Welcome to the newest installment of our "Silicon Valley" Re/cap, where we connect HBO’s satire to the real world. Or, at least, Silicon Valley.
Well, that was a nail-biter of a season finale. Phew. It was nicely done: A dramatic wrap-up that left us with questions, but not the ones we expected to have for the first 25 minutes of the show.
I’m telling you right now, if you haven’t seen the episode, stop now and watch it before reading, because there are several layers of reveal that are so skillfully done, it’s actually a pleasure to feel your blood pressure spike. You’ve been warned. Spoilers ahoy!
How Can You Get Fired From the Company You Founded?
We all know, intellectually, that it can happen, because it happened to Steve Jobs. But the wonderful/terrible double-firing of the two CEOs drove home the emotional impact of such a loss. Yet it’s actually pretty common in the tech world because so many of these startups are the brainchild of someone whose talents lie in innovation rather than in making business decisions.
A great example that explains why a founding CEO sometimes must be excised for the good of the company: Rob Kalin, who sired Etsy. As the craft-sale site grew, he proved himself to be both a terrible manager and a terrible businessman. His co-founders fled; one employee likened working for him to being "in an abusive relationship." The only chance the company had for success was if he was removed. So he was.
Even devoted Richard-lovers on social media seemed to agree that just because he invented a visionary thingy doesn’t mean he makes good business decisions.
What will happen to Richard next? He still retains his seat on the board, though it’s impossible for him to get a majority vote because Monica will have to vote with Raviga or lose her job. He won’t be broke, but it’s going to be awkward, and Laurie Bream can bring in another CEO. Which could be Erlich. Or they could hire Gavin. Yeah. They really could.
How Much Did Erlich Lose When He Didn’t Sell His House?
One of the many emotional peaks of this mountain-range of an episode came when Erlich was offered an all-cash offer for the increased value of his home, and literally slammed the door in the face of that opportunity, proudly declaring the house to be "the world headquarters of a company keeping streaming video of a man who’s about to drink his own urine online for tens of thousands of Filipinos." "I knew you wouldn’t sell," Jared says, admiringly, as Erlich dons his filthy wrist-guards and sits down at a computer to join the rest of the team in keeping the servers online for the duration of the livestream.
A recurring theme on the show is the rejection of an offer in favor of something greater — either the potential for more money or the integrity of an ideal. It’s why Richard opts for the relationship with Raviga rather than a one-time payout from Gavin in the first episode. It’s why Jared leaves Hooli to live in Erlich’s garage. And here, it’s why Erlich turns down an all-cash offer on his corner lot in Palo Alto. The show doesn’t talk numbers, but living in the Bay Area gives one an unhealthy obsession with real estate.
So. How much cash did Erlich turn down? A close analysis of the show reveals that Erlich sold Aviato in 2008, and the address is listed (on the self-driving car episode) as 5230 Newell Road, which doesn’t exist. A search of nearby crappy-looking five-bedroom homes with a backyard pool shows a recent sale for about $2.8 million, which is, coincidentally, the median value of a Palo Alto home. That median value was $1 million in 2008, so when Erlich slammed that door, he turned down almost $2 million in profit — a 300 percent return on investment.
No wonder Jared was so thrilled.
What Do We Do Now That the Season Is Over?
In conclusion, and looking forward, we’re looking to fill a geek-shaped hole in our Sunday nights. It just so happens that AMC’s "Halt and Catch Fire," a series dramatizing the personal-computer boom of the early ’80s in Dallas, also airs at that time. And it seems to be the logical replacement.
Here’s proof: Nearly identical scenes of geeks punching holes in walls to make room for the cables keeping the very important servers running so that nerds can watch/play something of questionable necessity ("Silicon Valley": A livestream of a man stuck in a crevasse forced to drink his own pee to survive; "Halt and Catch Fire": An online text-based game).
Spy Magazine used to call that a Trend of Two.
At any rate, "Silicon Valley" has ended the season on a tense note, but not a hopeless one. While we’re waiting for Season 3, are you guys into "Halt and Catch Fire"?
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.