When HBO rolled out "Silicon Valley" -- its mockumentary poking fun at high tech -- this spring, naturally Silicon Valley viewers checked it out.

Initially, its namesake's geeks and nerds -- who spend their days coding, developing and hacking -- weren't so sure it was funny.

"Most startups are a soap opera, but not that kind of soap opera," said Tesla CEO Elon Musk, one of the valley's most charismatic billionaires, after the premiere.

But many were amused enough by the warped story to keep watching, and soon some of the big names in Silicon Valley were singing its praises around the region's virtual water coolers.

There were even cameos from locals, including Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt. And for a day, entrepreneur-investor Marc Andreeson tweeted lines from the show, such as "I truly believe we can only achieve greatness ... if first, we achieve goodness."

The final episode of Season 1 was telecast June 8, and "Silicon Valley" has been renewed for a second season -- good news for techies, some of whom gather en masse to watch imagined versions of themselves awkwardly talk to women, seek venture capital and try to launch a startup called Pied Piper, complete with its own mock website.

Creator Mike Judge ("Beavis and Butt-Head") who, as the show's executive producer, writer and director, collaborates with Alec Berg, taps into his own experience decades ago as a Silicon Valley engineer to nail the authenticity of this funny and sometimes painfully real show.


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"I live it every week," said Silicon Valley venture capitalist Barry Schuler, former CEO of America Online. "We cannot take ourselves too seriously."

Schuler said the socially awkward characters -- who wince and blink nervously, get bullied by adolescents, have trouble talking with the opposite sex and taunt each other clumsily -- are a fair parody of the tech community. "We don't fit into normal social circles -- you know what I mean?" he added. "What we do is clearly done by a self-selecting group of people who like to sit in dark rooms and write code and make the world a better place."

Much of the first season was tied to reality. A socially awkward coder, played by Thomas Middleditch, turned down a $10 million acquisition offer and, instead, took $200,000 in seed money to launch his own disruptive startup, a file compressor service. Then he vomited.

While the angst, if any, wasn't displayed publicly when CEOs at firms Snapchat, FireEye and Groupon turned down more than $1 billion offers in recent years, it's reasonable to suspect someone's stomach must have been churning. "That was such a send-up on what happens when big guys start bidding, really inside baseball," said Schuler.

Former stand-up comic Middleditch said he possessed enough inner geek to pull off an authentic version of the introverted Richard, a brilliant code writer prone to panic attacks.

"There isn't a huge difference between me and the character," said the Canadian-born actor. "I'm like normally nowadays a pretty chill guy, but I've definitely had my bouts of not being the coolest kid on the block, not being able to talk to certain people (and being deeply) into various nerdy things."

An avid gamer, Middleditch said it was gratifying to be appreciated in the birthplace of Google, Apple and Facebook. "As much as we want to appeal to everyone, I think we would consider it a fail if we alienated Silicon Valley," he said.

About 1.7 million viewers tuned in each week, according to Nielsen ratings, including many from this innovative and wealthy tech center.

"I have this interesting love-hate relationship with the show, because I watch television to escape from my everyday life, and this is like watching my everyday life," said Jen Donahoe, who works at the Mountain View messaging-app firm Tango. "But it's slightly over the top, and I do say slightly. We are ridiculous here. We are throwing crazy money at 20-somethings because they can write code. But these guys are big kids. They're brilliant and geniuses, but they play foosball and make fart jokes."

Devon Crews, head of marketing for the Santa Clara-based Citrix Startup Accelerator, which invests in early-stage companies, didn't miss watching a single episode. He said other entrepreneurs in the accelerator were watching, too. "Some love it. Some love to hate it," he said, "but everyone agrees that it is LOL funny."

The show also attracted far-flung Silicon Valley wannabes around the world who tweet their favorite lines while watching. "All those geeky acts, in a place that is like a wonderland for me, Silicon Valley, is just the thing I want to watch in a comedy," said computer scientist Arash Pourhabibi Zarandi via email from Shiraz, Iran.