Silicon Valley Recap: Putting the Neg in Negotiations

Last year, Silicon Valley ended its first season on a high note, with Richard (Thomas Middleditch) delivering an awe-inspiring speech and helping Pied Piper win Techcrunch’s Disrupt and $50,000 for the company. And while the HBO series inherited a cult following since then, unfortunately, it ‘s been bittersweet since Christopher Evan Welch who plays Peter Gregory, died from complications of lung cancer halfway through filming season 1.

Thus, season 2’s “Sand Hill Shuffle” sends off Welch’s character in a safari accident involving a rhino. No, the rhino didn’t kill him, but there was a guide involved who tried to shoot the rhino. Did he shoot Gregory? No. The shot startled Gregory and the rhino, causing Gregory to run out of the tent, and because he hadn’t run in a long time (or maybe ever), he just. . .died.

Talk about an epic death. And this show follows Game of Thrones.

But even before news of Gregory’s death reached Pied Piper, the startup was seeking capital and allowing their metaphorical dicks to be sucked by firms like Stern Taylor Capital Fund, which courted them at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

If there were ever a will-they-or-won’t-they couple of the show, it’s Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), whose banter is part of the comedy that drives the laughs. At AT&T Park, these two feel out of place, with the mystique of baseball and the World Series not registering with these techies.

“It’s totally lost on me,” says Gilfoyle.

“I don’t give a shit either,” says Dinesh.

Later, when Erlich learns that Gregory is dead and that capital might not be secure, he gets Jared (Zach Woods) to book them in as many funding meetings as possible. The first one is a follow-up with Stern Taylor Capital, in which they tell Richard to come back later when he and the boys have their shit better together. After he leaves the meeting, an angry Richard storms back into the room and tells them they aren’t coming back and that they’ll find funding, but not from Stern Taylor. When they get to their car in the parking lot, Richard and Erlich discover that this company responded to negging, or insulting someone in order to get your sexual desires (Jared’s definition).

Soon, Erlich and Richard go on a negging adventure, in a montage of one after another of Erlich insulting these companies (“Your logo looks like a sideways vagina. I find that racist, don’t you?”). Pied Piper ends up going 5 for 5 with meetings, securing offers from each one, until Richard decides to take a meeting and negs them by calling them fat sluts (they did not respond to this).

Ehrlich takes over as chief neg-gotiator and ends up literally putting his balls on the table in the next meeting (in a scene that’s unfortunately not shown) and apparently crosses a line—but a good one. They get their best offer yet.

Until the new boss Laurie Bream (Suzanne Cryer) comes in with Monica and offers an even better one: $20 million with a $100 million evaluation. The guys are stoked, but later Monica comes back and tells Richard not to take it.

“You’ll never live up to this evaluation,” she says. “You want to start with a realistic evaluation.”

After discussing this with an acquaintance at Stern Taylor Capital, Richard makes the decision to negotiate down. Then, at Gregory’s funeral, Richard sees Laurie and Monica and tells Laurie he’ll take the offer, but they need to renegotiate the terms. It needs to be lower and more realistic. $10 million for a $50 million evaluation. Laurie says their lawyer will call his lawyer.

The funeral of Peter Gregory ends with a eulogy from Gavin Belson (Matt Ross), who in a previous scene at Nucleus’ headquarters talks about needing to crush Pied Piper. Gavin and Peter had been friends and based on his heartfelt speech, Richard suddenly sees Gavin as human. Until he reads his incoming text message: Gavin is suing Pied Piper for stealing their idea.

What did you think of “Sand Hill Shuffle”? Are you going to try negging in your next job interview?

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