Tech culture satire Silicon Valley, the newest project from Mike Judge (Office Space, Idiocracy), asks a fairly interesting question. It doesn’t tell the story of how someone with a good idea breaks into the tech industry. It asks a far more interesting question: once someone has broken in and their idea has been recognized as genius by the kings of Silicon Valley, what then?
The knee-jerk anwer is, take the money and run. After all, it’s easy enough to dismiss a hot web developer who’s been offered millions, or billions, of dollars as not having any real problems. For a real life analog, look at the widespread derision Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel received when he turned down a $3 billion buyout form Facebook Inc. (FB) . Why didn’t he just take the money?
As Silicon Valley makes clear in its poster, which puts every character into the iconic Steve Jobs pose, in the tech world it’s not that simple. It's not always about money. It’s about power. Start-ups can take the money but that means losing the shot at becoming the next Apple Inc. (AAPL) ; that is, of becoming the next guys who potentially change the world.
Of course, not taking the money also means opening up the potential to become the next nobody, of which the world is already chock full.
In the trailer, we see this play out in a great scene, when the creator of the fictional start-up Pied Piper (Thomas Middleditch) is given “advice” by his doctor (Andy Daly.) Daly recalls another start-up creator in Middleditch’s predicament who killed himself after taking the money. Or maybe he killed himself after not taking it. He can’t quite remember, but “whichever it was, he ended up regretting it so much he shot himself.”
Whether the protagonists pick door A or door B, it will have major consequences for the rest of their lives. And for anyone who’s worked in tech and seen this play out firsthand, all too depressingly familiar.
Silicon Valley premieres on HBO on April 6.
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