Writer, director, and producer Mike Judge has a talent for bringing an almost anthropological understanding to his subjects, from the vacuous teenage boys of Beavis and Butt-Head to the disaffected cubicle dwellers of Office Space to the proud Texans in King of the Hill. With Silicon Valley, now in its sixth and final season on HBO, he has turned his gaze to twentysomething startup engineers navigating the world-building narcissism of Big Tech. A former engineer himself, Judge somehow finds the real players of Silicon Valley—despite it all—rather decent.
Season 5 of Silicon Valley ended on an optimistic note, with the show’s protagonists walking into this huge, amazing new office for their suddenly successful company. After years of letting viewers watch the team flail, why did you decide to conclude the season this way? I was in a coffee shop recently, and [the barista] recognized my name on my credit card and asked what I’m going to do now that Silicon Valley is done. I said, “No, there’s another season.” I guess because last season was so positive, he thought that was the end of the run. We had gotten a little fatigued with always beating these characters up. They’re fun to watch, and you care about them when they’re like the Bad News Bears. But as we were getting toward the end of the run, we thought, Let’s just see what it’s like to take them to the next level.
What originally drew you to Silicon Valley as a topic for parody? My interest started in the months leading up to the dotcom bust in 2000, when there was this frenzy of [digital entertainment companies] trying to sign people to animation deals. Companies like Icebox and Z.com were putting tons of money into it—and they had sort of lost their minds. I was going to these meetings where people were saying, “In two years, you will not own a television.” Even I knew, from my engineering days, that all the stuff they were talking about was technically a lot further away. I saw how absurd it all was and thought about doing something with it. It just took me a long time to get around to it.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Seeing and Believing
Manipulated images are rampant, and problematic. Adobe, the photo-editing forebearer, has a solution.
When 55,000 People Find One Common Voice
At Purdue University, persistence and innovation lead to branding success
Donna Langley – Know When to Hold 'Em
Universal Pictures’ Donna Langley acted fast to save the studio’s tentpole films. But, as she explains, the business was changing anyway.
Amazon Unpacked A-Z
It doesn’t matter that Jeff Bezos has stepped down: No industry is safe from the company’s relentless ambition. A complete guide to Amazon’s staggeringly large and ever-mutating domain, most of which you can’t even see.
We're in Uncharted Territory
Nobody said it would be easy.
Big Tech Won't Save Us
Societal problems only seem to get worse when Silicon Valley puts its mind to fixing them. But there is a glimmer of hope.
Depop – Young and Restless
The clothing-resale platform Depop has become both a style and social hub for Gen Z. CEO Maria Raga explains how.
Fast Company's Impact Council presents a blueprint for change
Rethinking the power of nutrition
KATE FARMS' INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO NUTRITION OFFERS A NEW OPTION FOR PEOPLE WITH HEALTH CONDITIONS OR ON A WELLNESS JOURNEY
The power of play as a teaching tool
CATERPILLAR’S LIFE-SIZE HOT WHEELS RACE TRACK SHOWCASES THE VALUE OF STEM EDUCATION AND THE LATEST IN CAT MACHINE INNOVATION