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Three 'Silicon Valley' Moments Ripped From the Headlines

They did a great job of providing context, but you still might have missed these three real-life tech-company references.


Season 2, Episode 2 of the HBO-produced nerd-Desperate-Housewives had our boys losing their stack of VC offers due to Gavin Belson’s lawsuit suing Pied Piper and saying Hooli owns the intellectual property.

As part of Re/code’s insiders’-eye recaps of the show, we’re going to take a deeper look at three tech companies that were name-checked in the situations leading to the comedy.

Last week, you’ll remember, we had a bevy of "separated at birth" moments while watching. And next week … well, next week is going to be very, very special.

Oh, but this week:

1. Kickstarter Remorse

"Well, he’s still shy of his goal. If he doesn’t get there, none of the pledges get collected."

Oh, Kickstarter. So many worthy (and not-so-worthy) projects, so little time. The rate of successful funding for a well-worded Kickstarter campaign is roughly 38 percent, according to Kickstarter itself. Twelve percent never get a single pledge. Inc. Magazine went so far as to call crowdsourced, non-VC funding "dumb money."

Yet our Facebook feeds are flooded with friends of friends of friends’ sometimes-worthy projects, and often we can’t help but pledge a small amount — or a large amount, which seems endearingly adventurous from behind a goblet of Chardonnay, but regrettable in the harsh, cold light of day. It’s only natural to want to take some of them back, and it’s easy enough to do: Go to the project page, click on "manage" and scroll down.

Of course, the social pressure is real. If you’re showing off by making a huge donation, you must wrestle with the public shame of canceling — which is how so many of us find ourselves in the same boat as Dinesh, but without Gilfoyle upping the bids just to be a dick.

2. Bro-Yo

"He’s trying to get an app called Bro off the ground … It’s a messaging app that lets people send the word ‘bro’ to everyone else that has the app."

"So it’s exactly like the Yo app."

"Yes. But less original."

It’s true. There is an app called Yo, and it started out as a messenger that would only say one pseudo-word to people who also had that app. Which was dumb. Which is probably why they got hacked three days after a huge funding round.

The company has actually pivoted of late, becoming more of an automated alert system — you can have it "yo" you when your package arrives, or when there’s an earthquake, or when Bitcoin value moves more than 10 percent. So that’s actually kind of cool! But still pretty dumb.

Despite all the mockery, Yo has spawned many copyc-apps. You are free to draw your own conclusions about the human race from that fact.

3. Yelp and Google

"This is a classic brain-rape."

"We did it at Hooli all the time. We scheduled meetings with companies so they’d explain their technologies, and we’d use their ideas in our products."

"Like what happened to Yelp!"

Apologies to Lindy West for re-using the term, but this is, in fact, a classic maneuver, one that has left many a company lost in the woods without binoculars. Most famously it was Yelp that was invited next to the toasty-warm Google campfire to tell tale after tale only to find its acquisition cancelled, after which Google went on to borrow Yelp’s content, then create suspiciously similar products.

The writers on "Silicon Valley" do a great job of providing context, but when the show moves fast, you might miss just how deftly they’ve placed their show in the real universe.

This article originally appeared on

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