With Gavin Belson out of the picture, “Customer Service” begins oddly tranquil. That is, however, until Russ Hanneman pulls into Richard’s driveway in his signature bright orange McLaren. Hanneman is depicted in his usual egotistical and arrogant manner, as he scolds Richard for taking “our idea” to Gavin Belson. I find it interesting how the moment Gavin Belson leaves Richard’s life, Hanneman finds a way to come right back involved, leaving the viewer to wonder which character is the more deplorable of the two.
However, with Hanneman now unwilling to fund Pied Piper, Richard realizes that there is not a single VC in town that is willing to provide them with capital. If there is one thing that I think this season has done a good job of stressing, it is that in Silicon Valley your name and reputation is of vital importance to be successful. Consequently, Richard decides to pivot with his business plan and opts to generate funding by offering a pre-order subscription to Pied Piper’s data services.
When Richard and Erlich go on the road to pitch this idea to a myriad of companies, however, they are met with consistent rejection. All these companies express stark disappointment and confusion at the fact that Gavin Belson is no longer a part of the company—and are not willing to risk investing in Richard’s vision. I found this scene of rejection to feel a bit repetitive, as it seems as though every season there is a similar montage of Richard and Erlich failing to successfully pitch their ideas.
However, there is one company that expresses intrigue, and that is Fiduciated—an insurance company whose CTO is none other than Dan Melcher. For those that don’t remember, Melcher is the same man who punched Erlich in the face at Tech Crunch Disrupt after finding out that Erlich had sex with his wife. After their meeting, Richard chews Erlich out for always letting his sexual history and inclinations compromise their ability to perform at pitch meetings. Ironically, however, Melcher agrees to vet Pied Piper on the condition that Erlich stays away from his fiancé, Liz Tinsdale (who also works at Fiduciated).
With Erlich out of the picture, that leaves Richard alone to deal with Liz as they run through the logistics of Pied Piper. Richard describes how he “didn’t want to settle” with just having Piped Piper be a video chat platform, which prompts Liz to have an introspective realization of her own. She realizes that in marrying Melcher she would be settling for less than she is worth, and then later proceeds to kiss Richard before they have sex on the conference room floor. Not only was this scene particularly ironic, because it was Richard who just scenes early was scolding Erlich for letting his sex drive interrupt their work, but it was also startling. Throughout the entirety of the series, we have seen Richard have countless awkward encounters with his female counterparts, as he tends to struggle even formulating sentences around women. And thus this scene shows a profound departure from Richard’s typical actions and demeanor. The following day, Melcher’s fiancé is so shameful of her actions that she surprisingly agrees to sponsor Pied Piper, so that she can move on with her life and future marriage.
After being sidelined at Pied Piper, Erlich seeks to find an alternative way to be involved with the Silicon Valley tech scene. And in doing so, he winds up at Bream Hall—the new fund that is started by Laurie and her partner Monica. After Erlich begs them for a job and is quickly rejected by Laurie, Erlich winds up running into Keenan Feldspar, a prominent entrepreneur with a highly demanded Virtual Reality headset. Erlich pleasantly surprises Laurie and Monica when he brings Feldspar into the office of Bream Hall, and he confidently informs them that Bream Hall can fund Feldspar’s new headset, so long as Erlich is sliced in on a part of the action. I found this to be a very interesting plot point, as it foreshadows that Erlich might ultimately end up finding a sustainable and successful future in the valley. Also, the chemistry between Erlich and Monica is very fun to watch, and I am sure we will be seeing more of this as the season progresses.
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