It was some weird kind of coincidence that on the day that TheWrap hosted its first event for Silicon Valley executives in northern California on Friday, the entire cast of “Silicon Valley” was hanging out in our Los Angeles offices for a magazine photo shoot.
The conversation out of San Francisco was driven by the divide that the event intended to bridge: how technology innovators are impacting content, and how Hollywood storytellers are struggling to adapt to the new reality of 24/7 accessibility over social media . And now there’s Periscope!
That’s the state of play: technology is getting more sophisticated, offering simpler and cheaper tools for story-tellers to use and for consumers to access. So just like before only more so, technology is a good thing and a bad thing in the world of content. It’s a burden and a benefit. A help and a hazard.
Our keynote speaker Chelsea Handler made clear that all this transparency wasn’t welcome. “I’m not thrilled about that,” she said of the constant access. “I don’t want to be bombarded like that. I want it to be more random, I don’t want to have to follow what’s the most popular thing at the time,” she said.
And our panelist Ruth Vitale – the CEO of Creative Future – pleaded for the crowd, from companies all across Silicon Valley including Pinterest, Airbnb, Lyft, Fandor, Maker, Ebay, LinkedIn, Nest, Yahoo and others – to understand about the 60,000 sites out there stealing Hollywood-made programming ‘Twenty-four percent of the Internet is used for piracy,” she said.
Swisher deadpanned: “Now I feel like an asshole for Periscoping this whole event.”
She got a laugh, but then pulled out her phone and proceeded to actually stream the panel on Periscope, which TheWrap was doing as well. Immediately people from all over began streaming in their comments: “Hello from Texas!” said one. “Ask Chelsea about 50 Cent!” said another.
The exercise demonstrated just how fast content-creators need to move to keep up with changing technology. Case in point: Handler hadn’t yet heard of Pericope: “I just learned Periscope – the phrase,” she said, “and I’m gathering what that means.”
Meanwhile, the show “Silicon Valley” continues to send up the culture of Silicon Valley in brilliantly funny ways. Recent episodes have skewered the sheeplike behavior of venture capital investors, the absurd inflation of tech company valuations and, as a constant, the smug self-satisfaction of techies convinced they are improving the world.
Five guys creating an industry-changing algorithm out of a garage in Palo Alto, and being chased by a visionary tech leader who resembles Steve Jobs mixed with Mark Zuckerberg. (I recently heard a senior executive from Apple speak who kept insisting that the place is still run like it’s a small company. Noted. Unmentioned is that Apple is now the biggest company in the history of the world. My takeaway: that’s a major disconnect.)
The show, co-created by a leading Hollywood insider and former Silicon Valley engineer Mike Judge, reflects the entitlement of the vanguard of the digital revolution in all its self-absorbed splendor. (It’s just a fun benefit that Swisher has cameo appearances on the show fairly frequently.)
The show is funny because “it’s exactly like that,” as someone said to me at the breakfast on Friday. Perhaps not exactly, but Judge hits awfully close to home in his commentary on a culture that burns white-hot now, but will eventually fade.
The story-tellers will persist as storytellers do, and the dialogue with the tech wizards up north – well, that just has to continue, maybe over Periscope.
And here’s some of it on video: