A clip lasting just seconds was enough to put the real people of Silicon Valley in a tizzy over a Bravo reality television show tentatively titled “Silicon Valley.”
The show, still in development, will chronicle the lives of five relative unknowns “on the path to becoming Silicon Valley’s next great success stories.”
Echoing a grievance germinating across Google+ Circles, Facebook Timelines, and Twitter updates, Pete Cashmore, Mashable’s CEO and my former boss, berated the very premise of the show. Boring, he says.
“Its brief preview showcases the glamorous life of a tech startup founder: Lots of parties, alcohol, attractive women, and a social scene that is like ‘high school, but it’s only the smart kids,’” Cashmore writes. “The problem: The tech industry isn’t like that at all.”
I beg to differ. To say that Silicon Valley is too boring for television is to gloss over the (sad?) reality of the culture of technology circles.
Sex. Drugs. Lies. Scandal. These things are as much a part of the Silicon Valley milieu as the entrepreneurial spirit — because when 20-somethings jockey for power and giant paydays, shit goes down.
The Bay Area is an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of launch parties, private dinners, exclusive clubs, and celebrity investors, where brilliance and extravagance combine to create scenes more entertaining than fiction. Here, technology’s brightest minds are celebrated as heroes — often worshiped. But lives, personal and professional, hang in the balance with each failed product release.
Turn a corner in San Francisco’s SOMA district, and you’ll find drama waiting in the wings. Whispers of mammoth financing rounds and talks of even bigger buyouts heard underneath awnings and in elevators.
Drama thrives in Silicon Valley and the broader Bay Area. The co-founder of the hottest social site on the planet mysteriously departs his company. Drama. Master product guy Blake Irving leaves Yahoo amidst a company restructuring and patent war with Facebook. Drama. Instagram sells for a $1 billion and its founder becomes an overnight $400-million man. Drama. PR people cozy up to tech reporters and tech reporters get close to their sources. Drama. A rapper shares a joint on stage with techies at a private party. Drama.
Let’s also not forget that, years ago, a certain someone was tossed from a competitor’s party in a mini web scandal that screamed must-watch television.
Maybe Bravo’s reality series won’t showcase the most heartwarming side of entrepreneurship, and maybe the world really doesn’t care about the gritty, ins and outs of what it takes to build a great company. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Because hovering around the hard-at-work entrepreneurs are the vultures and the leeches. That makes for great television, folks.
And we’ve barely even touched on the parties. The best party you’ve never been to is the one that Sean Parker held in conjunction with Spotify, financed last September after Facebook’s developer conference. Oversized tequila bottles welcomed guests before The Killers, Jane’s Addiction, and finally Snoop Dogg took the stage. You weren’t invited, but “Silicon Valley” star Hermione Way was there.
Sure, what you’ll see on TV may be a hyperbolical version of the truth that involves characters of little significance, but rest assured that drama is very much alive and well in Silicon Valley.