Silicon Valley doesn't like the looks of this Bravo reality show that will show the bro-ey realities of the tech start-up scene because it might tarnish this reputation as very important do-gooders techies think they have. "Many here were offended, saying it would trivialize the difficult and important work being done in the valley," writes The New York Times's David Streifeld. Rather than show all the world-changing SoMoLo (social, mobile, local — duh) copy-catting these tech businessmen do, the program, like all good reality TV, will show boozing and drama. Though we're sure Bravo will leave out some of the work stuff that happens in the Valley — "In the editing process, we try to get rid of everything that is going to be a snooze," Bravo President Frances Berwick told Streifeld — we also don't think this sounds too far off from at least some of the realities of Silicon Valley life.
The issue here is not the show, it's that Silicon Valley has delusions of what its CEOs think the are — some higher form of business trying to save the world — and what life there is really like. Here's the perception: "We’re so bland," Jamis MacNiven, whose restaurant Buck’s is a popular Silicon Valley haunt, told Streifeld."People spend their weekends taking out last year’s incredibly energy-efficient bulb and screwing in this year’s even more energy-efficient bulb," he said. Okay, some Silicon Valley uber-nerds might spend their weekends screwing in light-bulbs, but there is also a documented culture of partying out there. Even if the term brogrammer has a satirical tone, it references a sort of cool kid programmer that has emerged, who likes to code and play beer pong. Even in the early years of Facebook, the young entrepreneurs partied, which Katherine Losse writes about in her book the Boy Kings: A Journey to the Heart of the Social Network. And then there was that lavish birthday party for Yammer CEO David Sacks the other week. Don't tell us partying doesn't exist out there — of course it does.
As Bravo reality shows go, we don't doubt the producers take this reality to its extreme. But producer Randi Zuckerberg (and notorious partier) makes a valid point: "Trust me, enough people in this industry make laughingstocks of themselves," Zuckerberg tweeted as a response to someone fearing the show would make a "laughing stock" of the industry. "We’re just capturing reality!" The wealth and partying exists, Silicon Valley just isn't comfortable with the rest of us knowing about it because it will indeed tarnish the faux reputation these guys "important work" like "making the world more open and connected." Just as Facebook fosters a culture of "reticient rich," which encourages employees keep their wealth hidden as not to tip us off to the fact that all their important work serves to make these men very rich, Silicon Valley likes to keep this aspect of life out there underground, too -- because it makes them look bad.
Lucky for Silicon Valley, at this point, Bravo reality TV shows have become caricatures of Bravo reality TV shows. So we doubt those who end up watching -- seasoned Bravo watchers, no doubt -- will think it depicts any sort of norm. But, getting all defensive about it doesn't help their case, either.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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