Chris Sacca is the only venture capitalist the cast of 'Silicon Valley' can recognize

'Silicon Valley' stars stumped on big tech

With HBO's "Silicon Valley" preparing for its fourth season later this month, the cast and crew spent Tuesday evening in San Francisco at a premier event for the press.

Three of the main actors — Thomas Middleditch, Amanda Crew and Zach Woods — joined CNBC's Josh Lipton for an interview and some tech industry trivia.

As it turns out, the show's characters really only play geeks on television. Start-up lingo isn't their thing. Comedy definitely is.

When presented with photos of six prominent venture capitalists, they completely whiffed on five of them. The only one they got right was Chris Sacca, who in addition to being a major investor in Twitter and Uber, is a judge on ABC's "Shark Tank" and famous for always wearing cowboy shirts.

"I've never met him but I have a secret crush on him," said Crew, who plays Monica Hall, a venture capital executive, on the show. "I love his Western shirts, love him on Shark Tank."

Middleditch, who portrays the tormented entrepreneur Richard Hendricks, said he doesn't know Sacca but he's good friends with his brother Brian, a Hollywood actor. They even go to see Los Angeles Kings hockey games together.

Photo by Nicola Gell

The rest of the trivia game didn't go so well.

Middleditch couldn't identify an image of Jeremy Liew, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners and the first investor in Snapchat.

"Isn't that Nick Viall, the last bachelor?" he asked, referring to a star of the reality show "The Bachelor."

As for an image of Uber investor Bill Gurley from Benchmark, Crew guessed it was "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek.

Woods, who plays start-up finance exec Jared Dunn, took a guess at an image of Marc Andreessen.

"That's Paul Giamatti with his beard shaved," Dunn said. "Tha's after he did 'John Adams,' and as a reward for himself he took all the hair and beard off." Giamatti portrayed Adams in a 2008 miniseries about the second U.S. president.

The other two investors the cast failed to recognize were Megan Quinn of Spark Capital and Chamath Palihapitiya of Social Capital.

Finally, on the flip side of the cardboard, they were given a bonus question and a chance to identify United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz, who's had a tough week.

Woods chimed in: "I don't know who it is but he's got a real good vibe about him, just seems salt of the earth, a real menschy, really has his heart in the right place."

Middleditch added that he "takes care of his own."

Lightning round

The cast didn't perform much better when asked about various buzzwords and hot topics.

Crew guessed that SaaS stood for "salty attitude sister." To be fair, it's pronounced like sass.

(The answer: software as a service.)

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When asked for a big competitor to AWS, Woods said "CFR," Crew said "BRW" and Middleditch said "RWR."

(The answer: AWS is Amazon's cloud division Amazon Web Services. Competitors include Google and Microsoft.)

Middleditch's answer to the question — Why is Alphabet suing Uber — was "U. B. E. and R.," after which he said, "That was so clutch" and then pretended to jump off the balcony.

(The answer: Alphabet's Waymo self-driving car unit is suing Uber for allegedly stealing trade secrets.)

And in attempting to come up with the name of the biggest IPO since Facebook, Middleditch said "Snortchort" and Woods guessed "Zany Brainy."

(The answer: Among U.S. tech companies, it was Snapchat parent Snap.)

As for who bought Yahoo's core web business, Middleditch said it was WebCrawler or Alta Vista and Woods suggested Redbox.

(The answer: Verizon.)

Finally, when asked for Alphabet's ticker symbol, Crew said "the ding donger," and Woods said, "that's a trick question."

(The answer: GOOGL.)