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Silicon Valley episode 3: What's in a name

Philip Michaels | April 22, 2014
If Silicon Valley had a soapier (and hackier) bent, some of the big reveals in the third episode would be played up as can-you-believe-it-style twists. But in the episode entitled "Articles of Incorporation," the twists are merely there to re-emphasize what a bumpy road awaits Richard (Thomas Middlemarch) as he tries to turn Pied Piper into the next billion-dollar company. And the chief bump this week is that Richard doesn't actually have the right to call his company Pied Piper--there's a sprinkler system maker doing business under that moniker, and if it's going to give up that name, its founder wants to be paid his share of Richard's still-theoretical riches.

If Silicon Valley had a soapier (and hackier) bent, some of the big reveals in the third episode would be played up as can-you-believe-it-style twists. But in the episode entitled "Articles of Incorporation," the twists are merely there to re-emphasize what a bumpy road awaits Richard (Thomas Middlemarch) as he tries to turn Pied Piper into the next billion-dollar company. And the chief bump this week is that Richard doesn't actually have the right to call his company Pied Piper — there's a sprinkler system maker doing business under that moniker, and if it's going to give up that name, its founder wants to be paid his share of Richard's still-theoretical riches.

Your other plot twists? Jared (Zach Woods) says his real name is Donald and that he only goes by the former name because tech titan Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) mistakenly called him that once and no one thought to correct him. Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) reveals that he's an illegal immigrant from Canada. And Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) finds himself contemplating the mysteries of Burger King, ordering one of every item on the menu. Would anyone care to partake in some BK?

Jargon Watch: There's relatively little inside baseball in this episode, though a Beverages & More clerk does try to pitch Richard on an app that can log where you park — provided you can type in your Vehicle Identification Number. Why not just jot down your car's location on a notepad, Richard wonders. And thus dies another Silicon Valley dream.

The show continues to have a good ear for the tech industry's tendency to tout consumer-friendly innovations as world-changing discoveries. "If we can make your audio and video files smaller," Gavin Belson declares in a video announcing a rival product to Pied Piper's algorithm, "we can make cancer smaller. And hunger. And AIDS."

Tech World References: Belson's video appears on TechCrunch, which also gets name-checked alongside Re/Code and Pando Daily when Pied Piper goes on its own PR offensive. (Can't help but feel a little left out there, Mike Judge, just in case you cared about my feelings.) Ehrlich Bachman's (T.J. Miller) hallucinogenic-fueled vision quest to find a new name for Pied Piper includes floating icons for Internet Explorer, Yahoo, and Twitter. It's good to see the AOL stick figure getting some work again.

Bachman Behaving Badly: Bachman's boasts to assorted tech websites — again, would it have killed you to work in a TechHive shout out somehow? — only drives up the sprinkler company's asking price for the Pied Piper name from $1000 to a cool quarter-million. Bachman's vision quest goes awry when he takes one or six mushrooms too many and winds up doing unspeakable things to the wall of a gas station restroom. He can also check "triggered an Amber Alert" off his bucket list.

 

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