For comedian Chelsea Handler, one of the most surprising things about Silicon Valley isn't the robots, virtual reality headsets, and other innovative technology.
"You're telling me that people here try to look more nerdy to fit in?" she asks Geoff Yang of Redpoint Ventures in an episode of her new Netflix documentary series, Chelsea Does.
In each episode of Chelsea Does, Handler does a humorous deep dive into a different topic--drugs, racism, and in the series' second episode, Silicon Valley.
Handler, frustrated that she "doesn't know how to transfer files," sets out to learn more about the tech world. In the process, she launches her own app, Gotta Go, which sends you excuses via text message or an automated call in order to get out of awkward situations.
Here's what Handler learned from working in Silicon Valley.
- Find your peers In Handler's case, it's an elementary school classroom in Beverly Hills, where she learns how to code for the first time. "You don't care if I cheat, do you?" Handler asks a fellow classmate. "Because I will."
- Go to the source Although Handler has already inked a deal with movie-streaming site Netflix, she admits she doesn't know what "streaming" is. So she meets with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to learn what the company does.
- Get in the game After her meeting with Hastings, Handler decides that she needs to do more networking to get her app off of the ground. She meets with former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (whom she thanks for "allowing me to be naked on Twitter") and app developer Yeti to begin construction on Gotta Go.
- Train your brain Handler blames her smartphone for her dwindling attention span, so she meets with Tan Le, the founder and CEO of Emotiv, to learn how to focus. A bioinformatics company, Emotiv is the maker of a headset that aims to "optimize your brain fitness" and focus.
- Face the future Handler literally comes face-to-face with the future, in the form of robot BINA48. BINA48 employs voice recognition and dictation software in order to hold a conversation. Unfortunately she doesn't see eye-to-eye with Handler--BINA48 gets bored after Handler asks her about if she thinks about sex and alcohol as a robot. "Did you just roll your eyes at me?" Handler asks. "Well, please try to be more interesting," BINA48 replies.
- Make technology personal Looking for app inspiration, Handler meets with Lisa Lavin, the co-founder of PetChatz, a webcam that allows pet owners to "check in" with their pets while they are away from home. Handler loves the concept, but her dog, Chunk, can't figure it out.
- Leverage your brand Handler makes her first pitch for Gotta Go to VC firm Foundation Capital. She brings her secret weapons with her: Tony Scherba and Michael Godlewski of Yeti, Chunk, and Jesse, an eight-year-old kid from her coding class, because Handler says he's "smarter than me, and knows a lot about tech and a lot about apps."
- Beware of haters Rebecca Black, the singer behind the viral hit "Friday," and fashion blogger Arika Sato explain to Handler how they learned to tune out detractors on the internet.
- Know when to power down Frustrated by her dependence on her phone, Handler goes on a "digital detox retreat," where participants learn how to give one another hugs, express thanks, and "retrain our brains and our bodies to remember what it's like being human."
- Be a disruptor Gotta Go finally launches, and Handler learns how to be a disruptor in her own way. She returns to the elementary school, and while learning how to program a maze in a video game, she uses Gotta Go to get out of class. "I have an app, and it works! I win!" Handler proclaims.