HBO’s “Silicon Valley” comedy series presents a California-centric view of how tech is done (and undone), but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Seattle-based Amazon Web Services came in for satirical shout-outs in Sunday night’s season premiere.
As the season’s first episode begins, Pied Piper is pivoting from the data compression and storage business to video chat – specifically, a miraculous smartphone app called PiperChat that can conference an unlimited number of video users at the same time, with no lag or loss of picture quality.
Pied Piper CEO Richard Hendricks poses as an Uber driver and virtually kidnaps a potential VC investor, touting PiperChat’s 120,000 daily active users and the 18 percent week-over-week growth in its user base.
But there’s a problem: The user load is so high that Pied Piper is burning through cash to pay Amazon Web Services for the streaming. There’s no money left to pay Pied Piper’s developers, despite their protests.
“I’m not paying because you’re not the one getting [bleeped] face first by your credit card company because of massive AWS hosting fees,” the startup’s living-on-the-edge backer, Erlich Bachman, tells the team.
This episode of #SiliconValley is sponsored by Amazon. 🙄
— K A T (@emeraldcitylove) April 24, 2017
Meanwhile, Hooli CEO Gavin Belson is in China, celebrating a manufacturing deal for the Hooli EndFrame data storage server (which was one of the products Pied Piper pivoted away from).
Belson raises a champagne toast to the EndFrame box becoming “the most successful American data storage appliance to ever be manufactured in China.”
“Watch your back, Jeff Bezos – here comes Hooli,” Belson says.
Of course, big business bets never work out the way the techies on “Silicon Valley” expect. Let’s just say that Belson gets hung up on issues other than chasing Bezos, while the Pied Piper gang goes through still more head-spinning pivots.
“Silicon Valley” has earned street cred in the Valley and beyond by working authentic tech references into its scripts. Sunday’s show, for instance, touched on such arcana as TURN servers and 12-bit color (“Ten percent better image quality!”).
After previewing this season’s first three shows, Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein tweeted that “the show is at the top of its game.” And Sima Sistani, co-founder and chief operating officer of the video app venture known as Houseparty, gave the show what may be well be the highest form of endorsement:
Writers of Silicon Valley must have our office bugged. First the live streaming and now the pivot to group video chat. 😜
— sima sistani (@SistaniSays) April 24, 2017
What else does “Silicon Valley” have up its sleeve? Will Amazon, Microsoft and other Seattle tech ventures come in for more ribbing in future episodes? Stay tuned…