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Bill Gates: HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ is the best way to understand tech



young bill gates 1992
Bill Gates in 1992 — well after Microsoft would be
considered a startup, but before it became the tremendously
powerful global force it is today.


  • Bill Gates has a message for those in the tech industry
    who think that HBO’s “Silicon Valley” is too critical: lighten

  • “I always tell them: ‘You really should watch it,
    because they don’t make any more fun of us than we deserve,'”
    writes Gates, who has consulted on the show.

  • Gates says he identifies most with Richard
    Hendricks, the CEO of fictional startup Pied Piper, “who is a
    great programmer but has to learn some hard lessons about
    managing people.” 

  • His one gripe with the show is that it makes the
    mega-corp Hooli look inept compared to its upstart rival 
    — but he admits that he may be biased in favor of large

There are those in the real-world Silicon Valley who think that
HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” the network’s long-running satire, is too
critical of the tech industry. 

But in a
new blog entry
, no less than Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates
has a message for those people: lighten up. 

“I have friends in Silicon Valley who refuse to watch the
show because they think it’s just making fun of them,” writes
Gates. “I always tell them: ‘You really should watch it, because
they don’t make any more fun of us than we deserve.'”

“Silicon Valley,” which is going into its sixth season,
details the adventures of Pied Piper, a data compression startup
that can’t quite seem to catch a break. It also follows Gavin
Belson, the CEO of Google-esque mega-corp Hooli, who borrows
attributes from real-life execs including Salesforce CEO Marc
Benioff and Oracle founder Larry Ellison. 

In his blog entry, Gates says that he’s one of the many tech
execs who were consulted by the show’s creators to ensure
authenticity — creator Mike Judge and his production team have
interviewed the likes of former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and
investor Marc Andreessen, even embedding
at a hardware startup
to ensure that a running gag rang

Gates writes that all of that effort paid off, as the show is an
accurate lampooning of the types of people and companies that he
knows so well. He says that he identifies the most with Richard
Hendricks, the founder of Pied Piper, “who is a great
programmer but has to learn some hard lessons about managing

The show is a parody, so it exaggerates things, but like
all great parodies it captures a lot of truths,” writes

Read more:
The characters of HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ are inspired by real
people in the tech world — here they

Similarly, Gates likes the way that the show depicts
entrepreneurs and startups.

“Even a huge believer in technology like me has to laugh
when some character talks about how they’re going to change the
world with an app that tells you whether what you’re eating is a
hot dog or not,” he writes. That’s a reference to an infamous
“Silicon Valley” gag where a character makes a cutting-edge
AI-powered app that can tell you, indeed, if something is a hot
dog or not. The show’s creators even released it as a real
iPhone app

He does have one bone to pick, though, with how the show
depicts Hooli, the Goliath to Pied Piper’s David, as bloated and

“Although I’m obviously biased, my experience is that small
companies can be just as inept, and the big ones have the
resources to invest in deep research and take a long-term point
of view that smaller ones can’t afford,” writes

Of note is that while Gates may relate to the journey of
Pied Piper, their stories are very different.

The fictional Pied Piper got off the ground after Hendricks
and his friends quit Hooli to chase a novel new piece of
Gates and his late cofounder Paul Allen started Microsoft after
moving to New Mexico
to chase an opportunity with a
then-revolutionary microcomputer. Gates and Allen definitely had
their own problems, but they never had to fend off an angry
ex-employer with an axe to grind. 

Also of note is that not everybody in Silicon Valley seems
to love the show as much as Gates. Astro Teller, best known as
Google’s moonshot boss, is said to have once huffed out of a
meeting with the show’s producers and
tried to make a dramatic exit — on Rollerblades

You can read Gates’
full thoughts on HBO’s “Silicon Valley” here

Get the latest Google stock price here.

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