This article was published on April 7, 2012

Randi Zuckerberg defends ‘Silicon Valley’ reality show, says it’s about humanizing technology

Randi Zuckerberg defends ‘Silicon Valley’ reality show, says it’s about humanizing technology
Matthew Panzarino
Story by

Matthew Panzarino

Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter. Matthew Panzarino was Managing Editor at TNW. He's no longer with the company, but you can follow him on Twitter.

Over the last week a lot of discussion has sparked up about the new Bravo reality TV show being filmed entitled Silicon Valley. Our own Hermione Way is involved with the project, which looks like it’s already become a polarizing topic.

Some journalists, like Sarah Lacy at Pando Daily, have spoken out against the program. Lacey, who has not seen anything of the show beyond the previews, took exception to the clip’s depiction of ‘people drinking and shirtless in clubs’, saying “It is quite literally making us look like “The Jersey Shore,” only without the tans. Anyone who has spent a day here knows just how bastardized that is. It’s ridiculous really.”

She went on to ask of Randi Zuckerberg, Executive Producer of the show and sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “How on earth can [she] — who is one of the closest people in the world to this generation’s best tech entrepreneur — pretend that preview is an accurate depiction of the Valley?”

Now, Zuckerberg has taken to her Facebook page to defend her involvement in the show, saying that she hopes to lend the project, which was started up without involvement from her, a feeling of veracity. She says that a show like this is a good way to help the mainstream media tap into and represent the entrepreneurial spirit of startups in a positive way.

Zuckerberg confirms that she has taken on the Executive Producer’s role, saying that it is effectively letting her act as an advisor would in the early stages of a startup. ” By signing on,” Zuckerberg says, “I hope to bring a lot of value by advising on how to best capture the spirit of technology and entrepreneurship throughout production.”

“I respect that the people cast in this show are all trying to make something of themselves,” she goes on, pointing out that these are people worth highlighting. “Some are newcomers to Silicon Valley. Some were anonymous cogs within bigger companies who chose to leave and create their own path.”

“While you may not know them yet and while they may not be involved with Pinterest, AirBnB, Dropbox, Square or one of the other hot companies of the moment,” says Zuckerberg, discussing the inclusion of a handful of tech industry folks like Hermione, Kim Taylor, the Account Director at Ampush Media, Dwight Crow, founder of a Y Combinator startup and Hermione’s brother Ben Way of Rainmakers, “It certainly doesn’t make their journey any less authentic or worth following.”

Zuckerberg says out that the show’s mission  is to make accessible and ‘humanize’ the tech community for the huge audience that watches networks like Bravo, but may not know exactly what entrepreneurs do in the valley. “Part of our mission is to make accessible and to humanize the increasingly important tech community for the average consumer who does not speak in 1s and 0s.”

She goes on to say that it will share some of the characteristics of what we’ve come to expect from most reality television programs:

Will there be drama? Of course! Silicon Valley is full of exciting drama. Will there be conflict? Of course! Entrepreneurs face conflict daily. Will we showcase every single painstaking detail of startup life?  Of course not. This is reality TV, not a documentary. The show isn’t meant to represent all of Silicon Valley, but to authentically follow the lives of a few young people trying to blaze their own trails.

Zuckerberg says that she welcomes constructive discussion about the program as it moves forward, so that her production company R to Z “can make a show that celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of this community, while also making compelling TV for Bravo’s audience.”

As the show makes its way to the air, we’ll all be able to see just how well it matches up with our own ‘vision’ of what ‘silicon valley’ and the technology industry represents for the young people involved. We’re witholding judgement until we’ve watched the show but hope that Zuckerberg’s influence will be a positive one, bringing a rational, insightful feel to the narrative.

While it will likely never match up with the day-to-day reality of startups, it may help pull back the curtain a bit for those wondering just how things get done in the area we call silicon valley. Whether it’s a success or a massive disaster, it will probably still be interesting to watch.

H/t Chad Catacchio

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