Billionaires, with their stories of opportunities reaped and lost, will help tell the story in the Science Channel series, but the creators said it will not shy away from at least one of the Valley’s dark sides, the treatment of women in tech.
“While Silicon Valley prides itself on disrupting old ways of doing things, it has largely failed to dismantle its barriers to women,” Discovery Channel & Science Channel said in a press release Wednesday about “Silicon Valley: The Untold Story.”
“Women have long been excluded from the valley’s top jobs, even though they’ve been essential to its history.”
Interviews on the show, according to Science Channel, will include Wozniak, known as “Woz,” and Sun Microsystems founder Andreas Maria Maximilian Freiherr von Mauchenheim genannt Bechtolsheim, who goes by Andy.
Bechtolsheim will reminisce about his first meeting with Google co-founders — and billionaires many times over — Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and he’ll explain why he wrote them a $100,000 check before their company was even named. Spoiler: Bechtolsheim told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle in 2009 that when he met Page and Brin in 1998, they were still Stanford University students with an early prototype of their search engine.
Silicon Valley Trailer (1)“I got very excited about the potential of allowing anyone to find any information anytime through this much better form of search compared to what was available at the time,” he told the broadcaster.
Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google parent Alphabet, will help explain “what made Google so much better than other early search engines,” the series’ creators said.
Other Apple-related content will include Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell, “who turned down an offer from his former employee Steve Jobs to become a one-third partner of Apple for $50,000,” the creators said. It remains to be seen what Bushnell will have to say about overseeing Jobs at Atari in the 1970s, when the late Apple co-founder was, according to a 2013 article in The Oregonian, “an unkempt, contemptuous 19-year-old.”
Bushnell, according to the newspaper, saw “something special” in the future CEO of one of the world’s most successful tech firms, but said Jobs had offended some Atari colleagues so deeply that Bushnell told him to work at night “when one else was around.”
Also interviewed for the series were Y-Combinator founders Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston, who provided “rare access to their prestigious boot camp for entrepreneurs,” as well as Kyle Vogt, whose tiny self-driving car startup Cruise was bought by General Motors for $1 billion in 2016, and Stanford University historian Leslie Berlin.
“Silicon Valley has shaped the world we live in today like no other place,” Marc Etkind, general manager of Science Channel, said before lapsing, appropriately, into Valley-speak.
“It is a story about science, technology and invention — and how all the right ingredients came together to create a game-changing atmosphere of unparalleled innovation.”
And of course, no exploration of Silicon Valley would be complete without reference to “secret sauce,” the ingredients of which, according to the series’ creators, will be detailed.
“Silicon Valley: The Untold Story” premieres with the three episodes running consecutively on Monday, March 19 at 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.