Upcoming "Silicon Valley" reality show raises questions of authenticity
The show places technology entrepreneurs together in a house in San Francisco. The Times describes the cast as "hard-partying youngsters." There is no mention of writing code or debugging software, which are as essential to a technology startup as oxygen is to humans.
"The show has long been in development with very little input from anyone in Silicon Valley," Randi Zuckerberg, executive producer, said in a Facebook post. "By signing on, I hope to bring a lot of value by advising on how to best capture the spirit of technology and entrepreneurship throughout production."
Zuckerberg is deeply connected to the Silicon Valley story - her brother is co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and she was the former marketing director for the company. She hopes that by consulting on the show - which she says was planned before she signed on - she will help capture the "spirit of technology and entrepreneurship throughout production."
However, the tech culture in the Silicon Valley is not exactly known for its glitz and glamour. Engineers in the Bay Area have been known to show up to work in T-shirts and jeans. Leading up to Facebook's initial public offering, Mark Zuckerberg was blasted for wearing a hooded sweatshirt to meetings with investors.
Understandably, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are concerned with how they will be represented on a reality TV show.
"Popular reality TV is based on personal drama, conflict and entertainment. Programming algorithms doesn't make for good TV. That means Hollywood will have to manufacture and encourage drama," Digg.com co-founder Kevin Rose told CBS News by email.
Rose, who was once dubbed as the most famous man on the Internet, is exactly the type of success story the producers of the show might be looking for. The young entrepreneur has launched or invested in tech start-ups like Digg, Revision3 and Gowalla. Now at age 35, Rose is a partner at Google Ventures.
"I worry that cameras and producers will end up being a distraction for any of the companies involved...we're here to build lasting businesses not become reality TV stars," Rose said.
A start-up that's changing the healthcare industry by advancing electronic medical records technology, Practice Fusion hopes the show will portray the pioneering spirit of tech start-ups in the Silicon Valley.
"I'm sure the show will be entertaining, as Bravo's shows usually are, but what is most exciting about Silicon Valley is the world-changing technology that is being built here," Matt Douglass, co-founder and vice president of engineering, told CBS News.
The San Francisco-based company was singled out by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
"We want to serve as inspiration to other technology startups as an example of true progress, regardless of how the Silicon Valley tech community is depicted by television media," Douglas said.
There are several famous Silicon Valley success stories, but they don't quite happen overnight or under one roof. Most tech startups begin with an idea and are built on endless hours of writing code.
Perhaps one of the most symbolic estimations of the reality show "Silicon Valley" comes from Evernote CEO Phil Libin, who heads a company that was a 2008 start-up and has since grown into a company with with an estimated $1 billion valuation.
"I've never heard of it, sorry. Hope Bravo does a good job," Libin told CBS News.
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