series after the fourth season.[14]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 94% (50 reviews) 84 (36 reviews)
2 100% (19 reviews) 86 (9 reviews)
3 100% (17 reviews) 90 (15 reviews)
4 100% (16 reviews) 85 (10 reviews)

Silicon Valley has received critical acclaim since its premiere. Metacritic, a website that gathers critics' reviews, presents the first season with an 84 out of 100 Metascore based on 36 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[15] Similarly, Rotten Tomatoes presented the first season with a 94% "Certified Fresh" rating and an average score of 7.94 out of 10 based on 50 reviews, 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."[16]

The second season also received critical acclaim, and has a score of 86 out of 100 based on nine reviews from Metacritic.[17] On Rotten Tomatoes, the season received a 100% rating with an average rating of 8.3 out of 10 based on 19 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "Silicon Valley re-ups its comedy quotient with an episode that smooths out the rough edges left behind by the loss of a beloved cast member."[18]

Its third season also received critical acclaim. On Metacritic, the season has a score of 90 out of 100 based on 15 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[19] On Rotten Tomatoes, the season received a 100% rating with an average rating of 8.5 out of 10 based on 17 reviews. The site's consensus reads, "Silicon Valley's satirical take on the follies of the tech industry is sharper than ever in this very funny third season."[20]

The fourth season has received critical acclaim. On Metacritic, the season has a score of 85 out of 100 based on 10 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[21] On Rotten Tomatoes, the season received a 100% rating with an average rating of 7.8 out of 10 based on 16 reviews.[22]

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."[23] 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."[24] 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."[25] 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."[26]

David Auerbach of Slate stated that the show did not go far enough to be called risky or a biting commentary of the tech industry. "Because I'm a software engineer, Silicon Valley might portray me with my pants up to my armpits, nerdily and nasally complaining that Thomas' compression algorithm is impossible or that nine times F in hexadecimal is 87, not 'fleventy five' (as Erlich says), but I would forgive such slips in a second if the show were funny."[27] Auerbach claimed that he used to work for Google, and that his wife also worked for them at the time of the review.[27]

Other reactions[edit]

Elon Musk, after viewing the first episode of the show, 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."[28]

In response to Musk's comments, actor T.J. Miller, who plays Erlich on the show, pointed out that "if the billionaire power players don’t get the joke, it’s because they’re not comfortable being satirized... I’m sorry, but you could tell everything was true. You guys do have bike meetings, motherfucker.” Other software engineers who also attended the same premiere stated that they felt like they were watching their "reflection".[28]

In January 2017, in an audience interaction by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, Gates recounted the episode in Silicon Valley where the main protagonists try to pitch their product to different venture capitalists reminding him of his own experiences.[29]

Accolades[edit]

Year Ceremony Category Recipients Result
2014 SXSW Audience Award[30] Episodic Mike Judge Won
4th Critics' Choice Television Awards[31] 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[32] 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) Richard Toyon (production designer), L.J. Houdyshell (art director) and Cynthia Slagter (set decorator) for "Articles of Incorporation" Nominated
Outstanding Main Title Design Garson Yu (creative director) and Mehmet Kizilay (designer/lead animator) Nominated
2015 72nd Golden Globe Awards[33] Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Silicon Valley Nominated
67th Writers Guild of America Awards[34] Comedy Series Silicon Valley Nominated
New Series Nominated
19th Satellite Awards[35] Best Musical or Comedy Series Nominated
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series Thomas Middleditch Nominated
67th Directors Guild of America Awards[36] Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series Mike Judge for "Minimum Viable Product" Nominated
5th Critics' Choice Television Awards[37] 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[38] Best Actress in a TV Series Broadcast in the U.S. Amanda Crew Won
67th Primetime Emmy Awards[39] 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
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series Brian Merken for "Two Days of the Condor" Won
Tim Roche for "Sand Hill Shuffle" Nominated
Outstanding Art Direction for a Contemporary Program (Half hour or less) Richard Toyon (production designer), L.J. Houdyshell (art director) and Jenny Mueller (set decorator) for "Sand Hill Shuffle" Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation Ben Patrick (production mixer), Elmo Ponsdomenech (re-recording Mixer) and Todd Beckett (re-recording mixer) for "Server Space" Nominated
2016 73rd Golden Globe Awards[40] Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Silicon Valley Nominated
68th Directors Guild of America Awards[41] Outstanding Directing – Comedy Series Mike Judge for "Binding Arbitration" Nominated
20th Satellite Awards[42] Best Musical or Comedy Series Silicon Valley Won
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series Thomas Middleditch Nominated
68th Writers Guild of America Awards[43] Comedy Series Silicon Valley Nominated
Episodic Comedy Clay Tarver for "Sand Hill Shuffle" Won
2nd Golden Maple Awards[44] Best Actress in a TV Series Broadcast in the U.S. Amanda Crew Nominated
Newcomer of the Year in a TV Series Broadcast in the U.S. Amanda Crew Won
68th Primetime Emmy Awards[32] Outstanding Comedy Series Silicon Valley Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Thomas Middelditch for "The Empty Chair" Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series Mike Judge for "Founder Friendly" Nominated
Alec Berg for "Daily Active Users" Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Dan O'Keefe for "Founder Friendly" Nominated
Alec Berg for "The Uptick" Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Program (Half Hour or Less) Richard Toyon (production designer), Oana Bogdan (art director) and Jennifer Mueller (set decorator) for "Two in the Box", "Bachmanity Insanity" and "Daily Active Users" Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series Tim Roche for "Daily Active Users" Nominated
Brian Merken for "The Uptick" Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half Hour) and Animation Todd Becket (re-recording mixer), Elmo Ponsdomenech (re-recording mixer) and Ben Patrick (production mixer) for "Bachmanity Insanity" Nominated
Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series Jeanne McCarthy, Nicole Abellera Hallman and Leslie Woo Nominated
7th Critics' Choice Television Awards[45] Best Comedy Series Silicon Valley Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series T. J. Miller Nominated
Television Critics Association Awards[46] Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Silicon Valley Nominated
2017 21st Satellite Awards[47][48] Best Musical or Comedy Series Silicon Valley Won
Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Series Thomas Middleditch Nominated

Home media[edit]

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.[49] The second season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 19, 2016. The set contains all ten episodes, plus six audio commentaries, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and deleted scenes.[50] The third season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on April 11, 2017. The set contains all ten episodes, plus deleted scenes.[51]

Broadcast[edit]

In Australia, the series premiered on April 9, 2014, and aired on The Comedy Channel.[52] 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.[53] In New Zealand, the series airs on pay TV network Sky, on the SoHo channel.[54]

References[edit]

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  4. ^ Petski, Denise (May 25, 2017). "‘Veep’ & ‘Silicon Valley’ Renewed By HBO". Deadline. Retrieved May 25, 2017. 
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External links[edit]