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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

For \'Start-Ups,\' the Final Round

When Silicon Valley heard that Bravo was filming a reality show about tech start-ups, it reacted with the sort of disdain it usually reserves for government inquiries about data privacy policies. The general response to the show seemed along the lines of, “We're serious people here working seriously hard to improve the world, and we resent any depictions that might undermine that.”

The rejection of “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley,” which had as executive producer Randi Zuckerberg, carried over into the ratings. They started small and got smaller. About 700,000 viewers watched the premiere, according to Nielsen data furnished by Bravo, but instead of building from that, the audience sank. The average for the first six shows was only 517 ,000. By this point, with the final episodes ready to be broadcast, Bravo seems to have more or less given up. A spokeswoman for the network declined to comment.

The seventh episode will appear Tuesday at 7 p.m., an hour when any self-respecting tech entrepreneur is still at work and the rest of the world is putting the kids to bed. The eighth and final episode will be shown on Wednesday, which seems to indicate a desire by Bravo to clear the decks and move on. Only one of the cast members has updated his show blog this month. Even the Twitter feed from the $15,000-a-month San Francisco crash pad inhabited by several cast members has been meager.

Another Bravo series, “LOLwork,” depicting the Seattle tech entrepreneur Ben Huh and his silly-cat-photos empire, has not done very well either. But Silicon Valley has not escaped the limelight forever. HBO has reportedly picked up a Mike Judge show called - it must have taken five seconds to come up with this - “Silicon Valley.” According to Deadline.com, “Silicon Valley is set in the high tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success.” I have a feeling Silicon Valley is not going to like this one either.

Last month, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Bravo was planning a new tech reality show, based this time in Manhattan. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Kim Taylor, the “Start-Ups” cast member who created a fashion company called Shonova (slogan: “What to wear everywhere that matters”) just moved to New York. Ms. Taylor didn't confirm whe ther she was talking with the new show, also to be produced by Ms. Zuckerberg, but said this: “I don't think you'll see the unabashed hatred here that you did in Silicon Valley. I think they'll see the bigger picture.”

In any case, she noted, doing Version 2.0 is firmly in the tech tradition.