Mike Judge on (the lack of) sex in Silicon Valley

Mike Judge on sex, drugs in Silicon Valley
Mike Judge on sex, drugs in Silicon Valley

Mike Judge is the co-creator of HBO hit show Silicon Valley, a comedy exploring the culture of the tech industry.

But long before creating shows like Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, Judge was an engineer in Silicon Valley. He sat down with CNNMoney to talk the absurdities of the exploding tech community.

CNNMoney: Mike, what's funny about Silicon Valley?

Judge: We're at this kind of absurd time in history where people who are 24 are suddenly worth $10 billion in a year and a half. I don't think there's ever been a time in history like that.

What's kind of funny is the types of people who are becoming the richest people in the world are so different than the types of people who became the richest people in the world 100 years ago -- that Carnegie, Rockefeller type. Now you've got the Paul Allens and Mark Zuckerbergs, and it just seems kind of perfect for comedy. There's just so many absurd things happening all the time.

Like what?

They have billions, so they can go build their own nuclear submarine on a private island, but they don't want to drive a flashy car. It's all understated. Their houses aren't ostentatious. It ends up actually kind of looking drab up there. I think it's kind of leftover hippie culture that still prevails.

We've had things happen where we put something in the show that we made up, and then it really happens, in between the time we did it and when the show comes out.

There was a thing in the pilot that I wasn't the biggest fan of called "nip alert," and it was supposed to be a stupid app. We're making fun of the tech industry for being kind of tone deaf and misogynistic, and there's never any women around. And then at TechCrunch Disrupt -- which was after we shot the pilot but before [it] aired -- these guys in the hackathon had this thing called "tit stare" that got into the news because it was just so obnoxious.

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Why go back to Silicon Valley now?

It had been so long since I had been an engineer, I was just curious to see what it's like now. I feel like it's the same personality types, it's just a different landscape.

One of the things I discovered was just how many people are getting rich very quickly, and it happened since we started doing the show.

Mike Judge Q & A_00002522
"I just wonder how anybody gets laid up there, if you can say this on CNN," says Mike Judge.

I met with a guy, I won't say who, but he was telling me that Tinder was just starting. It was [about] two years ago [when] we were in the early stages of writing the pilot, and he was telling me Tinder was, I don't know, a few thousand users. And by the time we were shooting the show, they were rich.

Let's talk about drugs. What role do you think drugs play in Silicon Valley?

There's always been a weird kind of drug culture to Silicon Valley. I feel like the programmer types had to have something to show they're not nerds. Back [when I was there] it was, "Oh, I race motorcycles, I go to Dead concerts, I do drugs." It didn't seem to really change their personalities too much, but, now that's kind of Burning Man and that sort of thing.

[But] people [in Silicon Valley] always seem to not quite know how to enjoy themselves. When they get successful, it's always a little bit awkward, like, "What do I spend the money on? What do I do? How do I enjoy it?" It doesn't always sit well with them.

What's interesting about sex in Silicon Valley?

I just wonder how anybody gets laid up there, if you can say this on CNN. I go into Google and it seems like it's at least 80% men. You walk around Palo Alto, it seems like it's 80% men, at least. I don't know how guys hook up with a girl up there. I don't understand it. Maybe that's why our show -- there's like no romance of any kind.

A lot of money but no romance?

You'll hear stories about "founder hounders," girls trying to find the rich founders. I think if the women in Hollywood that are gold diggers ever figure out how to make it up there, they're going to have a field day.

From doing the show, what have you learned about greed?

It's interesting. I don't necessarily think Bill Gates, or a lot of these guys, got into it for pure greed. I think they were genuinely interested in computers. Whereas Wall Street, those type of people, I think, are purely in there to get money.

Everyone in Silicon Valley has to be sort of ashamed of any greed. Any capitalism is just shrouded in all this, "We're changing the world, we're helping mankind."

A lot of these people are very competitive, and once they have a company, by God they're going to make it succeed and get as much money out of the economy as possible. [But they] didn't always get into it out of pure greed. I think most of them had an idea, and they wanted to pursue it. So, it's maybe slightly more altruistic than New York.

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