Real Entrepreneurs Weigh In On Start-Ups: Silicon Valley

Last night Start-Ups: Silicon Valley premiered in Bravo. The show follows a group of six Silicon Valley residents who range in ages from 26 to 32 and are bloggers, entrepreneurs, engineers, marketers and programmers for start-ups. If you thought you were going to be watching a show about the difficulties of starting a company in such a competitive landscape and innovative new technologies then you were wrong. After all, this is Bravo. Home of The Real Housewives of whatever franchise. The show is focusing on the social lives of these young people and it just happens to take place in a community that saw the mega success stories of tech geniuses like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates (which the cast will probably remind us of at least once every episode.)

Producer Randi Zuckerberg told Vanity Fair:

People need to realize that this is a reality show, not a documentary—if we were filming a documentary of Silicon Valley, the footage and the casting would be significantly different. But we’re not. We’re filming a wonderfully guilty-pleasure Bravo show. You look at shows that are on air—you have shows like Honey Boo Boo and Storage Wars and Hillbilly Hand-fishing. Surely it’s time for a show that glorifies women and technology and entrepreneurship.

And a guilty pleasure it most certainly is. In the first episode alone we got to go to two costume parties, exhibit a cat fight, a hangover, a spray tan and watch Sarah Day order room service for her dog. She is like a grownup version of Eloise from Eloise at the Plaza except I actually would want to hang out with Eloise and her pug, Weenie.

People should not have gone to Bravo, a network that called an interview between Andy Cohen and Jill Zarin, their Frost/Nixon, to expect this show to have anything to do with coding (though people did talk about doing coding.) Chris Matyszczyk a creative director who advises major corporations on content creation and marketing and a tech writer said, “Do you love intrigue, gossip, affairs, parties, beautiful bodies, inflated egos, bad clothes and money? This show is for you.” But it seems that some people don’t appreciate the joke.

“The entire thing is just horrendous,” tech blogger Francisco Dao told NYMag a few weeks ago.  “The real people in tech are out building companies, doing real work, and along comes this show that is just a terrible misrepresentation of their lives, and it hijacks their work.”

TechCrunch Editor Alexia Tsotsis tweeted, “The thing that people hate most about that ‘Silicon Valley’ show is how egregiously it diminishes all our hard work.”

In a particularly scathing review Sam Grobart of Bloomberg BusinessWeek wrote:

“Even the most dreadful reality show can still perform the documentary act of exposing viewers to a world different from their own. It may be altered and goosed and heightened, but watching, say, The Real Housewives of Orange County does in fact show you something about life in Orange County. The problem with Start-Ups is that there’s absolutely nothing that’s reflective of the place and culture that is Silicon Valley.

Start-Ups: Silicon Valley is executive produced by Randi Zuckerberg, Mark’s dilettante sister, whose master plan includes hosting a talk show. When it came to this project, Zuckerberg said her role was to “[help] make sure that Bravo could capture the real, authentic Silicon Valley.” Based on the evidence, it would appear that Zuckerberg uses words like “real” and “authentic” about Silicon Valley the same way Taco Bell  might toss them in when describing a Meximelt.”

We asked a few entrepreneurs who have worked in Silicon Valley their thoughts on the show. But it seems that some negative reviews of the previews turned a lot of people off. We asked quite a few but many of them were too busy working like Kathryn Minshew, founder of The Daily Muse. Lauren Leto, founder of Texts from Last Night and Bntr, also said she wasn’t able to watch it because she doesn’t have a TV but even if she did, she wouldn’t have.

Venture capitlist Charlie O’Donnel told us:

“I don’t really feel like I need to watch shows about start-ups, because I work with real ones everyday.  It’s the same reason I’ve never seen Shark Tank.  My guess is that most entrepreneurs and investors in New York City were too busy building businesses–or still recovering from Sandy as it was many people’s first day back in the office–to watch.”

One female founder of digital media company that recently moved from Silicon Valley told The Grindstone:

“The show is literally a parody of start-up life and culture with a few actual major players or at least Silicon Valley buzzwords involved (e.g. “Dave McClure,” “former Google employee”). The same way The Real Housewives of New Jersey does not reflect the actual lifestyle or culture of many (or truly) wealthy people in New England, this show offers a seriously commercialized, warped and tainted version of the real life of entrepreneurs (which, frankly, is endless work to the point of bare minimum hygiene).

Silicon Valley made a name for itself based on the ingenuity of visionaries passionate men and women who understand human behavior and creating solutions to massive consumer problems. At its core it is highly intelligent, selfless and future focused. The people on this show do not reflect these qualities or attitudes whatsoever! (And the whole raising $500K from Dave McClure is literally a cliche.)”



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