HBO’s acclaimed series Silicon Valley recently returned for its fifth season, and the struggles to build a startup — Pied Piper — into a billion dollar corporation are all too real at times. The events that transpire in the show are, of course, hyperbolized for entertainment, but the underlying decisions and assumptions made by character Richard Hendricks and his team can hold surprisingly valuable lessons for those willing to look for them.
Richard’s latest gaffe comes when Pied Piper tries to hire 15 new engineers. Instead of remaining active throughout the hiring process, Richard delegates the task to his lead engineers who can’t agree on anything. The pair’s absurd and unnecessary hiring standards prolong the process to such a degree that the CEO of competitor company Hooli swoops in to hire every one of Pied Piper’s candidates, only to hamstring the company’s ability to scale and go to market. The lack of viable candidates leads Richard down a path of questionable business decisions that go about as poorly as you would expect.
This is oddly reminiscent of a book I recently read, The CEO Tightrope, written by Joel Trammell, which examines the many aspects of operating a company as chief executive.