HBO’s Silicon Valley is doing its part to usher in ICOs to the mainstream, as evidenced by the latest episode, which was entitled “Initial Coin Offering.”
The series, whose show opening includes a shot of US bitcoin exchange Coinbase in the corporate landscape, is all in, with fictional decentralized internet startup Pied Piper opting to pursue an ICO when their original plans for Series B funding go south.
The cryptocurrency community was abuzz about the new episode on social media, including Reddit where members mostly thought the episode did the market justice and provided “great exposure.”
Ratings for Season 5 of Silicon Valley have reportedly dropped versus Season 4, at least in the 18-49 demographic. But the two weakest episodes for that demo were earlier in the season and since then the numbers are gaining momentum, as evidenced by HBO’s decision to renew the series for a sixth season.
The Fictional Pied Piper ICO
The storyline is ripe with cryptocurrency references and also features a seemingly premature purchase of a Tesla by one of the engineers.
Main character Bertram Gilfoyle, meanwhile, presents the ICO as a “win win” because the management team doesn’t have to dilute control with venture capitalists and despite any “cryptocurrency volatility.” Gilfoyle, who is Pied Piper’s chief systems architect, has been mining digital currencies since 2009 when bitcoin emerged, a scene he described as “underground” and “only true believers.”
Gilfoyle introduces the Pied Piper Coin, which was his idea, in a televised interview with Bloomberg Tech, where host Emily Chang makes a cameo.
“What attracted me was the passage an ICO offers across the river sticks of venture capital. What attracted me was an informed disdain for traditional fiat currency, its paper stained with the greasy fingerprints of your banks and your mints.” said Gilfoyle to Bloomberg’s Chang in the episode.
“What attracted me was cryptocurrencies’ fundamental anonymity that shields private transactions from the peering green eyes of the all-knowing governmental overlords,” he added.
If the show’s characterization seems emblematic of the cryptocurrency market, it’s because they have engaged blockchain consultants for the series.
Meanwhile, Chang pointed out Gilfoyle’s “bleak view of financial institutions that have worked for centuries,” to which the character responded: “Worked, how so?” to end the segment.
As one Reddit member points out, Silicon Valley didn’t back away from some of the risks associated with ICOs, either.
For instance, there’s a scene located at a dumpster with the Pied Piper management team discussing the ICO with a “friend” who advised three dozen startups on token sales. When asked if they worked, the advisor quipped: “It’s not always about money. Sometimes it’s about wisdom.” This advisor lost $1 billion across the deals and physically lost $300 million in digital currencies when the thumbdrive on which the funds were stored was thrown in the trash.
Fictional decentralized internet startup Pied Piper has taken on a life of its own. For instance, there’s a website dedicated to the fake company that sounds a lot like a blockchain startup that in many ways could be a reality, with the exception of promises like “100x profit.”
Pied Piper Coin started trading at $0.07 and must trade for $68 per coin in order to attain the valuation they would have received with the venture capital backing.