When Bravo's reality show "Start-Ups: Silicon Valley" roared into the tech world's consciousness last month, some hailed it as further proof geeks have become -- in the words of one cast member -- "the new rock stars."
Others bewailed the show as a "Jersey Shore" wannabe that bore little resemblance to real life in the startup trenches. Blogger Sarah Lacy warned that executive producer Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook's CEO, had "sold her Silicon Valley soul for 15 minutes of fame."
But when the eight-part series aired its final episodes last week, it did so amid relative quiet. Bravo moved the final two episodes of "Start-Ups" out of prime time and aired them back to back, and the network has announced no plans for a follow-up season.
In part, that may be due to middling ratings. The New York Times noted that the Nov. 5 debut of "Start-Ups" notched about 700,000 viewers, citing Nielsen data from Bravo. But that audience dropped by about 25 percent over the next five episodes, to a nightly average of 517,000.
Bravo's hit "Real Housewives of Atlanta," by contrast, garnered 3.61 million viewers last week, according to a website called TV by the Numbers.
But while some TV critics said Bravo had abandoned "Start-Ups," cast member Kim Taylor told this newspaper that the network had always planned to air the final episodes on consecutive nights so they wouldn't get
Taylor, who came up with the idea for a fashion startup called Shonova during her 11 weeks taping the show, also said Nielsen ratings underestimate people who record a program for viewing later.
"The household income for viewers of our show skewed so much higher than their average that my guess is our DVR numbers put us over a million viewers," said Taylor, who had previously worked in TV production on shows such as "Gossip Girl."
Being on the other side of the camera, she said, was exhausting, but worth it to promote her new company.
"Ninety-nine percent of the feedback I've gotten for myself has been really positive," Taylor said. "My clients love it."
As for the vitriol that many valley denizens poured on "Start-Ups," she said thick skin is one of the key traits of any good entrepreneur.
"Everyone said, 'Oh, it was terrible,' " she said, "but everyone watched it here."
Even Derek Andersen, a startup veteran who disliked the show, admitted it had a strong local following.
"I think it was more out of curiosity and wanting to see the people they knew," said Andersen, who runs a Palo Alto-based entrepreneurship network called Startup Grind,
Just how to spice up a show about an industry where people primarily sit in front of computers was a challenge, Zuckerberg acknowledged in a November email to this newspaper.
Folks who carped that the show focused too much on parties and catfights didn't give enough credit to how hard the on-screen entrepreneurs work, Taylor said.
"I assure you that I don't sleep," she said. "I'm not celebrating Christmas with my family."
Contact Peter Delevett at 408-271-3638. Follow him at Twitter.com/mercwiretap.