SPOILER ALERT: Readers, please note: The following item discusses plot points from Sunday night’s season premiere of “Silicon Valley.” If you haven’t viewed the episode yet, please refrain from reading this story or you will be spoiled. You have been warned.
One of the joys of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” is seeing how it lampoons the archetypes of the tech world: the CEO who’s hailed as courageous for laying off half of the company … the engineers who shorthand their obligatory compliments so they can get right to the cutting remarks … the founder who’s tossed out of his company’s top job because he’s created a company that’s too valuable for him to run.
All this was on display in the series’ season premiere on Sunday night, plus a few tech tropes that seem too outlandish for real life. Or are they?
Here are three gags that have real-world tech parallels:
Bambot: At the beginning of the show, two of the central players in the Pied Piper startup that’s the focus of the show are driving down a dark street when their car runs into a deer. But it’s not a deer: It’s “Bambot,” a four-legged robot that’s wearing antlers. On the show, Bambot is the work of the Stanford robotics team. In real life, it’s Spot, one of the walking robo-dogs developed by Boston Robotics. Weirdly enough, Boston Robotics put antlers on a team of Spot-bots for a Christmas sleigh-ride video that went viral.
Holo-stache: Pied Piper’s ousted CEO, Richard Hendricks, checks out a job at another startup that’s working on a secret 3-D holographic project. It turns out that the project is designed to let software users add mustaches to their faces on video. “With your help, we think we can cut our ‘stache-lag’ to just 20 milliseconds, motion-to-photon, in nine months. Just in time for Movember,” he’s told. Hendricks sees the venture as a disappointing comedown, but if you really want to put a ‘stache on your picture, there’s an app for that. Or a Snapchat lens.
Decacorn: The strung-out head of the incubator that houses Pied Piper, Erlich Bachman, gushes that if Hendricks only came back to the company, he could help turn it into a “decacorn.” It turns out that decacorns are real. If a unicorn is a tech startup that’s valued at $1 billion, a decacorn is a fledgling company that has a valuation of at least $10 billion. Among the decacorns roaming around out there: Airbnb, Dropbox, Pinterest, Snapchat and Uber. But beware: Decacorns are becoming an endangered species.