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Valley girl’s online talk show is about <i>Silicon</i> Valley

When you walk onto the set of Jesse Draper’s Silicon Valley-based talk show, you catch on pretty quickly that this isn’t CNBC.

The chairs are pink. The walls? Pink. Draper’s snug dress? Yep. Her high heels are pink too, with what are technically called sparkly things on them. And the video-game guitar she is handing to “Guitar Hero” co-creator Kai Huang, who’s wearing a pink cape and matching headband? Also pink.

“They are by no means entertainers,” Draper, 26, says of her tech-whiz guests, “so I wanted to make them more entertaining, make them real people and make them have a little fun.”

Yes, fun. Like former Cisco Chief Executive John Morgridge playing patty-cake, or angel investor Ron Conway doing a little dance while singing “Show me the money,” or Google CEO Eric Schmidt playing Pictionary, or clean-tech venture capitalist Vinod Khosla painting Draper’s arm green.

The Internet talk show, called “The Valley Girl Show,” is weird all right. And goofy and silly, and it’s on the Internet, for God’s sake, the province of skateboarding cats and viewers with gnat-like attention spans. But it is also a relief -- it makes a place that takes itself too seriously knock it off for a while. And in the process, the show can be revealing.

“The Valley Girl Show” has featured interviews with some real Silicon Valley A-listers, including Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems fame; Elon Musk of Tesla; Craig Newmark, the Craig in Craigslist; and venture capitalist Heidi Roizen. Draper plays a bit of a ditz (yes, she’s acting) as she drapes guests in pink boas and Hawaiian leis and plays word-association games with them.

The most recent shows are posted at www.youtube.com/valleygirl. Older episodes, which YouTube numbers indicate are typically viewed by no more than a few thousand people, are scattered across the Web.

You could say that “The Valley Girl” demonstrates the power of the Internet and its ability to give everyone a platform. But forget that. Draper isn’t everyone. Her grandfather, Bill Draper, is among the valley’s first venture capitalists. Her father, Tim Draper, is in the family business as founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson (Skype, Tesla, Hotmail).

Draper herself is a budding actress, who starred in Nickelodeon’s “The Naked Brothers Band” (not what you think) and has been in a few films.

It was while playing the vapid nanny on “The Naked Brothers,” a spoof documentary about a kids’ rock band created by her aunt Polly Draper, that Jesse Draper decided she wanted to create a show of her own. The business world had always intrigued her, so, she thought, why not interview business bigwigs?

“Growing up in the Silicon Valley, these are my heroes -- these great entrepreneurs,” she says. “These are the guys I look up to.”

As goofy as the show is, Draper is serious about it. She shot the first interviews in 2008 in a converted bedroom at her parents’ house. She’s moved on to a Palo Alto hotel ballroom, where she is taping a third season that will go up in mid-May. She’s put up some of her own money and she’s landed a few sponsors to pay for production. She’d love to break through to television, but so far no offers.

Yes, Draper says, her father’s and grandfather’s connections have helped land a number of guests.

“I can also tell you,” Draper adds, “that they weren’t the ones who thought of a pink talk show.”

Cassidy writes for the San Jose Mercury News.


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