When Bravo put out a preview of their upcoming series, Start-Ups: Silicon Valley, one comment about it on Gizmodo said that Asians apparently don’t exist in the Hollywood version of Silicon Valley. As a Silicon Valley resident who watched the preview, I was left thinking “whitewashed!” But after more thought, I realized that in a sad way, the show actually did portray a certain harsh reality.
To be sure, Silicon Valley is a heavily Asian place. It contains a number of cities like Fremont, Milpitas, and Cupertino with Asian majorities, and San Francisco itself is 33% Asian American. I live and work in an Asian ethnoburb in Silicon Valley. At my job, if an Indian woman came to work wearing a sari, no one would even notice because South Asians feel comfortable enough there to wear South Asian clothing. You don’t see any of that diversity in the preview and definitely not in the cast.
I occasionally evaluate start-up technology and products for my department and my company’s venture capital arm. I have to say that these folks in the preview seem a lot different from the start-up people that I have dealt with!
You might be wondering why I think this show does in part reflect reality. Vivek Wadha has noted that at a notable tech award ceremony he attended in Silicon Valley, the winning entrepreneurs were overwhelmingly white. He also mentioned that when he was starting a company, other Indian entrepreneurs advised him to have a white “front man” to pitch his company to venture capitalists. It’s not surprising that Indian Americans in the Valley have set up their own entrepreneurial networks like The Indus Entrepreneurs.
So will I watch it? I probably will, less for the reality part and more for the amusing buzzword bingo and start-up cliches that go on. For some other takes on this show, check out Gizmodo, All Things Digital, and CNN. Start-Ups: Silicon Valley premieres November 5 on Bravo TV.