If you're a regular reader of our blog or Mary's Forbes contributions, you know that we here are Traklight are fans of the show Silicon Valley. A show about a tech company has a ring of the familiar, and said company's early stage struggles and failures to plan are certainly going to pique our interest as advocates of mitigating business risk. More than that, it's just a funny show that can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life (but not those of all ages - please, make sure the kids are in bed before you tune in). So in discussing the developments in recent episodes, we had a thought: what if the protagonist, Richard Hendriks, used our Business Risk Assessment?
For the purposes of this exercise, I can only go off what was expressly stated in the show, with some inference given what viewers know of Richard Hendriks the character in eleven episodes. I'm also basing this off the earliest stages of Pied Piper that we see in the show, so there's no spoilers past season one if you're behind. If you're unfamiliar with Silicon Valley, none of this will likely make sense, and your time might be better spent catching up on the show, then coming back to this post. Go ahead - I can wait.
If we look back to the pilot episode, Richard was working on Pied Piper while he was working at Hooli. It doesn't appear that he was working on it during company time or with company resources, so he should be in the clear in that regard. However, he made what would end up being a costly mistake when he showed an early version of the software to two "bro-grammers" he was working with. While they were unimpressed with the product as a music service, they were impressed with the lossless compression. They told two friends, who told two friends, until the news made its way to Hooli's CEO.
At the outset, Pied Piper was Richard's pet project. He seems to have had only a faint notion of how it might one day become a business. This is a man who tried to deposit a check made out to a business that didn't exist, so it's reasonable to assume that planning wasn't at the front of his mind. His future coworkers/friends/enemies were still working on their own apps. The only obligation he had was to Erlich, who owns equity in all of the startups using his "incubator." Apart form that, he has steered clear of any possible cofounder entanglements.
As far as planning, Richard seems to have only thought of creating a product and putting it out to try and make revenue. He had to bring in Jared in order to create a business plan for him, and he needed Erlich to make it through his meeting with Peter Gregory. He's not an entrepreneur in the strictest sense; he's a programmer thrust in that role based on the product of his genius.
Of course, it's easy to sit back and say what Richard and the rest of the Pied Piper team should or shouldn't have done. Don't hire a graffiti artist to do your logo. Don't hire a Adderall-fueled teenager as a contractor. Avoid driverless cars that end up getting you shipped to the middle of the ocean. But that's missing the point of the show. The humor is in these somewhat earnest mistakes. But just because mistakes are funny on Silicon Valley doesn't mean they'll be funny when they happen to you.