Valley Voice
A little pink goes a long way

On the set of “The Valley Girl Show” in Los Angeles, second high-tech mecca of California, TV-maker Jesse Draper meets with Google’s Eric Schmidt, Elon Musk from Tesla and many other software icons.
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Jesse Draper says she can’t quite remember how she persuaded Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg to talk about her former career as an aerobics instructor. “I always do a lot of research about my guests,” said 31-year-old Ms. Draper.

“And of course my show is fun, so even the most serious CEOs relax a bit.” Before Ms. Sandberg even knew what she was doing, she had disclosed to the audience that she spent the 80s wearing silver leggings and a headband.

Ms. Draper is the founder of “The Valley Girl Show,” and she plays her role well.

The set is in Beverly Hills. As the camera rolls, Ms. Draper, wearing an apricot dress and high heels, starts dancing about in her chair, wide-eyed, laughing and singing. With her long curls and pouting lips painted a shade of berry, she looks a bit like a doll.

But she is a doll who knows no mercy. Her guest, Brad Griffith, CEO of Gametime, a mobile marketplace for online ticketing, had a look of pain as he realized he had no choice but to join in the crazy dance.

It’s when Ms. Draper starts asking serious question about business models and future growth plans that everybody in the studio realizes the girl in pink might act naive but she knows her business. “A little pink goes a long way,” Ms. Draper said between takes. “Valley Girl is a silly girl in pink from LA who’s not very clever. I liked combining this pink persona with a sharp interview technique – it’s hilarious how well this combination works.”

Ms. Draper, who started her show on YouTube, has been hosting it on Saturday night television ever since she signed a deal last May with CBS to broadcast it in Northern California and Seattle.

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What makes “The Valley Girl Show” so special is that it discusses one of the most recent and intriguing developments in tech: What happens when Silicon Valley goes to the beach – and what’s the deal with Silicon Valley and a Silicon Beach, California’s second tech hub? Who’s there – clever and not-so-smart Valley girls and boys – who might be a whole lot smarter than the oh-so-brainy folk from Silicon Valley?

So far, the start-ups at home in Silicon Beach include dating app Tinder, Snapchat – the app with the disappearing pictures that’s now valued at $15 billion – and Nasty Gal, an online fashion retailer. More than 800 companies are located there; don’t underestimate Silicon Beach.

Ms. Draper started filming while she was still living with her parents in Atherton, California. It’s a good neighborhood: tech billionaires Eric Schmidt, Paul Allen and Meg Whitman all own houses there, one of the most expensive zip codes in the whole nation. Ms. Sandberg, the former aerobics instructor, was also a former neighbor. Ms. Draper started out by inviting her family’s friends to the show, including Elon Musk of Tesla; one day she almost interviewed Mark Zuckerberg.

Now Ms. Draper is enjoying her independence as producer, writer and interviewer. But she learned a lot from her father, Tim C. Draper, third generation venture capitalist, and has the same warm brown eyes. When she was little, her father taught her how to survive alone on a boat on the ocean, how to swim three miles through ice-cold water and how to make a good fire in the woods.

She’s still learning though. A phone rings annoyingly in the middle of the shoot. “Oh damn, it’s mine, sorry,” Ms. Draper said, switching it to mute.

Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version dieser Kolumne.

Immer Dienstags schreibt Britta Weddeling, Korrespondentin für die Themen Internet und Netzwirtschaft des Handelsblatts im Silicon Valley, über die neusten Trends und kleinen Kuriositäten im Tal der Nerds.

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