HBO’s “Silicon Valley” gives a whirlwind tour of the triumphs, debauchery, and epic fails of the real tech world. It’s a show so spot-on, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel once called it “basically a documentary.”
In an interview with INSIDER last month, “Silicon Valley” showrunner Alec Berg said the writers find inspiration for the series’ storylines in real events and people.
As season four ramps up, we set out to create the definitive, person-to-person mapping of “Silicon Valley” characters to tech-world personalities. Our guide was largely inspired by a blog post from superfan and tech consultant Rex Sorgatz, which you can read here.
Study up before the next episode of “Silicon Valley” on Sunday night.
Richard Hendricks is the classic Silicon Valley wunderkind who codes his way to the top.
His devil-may-care tousled locks and frazzled personality remind us of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, while his story arc mimics the fall and triumph of Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey. The little blue bird ousted Dorsey in 2008, but he reclaimed the CEO title in 2015.
Gavin Belson combines “mercenary business style” tech CEOs Larry Page, Larry Ellison, and Marc Benioff.
Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) fits all the requirements of a Silicon Valley titan — down to the five-finger running shoes inspired by Sergey Brin’s shoe wear aesthetic.
Belson, who was CEO of a Google-like company called Hooli until his ouster this season, wants to make the world a better place, better than anyone else can. He does so by trampling his competition and lawyering up when someone gets in his way, just like Oracle’s Larry Ellison.
“The CEO of Hooli is clearly patterned after (Salesforce CEO) Marc Benioff,” BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti writes. They both run enterprise companies while also “bettering the world through charity, destroying the competition, and seeking spiritual council from gurus.”
The late Peter Gregory embodied Peter Thiel to his core. (The actor who played him, Christopher Evan Welch, died of a heart attack midway through filming season one.)
Eccentric billionaire and angel investor Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) reminded us of a fellow member of the “three-comma club,” Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal.
Gregory encouraged young genius geeks to drop out of college and start companies, which sounds a lot like the mission of the Thiel Fellowship. “Silicon Valley” showrunner Alex Berg said Gregory was never intended to be a caricature of Thiel, however.
“The honest answer is we didn’t even really know who Peter Thiel was when we did season one, and then people kept saying that the Peter Thiel character, and we started looking at Peter Thiel videos and were like, ‘Oh, I can see why people are saying that,'” Berg told INSIDER.