It’s no secret that HBO’s Silicon Valley often dips into real-world tech bro bullshit for its storylines (any specific billionaires out there want to prolong their life with young people’s blood?), and some of those jokes come directly from real-world tech bros who help consult on the show. Bill Gates comes from an era when people who worked in tech were disparagingly called “nerds” instead of “bros,” but in a recent post on his Gates Notes blog (via The Wrap), he says he still sees a lot of things that ring true in Silicon Valley. He even says that he sees a lot of himself in Richard Hendricks, the struggling Pied Piper CEO played by Thomas Middleditch who is good at coming up with high-minded technological innovations but bad at literally everything else. Gates suggests that he, like Richard, is a “great programmer” who has had to “learn some hard lessons about managing people.”
Gates’ larger point in the blog is that anyone who wants to understand what the tech industry is like today should just watch Silicon Valley, even though he knows people who refuse to watch the show because “they think it’s just making fun of them.” It is, certainly, but Gates says “they don’t make any more fun of us than we deserve.” His one issue with the show, though, is that it tends to depict the small up-and-coming companies like Pied Piper as noble underdogs while the big corporations like Hooli (the show’s stand-in for a Google-esque super-company) are “mostly inept.” Gates famously had a hand in putting together a super-company like that of his own, so he knows he’s “obviously biased,” but he says the small companies in the real Silicon Valley are just as likely to be inept as the big ones.
That may be true, but a TV show about a rich CEO who constantly comes up with great innovations and succeeds over the crappy loser startups wouldn’t be particularly fun. At the very least, there probably wouldn’t be nearly as many dick jokes as on Silicon Valley.