Spoilers forward for the penultimate episode of Silicon Valley.
Within the newest season of Silicon Valley, startup Pied Piper braves every kind of obstacles, from an aggressive pizza firm making an attempt to steal their coders to contending with their archnemesis Hooli’s Galvin Belson (performed by Matt Ross). In final evening’s episode, it addresses some of the salient problems with the tech world: Bitcoin. Within the course of, it explains two generally complicated facets about cryptocurrency: why are folks obsessive about Bitcoin and why aren’t extra folks getting wealthy off it?
Bitcoin enters the image when Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) and Bertram Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) create a plan to launch their very own cryptocurrency in hopes of constructing a fast buck. They’re absolutely immersed within the cryptocurrency craze, believing that it’s going to increase sufficient capital to remove their have to depend on a enterprise capital agency, and in addition look good for his or her model picture to construct a decentralized web funded by decentralized cash.
If this present adopted the sample of earlier seasons, they’d’ve lucked out and located thousands and thousands of in funding, just like the messaging app Telegram raising $1.7 billion in personal rounds of funding in its digital tokens, or the Winklevoss twins who invested in Bitcoin again in 2013 and are actually billionaires. Had the present gone down that route, it could have invested even additional within the widespread fantasies round speculative digital tokens as fast routes to quick money. As a substitute, the present cuts to the PiedPiperCoin’s launch value at a tragic $zero.07 per token, and the dissatisfied faces of your complete firm. “Richard, adversity is a good trainer,” says Jared (Zach Woods), consolingly, “Similar to cigarette burns.”
The scene lower successfully brings the present crashing down into the cruel actuality of cryptocurrency; almost half of preliminary coin choices launched in 2017 failed by February. It’s under no circumstances straightforward to get wealthy in an industry stuffed with numerous unpredictable issues together with hacks, schemes, high transaction fees, and regulatory scrutiny. Somewhat than feeding the hype, the present does a stable job of depicting what a unstable and wild route launching an ICO may be for a tech startup. In a single scene, Monica (Amanda Crew) warns Richard in opposition to hopping on the Bitcoin bandwagon, by saying, “Earlier than you stroll away from stability and gamble your complete firm on crypto, there’s one other good friend of yours I believe you need to speak to.” Monica factors to Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos), a flashy billionaire who has all the time made questionable enterprise selections, as a major instance of what not to do.
We be taught that of the 36 ICOs that Hanneman launched, just one has really earned him again all the cash he’s blown. Sadly, his maid threw away the keys to the cash, which have been saved on a thumb drive, so he’s combing via a large pile of rubbish to seek out it. For instance how determined his state of affairs is, his employee finds him an actual thumb and never a thumb drive.
It’s a ridiculous sequence of occasions, however it’s precisely the type of inanity that makes Silicon Valley beloved amongst tech lovers. In a tradition the place an increasing number of folks have begun mining cryptocurrency utilizing their very own mining rig setups or invested into exchanges in hopes of constructing a fast buck, it’s refreshing to see Silicon Valley keep away from the lure of blindly selling these digital cash that may typically blow up in buyers’ faces. Likewise, it could be unfair to color all cryptocurrency-related corporations as shady companies, and the present’s not fairly saying that both. Even the SEC chairman Jay Clayton, who leads quite a lot of the regulatory scrutiny in opposition to the foreign money, has admitted that the expertise behind cryptocurrency holds “unimaginable promise” for the monetary trade.
Cryptocurrency just isn’t a black and white subject, and regardless of typically being more of a soap opera than a real depiction of tech issues this season, Silicon Valley manages a nuanced and balanced method to protecting this advanced matter. It’s a uncommon and wanted viewpoint in a sphere the place many individuals are eagerly selling one ICO or one other, whereas notable public figures like Warren Buffett have suggested folks to remain from it altogether. Because it’s new expertise, staying away ceaselessly doesn’t appear to be good recommendation, however neither is investing with out studying all of the superb print and preserving vigilant in opposition to fraud. As a substitute, it’s higher understood as a subject that requires quite a lot of clever thought or dumb blind luck to revenue in.