Season 1 . . . Episode 2 . . . no end in sight . . . I’m not sure how much more I can take.
Now that the dust has settled from the PR, subsequent Valley backlash, promos, more backlash, and last week’s premiere, we actually get to see what we have here with Bravo’s “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley.” Basically, it’s formulaic reality show.
The genre’s hooks and tricks are well established, they just happen to be filmed in Silicon Valley with cast members that are, well, made for TV. I think for many here, there was still some hope that the show would offer a national audience an insider’s look into the motion and the madness in which the Valley operates. Not so much.
Back in 2001, there was a great startup documentary called “Startup.com.” It would have been such a worthwhile endeavor if the producers aspired to create something like that. Instead we’re left with what venture capitalist Ron Palmeri of MkII Ventures calls, “The Housewives of Silicon Valley.”
However, I will say these characters are kind of lovable. (Emphasis on “kind of.”) I even tried to make fun of Sarah Austin on Twitter, but I don’t think she got the joke:
— Sarah Austin (@sarahaustin) November 13, 2012
(Noteworthy here is that whatever was written about the Valley’s disdain towards the cast members was misguided. It’s the idea of a startup reality show that Valley folks disliked, not the people involved.)
Anyways, enough about what could have been and more about that Sony Vaio.
Recap: Ben Way and Hermione Way return to The Villa dejected after being turned down by VC Dave McClure. They start screaming. Um, okay. Kim Taylor is pissing and moaning about work because she’s been there for two years and the cofounder is thinking about bringing in someone more senior to handle sales. This is her first startup job after being a NBA cheerleader, so you know, why wouldn’t she be considered for the Chief Revenue Officer role? Sarah is talking about “Lifecasting” again. I don’t even… oh hey, pool party! David Murray made an “Oedipus” reference to siblings Ben and Hermione during the pool party. Awk!
Friends of the cast finally get some airtime here. I guess all that hard work lingering around the cast members finally paid off! Sarah hosts some VC pitch event. She’s wearing a cute, burgundy dress . . . her tan looks awesome? Totes. Hermione vists Sarah at the Four Seasons to extend an olive branch in the shape of a homemade tiara. Sarah dismisses the hope that she and Hermione will be friends anytime soon. Whatevs. David and new hottie Jay Holanda go play in the park together. Ben and Hermione pitch Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC. Denied! Hermione elects not to sleep underneath the VC’s conference table this time. Smart girl, she’s learning! David and new hottie Jay play Magic and do some brogrammer bonding. Sarah and Jay go on a date, but Sarah ruins it by ‘lifecasting’ it. The end.
How Real? Once again, giving the show the benefit of the doubt we’ll start them off at 100% real Silicon Valley. Last week the show scored a respectable 60% real Valley. Let’s see how they do this week . . .
Getting Rejected By VCs – 10%
After VC Dave McClure shot down their first pitch, Hermione slumps back to The Villa physically tired and emotionally exhausted. There’s quite a bit of drama’ing it up here. Getting rejected, especially at the seed rounds, is quite common for first-time founders. While the constant rejection can take a horrible toll on your ego and self-confidence, founders in the Valley tend to have thicker skin. Being better prepared helps. They certainly don’t scream from the Villatop every time a VC says no. I know one founder that pitched 50 Valley VCs before getting funded. I didn’t even know there were 50 VCs in the Valley.
Kassandra, Sarah’s assistant, asks Sarah if she’s going to Lifecast her date with Jay. Sarah responds that she’s going to because it’s the way for her audience to get to know the ‘real’ Sarah Austin. At this point, I feel it’s my moral obligation to educate the world that we in the Valley have no idea what the hell she is talking about. I’m pretty sure that Sarah means she tweets and Instagrams. If so, yeah, we do do that.
The Pool Scene at the Four Seasons – 20%
I don’t know where to start. There’s a poodle, spray tans, pretty flowers, and a lengthy conversation about feelings and being BFFs. No. No. No! Whatever free time startup people have (and it’s very little) are spent grabbing a quick meal, a few Fernets, and being generally exhausted. We don’t have enough time to have feelings here in the Valley.
Sony VAIO -10%
Ben is seen pitching Jeff Clavier with a Sony VAIO. I’ve heard of these things and I’ve seen them on BestBuy’s site before. I’ve just never seen one in the wild here in the Valley. The Valley is MacBook Air country or if you’re a designer or developer, you’re on a MacBook Pro. Maybe it’s a product placement deal?
Tweeting About Your Date -20%
Sarah meets Jay at his place for their long-awaited date and she starts secretly live tweeting the big event. Here’s another thing that Valley types just don’t do. Between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Socialcam, Tumblr, etc…there’s already an abundance of sharing for the tech set throughout the working day. If there’s one last bastion of privacy that we all hold dear, it’s with our love lives. At the most, we make those posts #PathOnly (yes, that’s actually a thing).
For episode 2, we get a final score of 10% real Silicon Valley. Worse is that the Valley’s interest in this show is sliding like Groupon stock. It just has not been that entertaining. It neither gives you enough of real startup life, nor is it an entertaining reality show. For anecdotal evidence, take a look at the photo I snapped of my girlfriend Amy White during the show. She heads up marketing for Highland Capital Partners and loves Jersey Shore. If Bravo’s Silicon Valley can’t capture her interest, I’m not holding out hope for the rest of the season.