Winter is here.
Westeros and its inhabitants are fictional, but the competition, human behaviors, and anxieties of its characters are real. As I spent the past few weeks rewatching “Game of Thrones,” I couldn’t help but notice how applicable the main characters and their problems are to storylines of Silicon Valley leaders.
In the spirit of pure fun, here’s my take how “Game of Thrones” characters match up with Silicon Valley/tech leaders:
Lannister storylines, aka the headline grabbers
Cersei = Elon Musk. Cersei is ruthless and fiercely protective of her family. She does not care about public perception, even if it’s about her love affair.
Jaime = Tim Cook. He is always stuck between a rock and a hard place, trying to balance family responsibility with his own rationality.
Meanwhile, Tim Cook is trying to defend Apple as a tech company that is not like other tech companies.
Tywin = Jeff Bezos. The richest man who is feared by many because he can get into anyone’s business. This one was easy.
Tyrion = Satya Nadella. A complex character who is wise and underrated.
Snow storylines, aka the tormented
Night King = Peter Thiel. Wields a lot of power as an opposing force that has figured out immortality.
Peter Thiel, the founder of PayPal and the PayPal Mafia (creating many millionaires and Silicon Valley execs as a result). A noted Trump supporter in a land of liberals, and has a noted interest in solving aging and death.
Bran = Brian Chesky. Another complex character given his transition from human to Three-Eyed Raven. Young and in the background.
Hodor = Softbank. Has one role: whatever Bran needs. Softbank has one role: ATM for Silicon Valley.
Jon = Jack Dorsey. Always trying to do the right thing but gets in his own way. This one was hard so hear me out: Jon tried to be Night’s Watch ranger but gets picked as steward. He tried to infiltrate the wildlings but ended up falling in love with one and having to run away. He tried to unite Night’s Watch and wildlings but got killed. Also, he “knows nothing.”
Jack Dorsey tries to fight hate speech, harassment, but doesn’t go far enough, rules applied unevenly; tries to be transparent, but gets slaughtered in the comments; and in short, still doesn’t really know…what to do.
Sansa = Us, the “users.” We looked at Silicon Valley like Sansa looked at Westeros and thought, “There is the promised land, where life changing products are being made. My life is going to be so much better if…” But when we got there and bought into it all, we became chained to the products — the devices and app—and ending up feeling horrible about ourselves. We repeatedly had our privacy violated and data stolen.
Theon = Silicon Valley generally. A traitor trying to make things right again. It was good. The people (the “users”) loved the stuff that was created, but the last two years have been bad … and now tech leaders are trying to change.
Little Finger = Travis Kalanick. The guy who did anything to get what he wanted and the guy everyone was waiting for to get offed.
Meereen storylines, aka the inimitable
Daenerys = Kylie Jenner. A “self made” beauty queen who uses her family’s name to get ahead with a loyal following and three dragons.
Kylie Jenner is not technically from Silicon Valley, but if Silicon Valley were Westeros, Daenerys isn’t on Westeros for most of show. She uses social media to amass her following. They aren’t dragons, but Kourtney, Kim and Khloé are certainly fierce.
Missandei = Margit Wennmachers. Co-founder of the Valley’s most connected PR firm, Outcast, who now leads comms for Andreessen Horowitz.
Grey Worm and the Unsullied = content moderators. Countless, thankless soldiers whose sole job it is to serve whoever owns them.
Jorah = Facebook users. They don’t seem strong enough to quit the platform even though Facebook doesn’t love them back.
Varys = Kara Swisher. A master whisperer of secrets.
Baratheon storylines, aka the hopeless
Robert Baratheon = Marc Benioff. A showman who is jolly and decently liked.
Stannis Baratheon and the Red Woman, Melisandre = Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. A doomed duo made up of a man who felt he had a vision for taking over the world, but was badly advised by a woman who seemed to have the answers. Bad things keep happening to them both.
Seven blessings to all. Hope you enjoyed my list, and feel free to debate in the comments.