'Silicon Valley' recap, episode 3: 'Articles of Incorporation'

ITworld's Melissa Shaw watched episode 3 of "Silicon Valley" so you don't have to.

Credit: HBO

When we last left Palo Alto: Richard learned that while writing a game-changing compression algorithm may be relatively easy, starting a business is simultaneously boring, cutthroat, and hard. He ends up trading business-minded former hooli exec Jared for his best friend, Big Head, whom hooli "steals" away. It'll be good for Richard to have a friend on the inside, as the VP of Spite notes that hooli is reserve-engineering Richard's prize algorithm in a bid to beat him to market.

Credit: HBO
T-shirts: The heart of the Silicon Valley economy

Richard makes his first official purchase as CEO of Pied Piper: T-shirts, the logo of which Gilfoyle and Dinesh compare to something we can't mention here. Erlich chimes in that it looks like the logo of an "Irish pornography company." Doesn't Richard look super creepy when he smiles? Anyway, the scene boils down to the fact that they can't deposit their initial VC funding check from Peter Gregory because they're not incorporated. Jared notes they can't incorporate in California because a sprinkler company currently owns the name.

Credit: HBO
The first deal is the hardest

Everyone hates the name Pied Piper and wants it changed, except for Richard, who heads off to negotiate it away from the CEO of Pied Piper Irrigation Systems, Arnold Garris. Garris assumes Richard has Asperger's (let's face it, he may not be wrong) and also longs for the golden age of printed pornography. With a handshake, he agrees to sell the Pied Piper name to Richard for $1,000.

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Tech journalism is ready for its close-up

Richard calls his colleagues and shares the news, which prompts Erlich to make the tech media rounds announcing the formation of Pied Piper. The show uses this opportunity to name drop Kara Swisher, Re/code, and TechCrunch, which makes everyone in between the coasts wonder, "Huh?" Garris, an irrigation farmer who apparently keeps up with the buzz on Re/code, is mad because he thinks Richard runs a billion-dollar company and swindled him on the cheap. He demands $250,000 for the name.

Credit: HBO
More whiteboard gags, please

Richard frets, which we think is approximately 90 percent of the stage direction on this show. Gilfoyle, Jared, and Dinesh brainstorm new names for the algorithm-compression company in what's the funniest scene of the episode due to the ideas on the whiteboard. Our fave: "It's Wane-ing Men." Honorable mentions: "Make It Wane," "Shrivel," "Tiny Dancer," and "The Wee Machine."

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Internships really do provide valuable business experience

Richard grows a pair, calls Garris, and demands he honor the handshake deal. Garris shows up on Richard's doorstep looking for a fight; the Pied Piperians respond thusly, sending a tiny intern to face Garris alone. Props to Dinesh for grabbing a cricket bat, that's a solid defensive choice.

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Brandtasia

Erlich responds to the name problem by eating a bag of mushrooms and going on a vision quest to think up a new one. The only funny thing about it is the visuals of his trip, which resemble a tech-logo screensaver gone awry. Although it looks like Erlich is channeling his inner Jim Morrison in the desert, he's actually tripping in a gas station bathroom because he got stuck in traffic on the way to the desert.

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He does run a lawn care company, so it makes sense

Realizing he wasn't being swindled by a billion-dollar tech guru but rather asked to deal with an unimpressive start-up run by, you know, Richard, Garris decides to honor the original $1,000 handshake deal for the name. He notes the incubator "reminds me of when I started Pied Piper in my garage." Did any business in Silicon Valley not originate in a garage?

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Evil oozes down from the north like maple syrup

This week's two subplots failed to deliver. An illegal alien is working at Pied Piper. Who do you think it is? Dinesh, right? Wrong! It's Gilfoyle! He's Canadian! Ha, ha, ha ... meh. Also, Peter Gregory interacts with a world he's never experienced: Burger King. He spends many, many, many minutes talking -- haltingly and strangely -- about the food, then arrives at some butterfly-effect-style hypothesis about sesame seeds and crop futures that will eventually land him $68 million. The joke was long, labored, and unfunny to us, but that's why he makes $68 million and we're writing recaps.