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Amazon stirs up laughs on ‘Silicon Valley’

Silicon Valley
HBO has ramped up the tech-themed comedy “Silicon Valley” for its fourth season. (HBO Illustration)

HBO’s “Silicon Valley” comedy series presents a California-centric view of how tech is done (and undone), but Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Seattle-based Amazon Web Services came in for satirical shout-outs in April 23’s season premiere.

The show centers on the travails of a startup called Pied Piper, often suffered at the hands of Hooli, a monolithic Google-like company.

As the season’s first episode begins, Pied Piper is pivoting from the data compression and storage business to video chat – specifically, a miraculous smartphone app called PiperChat that can conference an unlimited number of video users at the same time, with no lag or loss of picture quality.

Pied Piper CEO Richard Hendricks poses as an Uber driver and virtually kidnaps a potential VC investor, touting PiperChat’s 120,000 daily active users and the 18 percent week-over-week growth in its user base.

But there’s a problem: The user load is so high that Pied Piper is burning through cash to pay Amazon Web Services for the streaming. There’s no money left to pay Pied Piper’s developers, despite their protests.

“I’m not paying because you’re not the one getting [bleeped] face first by your credit card company because of massive AWS hosting fees,” the startup’s living-on-the-edge backer, Erlich Bachman, tells the team.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

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3 ‘Silicon Valley’ jokes with a kernel of truth

Image: Holo-stache
Coder extraordinaire Richard Hendricks (played by Thomas Middleditch) checks out a virtual mustache in a scene from HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” (Credit: HBO)

SPOILER ALERT: Readers, please note: The following item discusses plot points from Sunday night’s season premiere of “Silicon Valley.” If you haven’t viewed the episode yet, please refrain from reading this story or you will be spoiled. You have been warned.

One of the joys of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” is seeing how it lampoons the archetypes of the tech world: the CEO who’s hailed as courageous for laying off half of the company … the engineers who shorthand their obligatory compliments so they can get right to the cutting remarks … the founder who’s tossed out of his company’s top job because he’s created a company that’s too valuable for him to run.

All this was on display in the series’ season premiere on Sunday night, plus a few tech tropes that seem too outlandish for real life. Or are they?

Check out GeekWire for three gags with real-world tech parallels.