HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ Offers a Fresh Narrative on American Innovation

By Brent Glass


There is a new villain in town.  Well, not really.  But there is a new villain in most American offices… The IT guy.  Hardly any other professional wields such power in businesses today.  As America continues to rapidly advance technologically, there are millions stuck in the technology of the 1980s.  Surprisingly (or maybe not), “IT guys” oftentimes hold even more power than managers.  This is not to say managers do not retain the final say on certain questions, they most certainly do, but what good is a manager today when their technology fails and capacitates them?  Not much.  They’re quick to call the IT department, if in-house, or phone a computer-savvy friend – if they have one.  Managers and employees both recognize this intangible power, which fuels the flame of repressed hate.  If you’re one of those people – you know, who can’t stand for someone to have power over you, especially “nerds” – you probably shouldn’t visit California’s Silicon Valley any time soon (those dudes at Microsoft even considered “silicon valley” misspelled.  The gall!)

Welcome to Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is the nickname for the southern parts of the San Francisco Bay-region, reaching all the way to San Jose.  This region of California is home to many of the world’s largest technology companies, as well as thousands of start-ups.  The moniker “silicon valley” was derived from the area’s high-volume of silicon chip innovators.  Eventually the term was applied for all technology-based companies.  Billions upon billions of dollars are made in Silicon Valley each year.  The region boasts the most millionaires and billionaires per capita in the United States.  The average high-tech salary in Silicon Valley is roughly $144,000, also the highest in the nation for high-tech jobs.  The region has enlightened the country about many aspects of modern life.  Unsuspectingly, Silicon Valley even solidified the benefit of high-density areas in an increasingly technologically advanced world.

Even with modern marvels such as Skype, Silicon Valley shows the importance of face-to-face communication.  Sure, part of the reason these companies chose to congregate to the region is the ease-of-business but also because of the proximity of their counterparts and, often times, their competition.  The urbanity of Silicon Valley allows a flowing stream of communication, ideal for sharing ideas, acquiring companies, and creating start-ups.  The region has approximately 225,000 high-tech jobs today and is estimated to grow; it’s an important facet of American innovation.  In light of these facts, HBO made a show.  The title of this show?  Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley premiered Sunday night and it showed promise.  The pilot episode introduced us to the general premise of the show.  At the helm of Silicon Valley is Richard, played by Thomas MIddleditch.  Richard has a typical nerd appeal; he is goofy looking and socially hopeless, yet very endearing.  He also may look familiar.  That would be because of his small roles in The Kings of Summer, The Campaign, and The Wolf of Wall Street.  Richard works at Hooli (the seemingly fictionalized Google), a technology company that seems to have its dick in everything.  Hooli (like Google) has its own public transportation system and most employees are simply looking for “the next big thing” to break out.

Richard lives with other entrepreneurs, all of whom live rent free for the price of 10% of their brainchild.  Richard’s brainchild is a music site that can recognize the melody of any song in seconds, searching for other songs that may already have copyrighted the material.  The gold of Richard’s site, however, lays within a component of his site.  Unbeknownst to Richard, he created a compression algorithm that enabled large files to be minimized and accessed without losing any quality.  As happens often in Silicon Valley, many businesspeople rush to offer Richard a buy-out before he realizes the full impact his discovery could have.  Richard, who has never had this much attention in his life, struggles with the decision.  Should he sell for millions now?  Or, should he sell a percentage of his company while maintain the operating power?

The first episode offered a plethora of laughable moments, an especially memorable one in which Richard has a panic attack, yet has a much deeper meaning.  The show will certainly explore the notion of innovative integrity as well as downfalls in a burgeoning technological world.  I’m excited to keep watching.



Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is creating a social media management business (Connect You Consulting) and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Urban Development.


Categories: Television

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1 reply

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