Silicon Valley: Daily Active Users
June 20, 2016 9:01 AM - Season 3, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Pied Piper struggles to increase its Daily Active Users, as the platform is too confusing for regular, non-engineer users. Meanwhile, back at Hooli, Gavin Belson uses some inside-PP information to weasel (possum?) his way back into his old job.
posted by joan cusack the second (36 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Music played over the closing was by Tinariwen from Mali, a long, long way from Bangladesh.
posted by morganw at 9:27 AM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


This episode got kinda dark. But I'm glad they are having more realistic problems now. Also I was at first annoyed that they made the one black lady ever on this show be the "confused regular person," but then Bernice got a little better. They should just hire her for customer support & outreach.
posted by dame at 9:32 AM on June 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


I would watch a supercut of Gavin and his animal props from board meetings.
posted by gladly at 9:51 AM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Pipey, the Pied Piper piper!!

I love all the animal stuff and the elephant was very well done.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:55 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Action Jack is somehow going to be the Little Bad and the Big Bad.
posted by Etrigan at 10:37 AM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's nothing, but I'm a little bit worried that Dinesh is going to try to go rogue with the video chat app. I'm unclear why Richard was totally uninterested in going with the video chat app idea, and also why no one on the team tried to market the box itself to some other company who didn't want them to sign away proprietary rights. Wouldn't either option give them more cash flow?
posted by joan cusack the second at 10:50 AM on June 20, 2016


I don't understand how the answer to "our UX is confusing to people" isn't to hire a UX team, but then I'm not an engineer.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:28 PM on June 20, 2016 [11 favorites]


I keep holding out for UX as well. I kept shouting at the telly "bring in the usability tests!"
posted by like_neon at 1:51 PM on June 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yeah this Pied Piper problem seems very manufactured. There's no reason they can't design the app so that people don't HAVE to understand neural nets or whatever. Your files are just, like, there. Cool. Or market it more to techies, of which there must be more than 20,000 in the entire world.

Still, I love the emotional range of this show. This wasn't a very funny episode, but it was still very good on an emotional level.
posted by permiechickie at 4:08 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I like how the people who are initially portrayed as idiots, when actually given the information by somebody who patiently explains it to them, completely get the platform, how it works, and why you'd use it, and are on board. They're not stupid- they're just not being communicated to effectively. (And that, of course, is a large portion of the purpose of the UI/UX design.)
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:38 PM on June 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


They have to hire Bernice. It's a perfect solution just hanging out there!

This episode felt like a drift toward Big Bang Theory geeksploitation, nothing much seems to be sticking from week to week.
posted by rhizome at 5:41 PM on June 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Tables is terrible. Who cuts a grapefruit like that?
posted by unliteral at 5:57 PM on June 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nobody noticed the Lying Cat/Gilfoyle reference?

They really threw a lot of stuff into this episode where the whole consequence of Richard's subjective decisions appeared almost as a background blur.

So Pipie was the inevitable delight.
posted by arzakh at 6:09 PM on June 20, 2016


JARED NO
posted by en forme de poire at 8:46 PM on June 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


I really want a "Shoes will be taken off" sign but I'm thinking most of my visitors will not get the reference and just think it's a additional proof of my anal retentiveness for cleanliness.
posted by like_neon at 12:17 AM on June 21, 2016


That was indeed a delicious detail.
posted by rhizome at 12:18 AM on June 21, 2016


Gavin's tryhard security pal reminds me of Proctor from Police Academy, who I always found hilarious.

I think it's interesting in the context of the show that Jack Barker had to introduce himself to the Hooli board.

There should have been more not-Richard in the Pipey demo part.

JARED YES because that shit worked for Reddit and OKCupid, among many others I'm sure.
posted by rhizome at 12:38 AM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I watched the screen, saw the animation, whispered "oh god, pipey".... aaaand then, a split-second after, they announced his name as "pipey" thus confirming my nightmare ... a most horrible coincidence....
posted by alchemist at 1:59 AM on June 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


It looks like you want to compress some data!
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:22 AM on June 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love Gavin's tryhard security pal so much! What a great character, and you KNOW every major executive in the Valley has a few people in the security detail whose loyalty is more bodyguardlike than their title or job description would imply.

Definitely appreciated Gilfoyle as Lying Cat and was disappointed but not surprised that he was foiled at the end because he wanted to believe the numbers just as much as everyone else.

I've been on both sides of those one-way windows in usability studies and loved imagining the poor programmers on the other side yelling as I fucked up using their products. Because oh man when the button is RIGHT THERE JUST LOOK IT'S RED it's soooo hard not to pull a Richard and barge in there and take the whiteboard.
posted by town of cats at 1:39 PM on June 21, 2016


I thought this was a strange penultimate episode. The first two seasons had really strong two part finales with a satisfying buildup-payoff structure, but this season has resisted neat narrative arcs. The skunkworks episode was really good, and I liked the subversion of the undercover mission trope, but it also sabotaged a plot that could've carried the rest of the season. Instead there's been a meandering, sitcomy structure, and after this weeks episode I can't help but feel that the finale will be anticlimactic compared to the previous seasons'.
posted by pomomo at 2:03 PM on June 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


My one problem with the usability focus group scene was that it pulled the curtain back a little too much on what 'middle out with p2p' is supposed to be and do, to the point where I no longer credit it with any feasibility whatsoever. Which isn't the biggest deal, I can suspend disbelief, but I did like the show better when the tech wasn't basically Unobtainium.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:34 PM on June 21, 2016


I wouldn't mind if the eventual series finale has the Pied Piper neural net becoming self aware and enslaving/exterminating humanity.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:43 PM on June 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


I was rather annoyed they used a focus group to try and uncover problems with the app. To be fair, it's very common for companies to confuse focus groups and usability testing, but not in Silicon Valley. If the writers are doing all this research into startups they should have found out that there is a difference between the two and companies know this. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Ebay etc. all have huge UX/user research teams and I'm pretty sure they would all sneer at the suggestion of using a focus group in this situation. I certainly did. No wonder they got useless "insights" like "I don't like any of it".
posted by like_neon at 1:43 AM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I really want a "Shoes will be taken off" sign but I'm thinking most of my visitors will not get the reference and just think it's a additional proof of my anal retentiveness for cleanliness.

I really want a break-the-mold episode where we just follow Laurie around with whatever her life is life from day to day, with a brief appearance from that nitwit startup team that takes up too much of her time, and the camera occasionally panning over Monica sitting at her desk slugging vodka.
posted by psoas at 9:22 AM on June 22, 2016 [16 favorites]


I wonder if Gavin made similar mistakes in dealing with Jack.
posted by drezdn at 11:57 AM on June 22, 2016


Definitely appreciated Gilfoyle as Lying Cat and was disappointed but not surprised that he was foiled at the end because he wanted to believe the numbers just as much as everyone else.

I read that differently: Gilfoyle knows full well that Jared is lying, but is willing to collude with him in this particular lie.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:21 PM on June 22, 2016 [13 favorites]


I was thinking they must have decided to do a focus group and not realistic one-on-one user research because most people have seen that on tv before. And because it's hard to portray the results of 8 different one-hour interviews that succinctly. Maybe they could have done a montage or something.

As a ux-er I was kind of excited to finally see their UX episode but I found it weird and disappointing. I don't like the perpetuation of this idea that ux is this big mysterious difficult uncharted rain forest. Like here are these smart techie guys completely blindsided by this mysterious problem that no one knows how to solve. Ux is not magic! Ugh!
posted by bleep at 6:56 PM on June 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


I mean not that it's unrealistic that a bunch of engineers would ignore ux but it is unrealistic that I think Laurie or Monica wouldn't tell them to hire a ux team.
posted by bleep at 6:58 PM on June 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Tables really put me in the mood to watch ads from Veridian Dynamics.
posted by neilbert at 1:31 PM on June 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


I did not realize until my husband showed me after this episode, that Tables was a direct rip off an ACTUAL FACEBOOK VIDEO from years ago... which makes this episode even more amazing.

I would like to high five the consultants they have working on this show.
posted by groovesquirrel at 11:29 PM on June 23, 2016 [12 favorites]


Pretty much every jaw-dropping moment of insanity or idiocy in this show ends up being an homage to or a note-for-note retelling of an actual event.
posted by Etrigan at 4:07 AM on June 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


A motion-graphics fisking of this series would be an incredible project.
posted by rhizome at 10:33 AM on June 24, 2016


So yesterday we were at a family gathering, sitting at a large table, and my 3 year old son asks "what's a table?" and I started to respond "tables are for a person to sit at..." One day I hope to teach him about chairs too.
posted by noneuclidean at 5:10 AM on June 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I did not realize until my husband showed me after this episode, that Tables was a direct rip off an ACTUAL FACEBOOK VIDEO
That is hilariously fantastic.
posted by unliteral at 5:36 PM on June 26, 2016


Oh man, thanks for the link to the chairs video. That's great.

I agree that this problem seems a bit manufactured, and that Lori would not let them go to market without a UI cleanup and maybe some professionally-written, straightforward website copy.
posted by radioamy at 9:32 AM on June 27, 2016


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