Tonight's episode of Silicon Valley starts with the Pied Piper team squirming under the imperious glare of their last investor, Gavin Belson, and ends with Richard (Thomas Middleditch), practically vibrating with unease, on the world's most awkward elevator ride with Pied Piper's new backer, Dan Melcher (Jake Broder). Between those two bookends are a series of comic meditations on the friction between socially inept Silicon Valley programmers and the equally quirky VCs they resentfully rely on.
Richard, who bristles at the guru status achieved by superstar VCs, is deeply wounded when firm after firm refuses to meet with him after they learn that Gavin is gone. In Richard's view, the tech, as he keeps insisting, is the only thing that matters, and money men like Gavin keep appropriating or undermining ideas and technologies developed by people like Richard. No wonder he'd like to find a way to develop and roll out his software without interference from “all these crazy billionaires,” charging users in advance the way condo developers sometimes do. To the extent that Richard is right about VCs, his throwaway notion could be the financial equivalent of his cellphone-powered Internet idea, a potentially game-changing way to bypass a system that's increasingly aimed at exploiting rather than serving end users.
Then again, VCs sometimes have more to offer than funding. Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos) is overreaching when he calls Richard's peer-to-peer Internet “our idea,” but Richard might never have articulated or decided to pursue that idea without Russ's intuitive prodding in “Success Failure.” Monica (Amanda Crew) has helped Richard develop his ideas, most recently by leading him to Peter Gregory's notes on a peer-to-peer Internet. And even Richard admitted last week that Pied Piper needed Gavin not just for his patent and his money, but for his actual brains.
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