'Silicon Valley' Season 6: Ashley Madison fiasco shows PiedPiper didn’t need to make Hooli’s adultery app Foxhole more inclusive
In season 6 of ‘Silicon Valley’, one of the major events that took place was PiedPiper taking over Gavin Belson’s (Matt Ross’) Hooli. The reason behind the takeover was simple. Maximo Reyes (Arturo Castro), a wealthy Chilean businessman was trying to take over PiedPiper after Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) rejected his $1 billion offer.
The only way to make sure that the company did not go into Reyes' hands, who was a foreign national, they needed to buy Hooli’s app Foxhole -- a platform where military personnel could philander and solicit sex workers. Because the app was used by military personnel, U.S. laws required the company to be based in the country and owned by Americans.
While Foxhole received an overhaul after Hooli’s takeover -- it now catered to women soldiers and even tried to help unionize the sex workers -- it still carried a stink with it. That was essentially the reason why Monica Hall (Amanda Crew) wanted nothing to do with it, understandably.
A platform or an app that is designed to abate adultery (especially for men) would only receive condemnation. And perhaps, that’s why the overhaul was necessary. It’s also dangerous, especially considering if you remember what happened to Ashley Madison.
The Ashley Madison Agency is a Canadian online dating service and social networking service marketed specifically to people who are married or in relationships. It was founded in 2002 by Darren Morgenstern and had the slogan: "Life is short. Have an affair."
Things came crashing in July of 2015, when a group called "The Impact Team" stole the user data of some 32 million users. This data contained information that included emails, names of users, home addresses of users, sexual fantasies and credit card information.
The group threatened to dump the data online if they did not shut their service down. They didn’t and what came next was as inevitable as it was horrifying. On August 18 and August 20, 2015, the group leaked more than 25 gigabytes of data.
Four days later, two Canadian law firms announced a joint $578 million class-action lawsuit against Ashley Madison on behalf of all Canadians, citing Ashley Madison's more than 30 million users whose information had been exposed as well as the many users who had paid Ashley Madison's delete fee but did not have their information removed.
Wired.com analyzed the data and found that of email addresses found in the data dump, close to 15,000 were “.mil” or “.gov” addresses, but they could not verify the legitimacy of these addresses. One thing is for sure, however, that despite the bad press, the data breach, and the lawsuits, Ashley Madison as a company continued to flourish.
According to an August 2019 report on Forbes, Ashley Madison had amassed around 32 million new users since the hack. Chief strategy officer Paul Keable told the business news outlet, "Before the events of 2015, we had some 30,000 new people joining every day. We're now back to around 22,000."
So, while it was good for PiedPiper -- actually just their employee Priyanka Singh (Krishna Smitha) -- to try and fix the platform by making it more inclusive and more woke; had the team left it the way it was, it would have remained just fine. Minus the momentary bad press, of course.
New episodes of ‘Silicon Valley’ premiere Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO.