As much as any popular entertainment of the past six years -- and more than most -- the HBO comedy “Silicon Valley” provided a satirical yet strangely accurate chronicle of the rise and fall of a tech company.
Premiering in 2014, “Silicon Valley” traced the story of its era -- an era in which young (or at least young-ish) entrepreneurs in jeans, sweaters and hoodies worked out of garages and group homes to create tech products that they promised would disrupt and change the world as we knew it.
That world was a rich vein for comedy -- and the creator of “Silicon Valley,” Mike Judge, was just the guy to do it.
When the curtain came down this past Sunday night on HBO, “Silicon Valley” was apparently as prepared to reflect the tech world as it is today as it was when it premiered in 2014.
This time, hubris became the enemy of hope, and success proved elusive to the core of entrepreneurs who created and built the fictional Pied Piper Corp.
They believed the system they invented would change the internet forever -- giving billions of people the world over “the internet they deserve,” in the words of the company slogan.
Instead, a system glitch at the last moment -- which made itself known when a four-dot ellipses changed seemingly by itself to three dots -- doomed the technology and the company.
In one day, thanks to a single dot in a routine text message, the company went from a market value of billions to zero.
This outcome was not exactly what happened to WeWork in the real world, but it was close enough for a viewer to suspect that the story of WeWork served as an inspiration for the “Silicon Valley” writers.Without giving too much away, the glitch became catastrophic when the system went live. Most notably, it caused a spectacular invasion of the rodents most closely associated with the original Pied Piper of legend. This infestation was seen on the show overrunning San Francisco.
The “Silicon Valley” finale was styled as a documentary apparently being produced 10 years after the fall of the Pied Piper company. Most of the principals participated in the documentary interview process, which gave us a glimpse at what they are doing now.
They were each involved in different pursuits, but their occupations all had one thing in common: They each held jobs they were not particularly qualified to hold, including one character who became the president of Stanford University.
In depicting today's tech world, the show got it right. Today, the tech titans of just a few years ago are not looking as heroic as they once did.
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is continually being dragged before Congress to explain his company's excesses, WeWork went south (and in the process, the world learned it was not really a tech company anyway) and Uber lost its license to operate in London while its drivers make headlines for assaulting passengers.
What does the future hold for the real Silicon Valley? Maybe another satirist will come along in a few years and show us.