Living… in the Hacker Hostel, his Palo Alto tech incubator. His residents include software engineers Richard Hendricks, Bertram Gilfoyle, and Dinesh Chugtai. In exchange for 10% equity in their businesses, he gives them “wisdom,” shelter and a place to work. At least, that’s how Erlich sees it.
Profession… Senior Minority Owner and Chief Visionary of Pied Piper, Richard Hendriks’ music-matching app that turned out to possess a remarkable compression algorithm to make data files smaller without distortion. Though Erlich does little work on a day-to-day basis, he provides much-needed advice on important business decisions. It’s been years since he sold his startup, the Expedia-like Aviato, but he still drives around Palo Alto in his blue-and-yellow car covered in the “Aviato” logo.
Interests… rice krispie treats, quinoa, marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, and watching “a lot of black porn.”
Relationship Status… single and looking to hook up. He favors wearing shirts saying things like “I Know H.T.M.L. (How to Meet Ladies).” But most women are repulsed by his bold advances and avant-garde facial hair.
Challenge… getting the timid Richard to toughen up in order to improve Pied Piper’s chances of success. Richard’s lossless compression algorithm could make them all billionaires, but Richard has to learn to play the game in time to beat a rival’s well-funded Pied Piper rip-off. Erlich will call on every trick in his bizarre book to help make that happen.
Personality… selfish, brash and short-tempered, but more capable than he first seems. Erlich gives off an air of idiocy, but he is a deft networker and a genius when it comes to manipulating the media. Still, his smugness comes out constantly, like when he explains his business trip packing process: “I dress for the moods I sense in the room. As such, I must have options.”
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