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HBO's 'Silicon Valley,' Season 2, Episode 1: Cameos and Lookalikes

We did a little fact-checking, a little gossip mongering and a lot of side-by-side comparing of the second season's kickoff.

HBO

Hey, tech nerds! "Silicon Valley" is back! The half-hour HBO comedy does a masterful job of lampooning South Bay culture, and sometimes we who are of this world can’t decide whether we’re in on the joke or not. We wanted to welcome it back for its second season by applauding some of our favorite moments in this first episode.

Let’s begin with the most cringeworthy moment in a pretty cringe-inducing show, which came before the first episode even premiered. Basically, let’s just acknowledge that these are not the same people:

 (L) Kumail Nanjiani, age 37, plays Dinesh on Silicon Valley. (R) Kunal Nayyar, age 33, plays Raj on The Big Bang Theory. Not the same guy.
(L) Kumail Nanjiani, age 37, plays Dinesh on Silicon Valley. (R) Kunal Nayyar, age 33, plays Raj on The Big Bang Theory. Not the same guy.
HBO/CBS

Not the same guy. But hey, everyone makes mistakes, even Salon.

Anyway! Once the episode started, it was full of inside-baseball references — like the opening scene, which takes place at a super-awkward, obscenely expensive party on the field of AT&T Park that the stereotypical denizens of Y Combinator have little interest in. Our staffers wondered: Was that inspired by last year’s "Founder Field Day" at AT&T Park, hosted by Rothenberg Ventures? Did anyone go? Was it really that awkward?

And there was the first cameo that delighted locals. "Ooh, the Winklevoss twins," says T.J. Miller as Erlich Bachman, referring to the real-life twins who sued Mark Zuckerberg. "They’re like two genetically enhanced Ken dolls. … Cameron’s the left-dominant one, right? I’m gonna come at him from the right side, try to herd them back together. You know, without spooking them."

 A Winklevoss and a Winklevoss. Also not the same guy, but at least they’re in the same ballpark.
A Winklevoss and a Winklevoss. Also not the same guy, but at least they’re in the same ballpark.
HBO

The next cameo we loved was the appearance of actual code. Well, sort of. Erlich’s T-shirt had several lines of binary code. We briefly considered trying to copy them down and run them through an online translator, but instead opted to watch Reddit for the inevitable lazy-person’s answer. The shirt says "bitcoin."

HBO

As Erlich and Richard go on their insult-the-VCs tour of possible funders, we thought we might have spotted a sly reference to a certain redesigned logo that raised eyebrows this past year. "Your logo looks like a sideways vagina," Erlich snaps. "I find that to be racist, don’t you?"

 (L) A fictional logo. (R) A real logo. Not the same … gal?
(L) A fictional logo. (R) A real logo. Not the same … gal?
HBO/AirBnB

Of course, we loved seeing Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel get faux-irritated at Peter Gregory’s memorial, when the speaker before him hints that his company might have been overvalued. If you want to see how he really sits on the hot seat, you can come see him speak at the Code Conference next month.

We also had to wonder who was the inspiration for the halting speech and lack of eye contact of Laurie Bream (played by Suzanne Cryer), the replacement for the deceased Peter Gregory at the helm of his venture capital firm. In fact, at the second-season premiere, our fearless leader, Kara Swisher, asked show creator Mike Judge if Laurie Bream was a little slice of Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, and got an assent that Mayer was "one of" the inspirations.

 (L) The real Marissa Mayer. (R) The fictional Laurie Bream. Possibly the same gal!
(L) The real Marissa Mayer. (R) The fictional Laurie Bream. Possibly the same gal!
Getty Images / HBO

And what about Richard’s possible love interest, the crushworthy heart of the show, Monica Who-Has-No-Last-Name? Who could have inspired her? Who indeed. Who. Indeed.

 (L) Actress Amanda Crew. (R) Re/code Senior Editor Lauren Goode. Winklevossy, aren’t they?
(L) Actress Amanda Crew. (R) Re/code Senior Editor Lauren Goode. Winklevossy, aren’t they?
HBO/Recode

And what about the inspiration for a company actually refusing Series A funding because it doesn’t want to fail at impossible aspirations? Could there have been a real-life inspiration for that bold move? "It certainly makes sense, and I have seen it happen," said Gordon Davidson of Fenwick & West, a law firm that frequently advises on such matters. "All money isn’t equal. The founders might be better served by taking money from a firm who knows their business" and can provide the right guidance. "I frequently advise clients to do that," he added. And "I have seen ones where it was probably the right result."

Update: Actor Kunal Nayyar’s age was corrected from an earlier version of the story.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.