Earnings Over-Ride: Lessons from HBO’s Silicon Valley


If Pied Piper was our client around the time of their launch, we would have posed the following questions: 

What is your mission statement?

What does Pied Piper stand for? What makes you different from Hooli, outside of faster compression speeds? What do you want the public to know about you? What sentiment do you want them to remember? If it’s that you’re a “compression company,” you’re in trouble. If it’s the message on Jared’s jacket - “Because ‘awesome world-changing compression company’ would have taken up too much space.” - you’re in even deeper trouble. Mass audiences probably won’t understand what being a “compression company” means; saying that you’re “awesome” or “world-changing” is a red flag that suggests to customers that you don’t know how to actually help them; and being clever seldom equals clarity. The Pied Piper team is basically going through an identity crisis, but an agreed-upon mission statement would help to begin a much larger conversation about how this company could relate to its users. 

What are your talking points? 

If you’re going on television to promote your product, you really must have clearly defined talking points ready to go. What do you want users to know about you? Why should they care? Why are you different? What are the benefits users should expect? Mass audiences don’t really care about the CEO, or Elrich Bachmann’s SEO issues. They care about themselves and how your offer can make their lives easier or better. This is yet another reason why understanding your user, collecting feedback, and truly listening to early adopters is so vitally important for “crossing the chasm” to more mainstream audiences. You need to have a message solidified before you launch. What is your product? What problem does it solve? Why should people care? Dig forever deeper into those questions, and then you’ll find your answer. Then, when sharing your mission, be concise, honest, and bold. 

Why hire a “Head of PR” so soon?

If you don’t have a mission statement or a message you’re fighting to spread, then you shouldn’t hire a public relations professional. Their job is to spread your message, not necessarily create it for you. And if you don’t know who you are or why your idea is important, they can’t really do their jobs effectively - and that makes everyone feel like shit all around. Then again, if you’re ready for your message to go viral, be sure you have the infrastructure in place to support this valuable engagement. How will you collect email addresses, feedback, and knowledge moving forward? Remember the old adage: work smart, not hard. 

Who should really be CEO? 

If it were up to us, the CEO of Pied Piper would be Jared. Clearly he’s more attuned to administrative obligations than any of the other team members. He cares about things like swag, human resources, contracts, SWOT analysis, and marketing. Richard, on the other hand, only cares about the platform. He’s the tech genius, not the bureaucrat. He’s a much better fit for CTO. Why? He hates doing public appearances, he hates talking on TV, and he resents all of the little details that keep him away from his technology. Jared, on the other hand, has proven himself to be a loyal ally capable of fulfilling the role of CEO without getting in Richard’s way. Therefore, we can only conclude that Richard is CEO purely out of ego rather than doing what’s best for his own company. This is most likely d to a cultural sickness in which CEOs are seen as the most important company asset, as opposed to the person who just oils all of the gears. And while this is outside of our jurisdiction as writers, it seems blatantly obvious that being CEO shouldn’t be a goal for Richard, and maybe that the role of CEO isn’t as important as society suggests. 

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