HBO Silicon Valley Stars Share Tech Secrets


From awkward personalities to wacky start-up names, HBO’s Silicon Valley mocks the pervasive clichés that plague the Valley.

But while the show pokes fun of all the absurdities of the tech promised land, the guys that produce, direct and act in the show are actually pretty impressed by what most of the tech companies are doing.

CNBC talked with the executive producers and two of the main characters at the recent TechCrunch Disrupt NY to get an idea of what they really think about start-up life.

“What comes out of the Valley is pretty amazing. I always say that the one that blows my mind the most is Shazam. That is sorcery to me,” said Alec Berg, an executive producer, writer and co-director of the show. Shazam is an app that can often identify what song is currently playing by simply hearing it.

Actor and comedian Thomas Middleditch, who plays a nervous programmer on the show, said he’s a big fan of Oculus Rift, which started as a Kickstarter project and recently got purchased by Facebook for $2 billion.

TJ Miller, who plays Richard’s business partner Erlich, has even invested and developed an app called ‘Slang with Homies,’ a gaming app similar to Words with Friends.

Insanely high valuations are another thing that fascinates the guys behind the show.

“It is shocking how quickly somebody can just suddenly have $19 billion,” said Mike Judge, who is also an executive producer and director.

“You look at other industries and how long it takes them to accumulate that wealth and then someone just starts a little app and suddenly they’re billionaires and I mean, that’s kinda crazy and absurd.”

With huge software deals, such as Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, it’s a wonder that people are doing anything but making apps, Judge said.

“I think WhatsApp is now valued more than Campbell’s Soup and Xerox, which seems insane to me. Like, I know how to Xerox something and I’ve barely heard of WhatsApp,” Judge said. “Creating a soup company would be a lot harder, I think, than creating an app. … I’d be surprised if anyone keeps making soup actually.”

“It does seem like who’s going to do anything? If it’s not going to be worth $19 billion in two years, why bother? Humanity will just cease to do anything like make food or clothing or shoes. What’s the point?” Judge added.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by TechCrunch

About the author: Cadie Thompson

Cadie Thompson is a technology editor at CNBC.  She is always plugged in and yet also wireless.

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