The best sight gag in Silicon Valley’s young fourth season is the transformation that Dinesh Chugtai — heretofore lovably dressed like the friends I had in fifth grade — makes into a CEO. His swoopy hair and blazer over a plain purple T-shirt scream, “I Am a Thought Leader.” While the get-up isn’t actually what technology CEO’s wear anymore, the caricature is, to borrow a phrase he utters about user retention on Piper Chat, so sticky it’s pornographic.
In the world of Silicon Valley, one where former CEO and brilliant programmer Richard Hendricks had to fight to be the CEO and was predictably poor at it, Dinesh’s turn as leader was a welcome one for viewers made to root for Mike Judge’s misfits.
“You’re killing us out there. Don’t also sabotage us in here, too,” Dinesh, played by Kumail Nanjiani, lays out to Richard early in the second episode. “Pied Piper is a video chat company. Get your head around that.”
It’s one of the most dramatic moments in the series, and it was a sign that Dinesh was ready to lead.
Early on, Dinesh actually seems like he’d be good at the job if he walked out of a television. Forbes, as good a resource as any when it comes to CEO things, reports that the three qualities any successful CEO needs to possess are:
Dinesh has exhibited those characteristics time and time again in the series. He developed the video chat program, memorably improving its resolution through a series of conversations with a woman whose appearance came into focus as the technology got better (neither liked the way each other looked in HD.)
And in Sunday night’s Episode 2, he’s dramatically pitching Piper Chat to venture capital firms and being interviewed by Emily Chang. He rightfully points out that Richard — who seems obsessed with big, revolutionary ideas that won’t make money in the near-term — is focusing on something that doesn’t matter to the user: improving image quality slightly.
It seems that Dinesh can see the full-screen, but Richard’s too busy looking at the pixels. It’s a symptom of Richard’s waning interest in video chat. He’s already thinking about his next move, which looks like it’ll combine all the computer power of every cell phone in the world into a new internet.
But by the end of Episode 2, it washes out that Dinesh’s broad view allowed him to overlook a critical legal detail, and his ambition for Piper Chat’s success caused him to ignore the error once he spotted it. So yeah, Dinesh sabotaged the company, and in the interconnected world of Silicon Valley, a Hooli takeover bid (unrelated but not totally) came at the perfect time. Minutes after he was sick with stress in the bathtub, Dinesh was presented with an exit strategy.
This was a good early-season story arc, and while it doesn’t last, it’ll remain one of the highlights.
Dinesh for CEO is what I’m saying. Give him a spin-off. Even if it predictably blew up in his face, it’d be wonderful to see him run the next company permanently.
He managed to unload the poisoned Piper Chat, setting up the team to (probably) focus on Richard’s new internet project for the rest of the season. Which means he’s no longer CEO, but it was a good run.
It’ll be fine, Dinesh. Maybe keep the hair though.
Silicon Valley airs on HBO Sundays at 10 p.m. Eastern.