…and back again cuz television, y’know?
by Tim Moynihan
When SILICON VALLEY is at its best, it rings true. The characters, the plot lines, and the dialogue are ridiculous and realistic all at once. You couldn’t make this stuff up, and thanks to the absurdity of tech culture, the show’s writers often don’t need to.
In comparison, the plot twists in the past year of Dan Lyons’ life seem far-fetched. It’s as if Pied Piper could compress time: Lyons’ year has contained about a decade’s worth of drama. He went from a marketing job to a screenwriting gig back to a marketing job to an editorial stint to having no full-time job. He lived on two coasts, landed a book deal, had his body rebel against him, and elicited the ire of e-detractors. He helped write season two of Silicon Valley, and then he learned he won’t be back for season three.
About a year ago, Lyons was simply a former journalist who had jumped the fence. Since the late 1990s, he’d been an editor at Forbes, Newsweek, and ReadWriteWeb. He’d also authored a few books and written an unfilmed tech sitcom called iCON. And perhaps most famously, he was the once-anonymous writer who created the blog Fake Steve Jobs.
“It was fun for a while,” Lyons says. “It wasn’t a very well-kept secret. The only time it got to be a job was after [I was outed]. Then I was able to sell ads, which I could never do before. And I had a deal with Forbes for one year. I felt I had to deliver a certain amount of traffic… Trying to make it into a business wasn’t as fun as when it was just a practical joke.”
Lyons stopped working on the blog in 2011, when Steve Jobs took medical leave from Apple due to his failing health. Two years later, he left journalism entirely to take a job as a copywriter at HubSpot, a Boston-based company that makes software for marketing teams. It was a calculated jump: After writing about tech for so long, he wanted to experience the industry from the inside.
Then last spring, that unfilmed sitcom from 2010 paid off. Lyons was friendly with Silicon Valley executive producer Alec Berg, who’d read the scripts for iCON. The very first episode of Silicon Valley hadn’t even aired yet, but Berg asked if Lyons would help write the second season—if therewas one. After three episodes aired in the first season, HBO renewed the show, and Lyons cut a deal with HubSpot to head west for 14 weeks.