DVD REVIEW: Silicon Valley, Season 1

HBO’s high-tech Big Bang Theory meets Community & the IT Crowd, as Silicon Valley, gets it’s 1st season release on Blu-Ray & DVD.

“In the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success. The show charts the rising fortunes of Richard, an introverted computer programmer who lives in a “Hacker Hostel” start-up incubator along with his friends Big Head, Gilfoyle, and Dinesh. These social misfits live under the watch of Erlich, a dotcom millionaire who lets them stay in his house for free – as long as he gets a 10% stake in their projects. Stuck working part-time at a large tech company called Hooli, Richard’s obscure website, Pied Piper, is going nowhere fast. But when a mid-level Hooli executive is apprised of the value of the site’s novel compression algorithm, Richard finds himself caught in the middle of an extreme bidding war between Hooli founder Gavin Belson and independent billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory.”


I’m a geek, and by that, I mean a geek in the older sense of the world –  a tech head, as opposed to the more common definition of the word today. I read about HBO’s Silicon Valley when it first aired, and made a mental note that I should watch it, but just the pure volume of other shows being followed meant I didn’t track this. And yet, I instinctively knew that as an engineer, who has worked for several US blue-chip silicon-chip makers, I really should have made the time to catch this comedy… And so this week, the hit show’s first season (and it is a massive hit), is released on Blu-Ray & DVD by HBO. The show is wittily written, although being an HBO show, don’t be thinking this is “before the watershed” TV, as some of the humour and verbal references are downright coarse!

The premise of the show is centred around Richard – an unremarkable code monkey who develops a piece of code for his fledgling music comparison website, that also incorporates a utility to compress/decompress large music files into small ones without any loss of quality. At first, witless to the potential for his program to be applied to video, medical imaging et al, Richard is suddenly inundated with $million offers for code, but is eventually convinced to take the big leap (and the meager $200K start-up capital) and set up his own company with a band of equally talented tech misfits. The show basically follows the trials & tribulations that the start-up endures in getting themselves established, including creating a business plan, coming up with a name, and establishing an organisation with said group of misfits, whilst also fending off competition bent on reverse-engineering their key IP. Apart from being very funny, it is incredibly close to the truth of this industry – some of this is pretty akin to how it works in The Valley – think of how close Yes, Minister is to how the British civil service really works (or doesn’t)! And don’t be fooled into thinking that this is a history lesson of how Jobs or Gates made Apple or Microsoft – just last year a relatively unknown bunch of guys called Nest Labs, making internet-connected heating controllers, sold their company (and there were 200 employees at the time, up from the original 40 three years earlier), to Google for $3.2 BILLION – this show is relevant now!

Features on the DVD include an audio commentary on each episode, a Making Of… documentary, and a couple of special features entitled TechCrunch: Disrupt (the creation of a mock tech expo for one of the episodes) and The Hacker Hostel, focusing on the household in which much of the show is set.

Episode Names:

1. Minimum Viable Product
2. The Cap Table
3.Articles of Incorporation
4.Fiduciary Duties
5.Signaling Risk
6.Third Party Insourcing
7.Proof of Concept
8.Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency

Source: http://www.hbo.com/silicon-valley

GS Rating: 5/5

GS Blogger: Silverfox

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