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Friday, April 4, 2014

A Tech World Insider Reviews HBO’s “Silicon Valley”

No stranger to the strangeness of the tech world, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti offers his take on HBO’s hilarious and incisive comedy Silicon Valley . TL;DR: He liked it. A lot.

BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti — who also co-founded the Huffington Post and Reblog — was given screeners of the first five episodes of HBO's Silicon Valley. BuzzFeed Entertainment Editorial Director Jace Lacob asked Peretti to share his thoughts about the Mike Judge comedy series, which launches Sunday, April 6. What follows is Peretti's email to Lacob about the show.

Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods, and T.J. Miller star in HBO's Silicon Valley.

Isabella Vosmikova / HBO

Don't confuse Silicon Valley for a tech-savvy Entourage. It might be the anti-Entourage, but it isn't the new Entourage. The characters are too awkward, the interactions with women are too stilted, and it is hard to imagine men, even geeky men, watching this show with the same vicarious pleasure many of them got from Entourage.

As a startup founder, I was very excited to see this show, but didn't have any preconceptions and hadn't read anything about it. Watching the first few episodes, it is clear that it will be very enjoyable for people who aren't in the industry and impossible to resist for people who are.

The world Mike Judge created isn't very realistic, but it takes many real trends and extrapolates them into hilarious parody. People from the Bay Area startup world will be very familiar with the raw material of Judge's satire: the cult-like utopian company campuses filled with logos, branding, and free snacks; the earnest insistence that every startup is "changing the world"; the competitiveness of billionaire moguls to win deals; the single-industry town with a tech monoculture where everyone (your grocery store clerk! your doctor!) has a startup idea they want to pitch; the obsession with ownership percentages and stock options; and, as the show develops, the stresses and challenges of actually building a business from nothing.

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