Big Tech and ambitious startups dominate headlines and influence our everyday lives—with Hollywood documenting their stories along the way. Whether you love them, hate them, or want to join them, get to know what goes on at the world’s most talked-about technology companies through our picks of startup movies and TV shows, including groundbreaking successes, spectacular failures, as well as scandals and scams.
[Stay up to date with the latest in privacy and security. Sign up for the ExpressVPN blog newsletter.]
Movies about Apple
Of the two Steve Jobs biopics, Jobs is far more sympathetic to its subject. Ashton Kutcher looks eerily similar to a young Steve Jobs and has been praised for his portrayal, which was a departure from his usual comedic roles. Kutcher reportedly studied Jobs’ mannerisms and even followed a fruitarian diet to prepare for the role. Fun fact: most of the scenes featuring Jobs’ parents’ house and garage were filmed in the actual house he grew up in.
Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Josh Gad, J.K. Simmons, Dermot Mulroney
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 28%
Where to stream: Starz
Steve Jobs (2015)
This Steve Jobs story came out two years after Jobs. Directed by Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire) with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing), it benefited from a strong cast and a more complex portrayal of Apple’s visionary. The film mostly follows Jobs over three separate days as he prepares backstage in the lead-up to major product launches, starting with the 1984 launch of the Macintosh and ending with the introduction of the iMac in 1998.
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogan, Jeff Daniels
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 85%
Where to stream: Netflix, Vudu, Hoopla
Movies about Facebook
The Social Network (2010)
Scripted by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher, The Social Network is one of the OG startup movies and charts Mark Zuckerberg’s rise over six years from Harvard student to founder, CEO, and billionaire. Although the accuracy of the movie has been disputed by Facebook, Jesse Eisenberg is extremely compelling as Zuckerberg—so much so that he’s regularly mistaken for the real Zuckerberg.
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 96%
Where to stream: Netflix
The Great Hack (2019)
This documentary unpacks the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where millions of Facebook users had their data collected without their consent by the British consulting firm. The data was largely collected for political advertising and was used to provide analytical assistance to the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. The documentary features interviews with former Cambridge Analytica employees, legal experts, and investigative journalists. Facebook was fined 5 billion USD as a result of a Federal Trade Commission investigation.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 85%
Where to stream: Netflix
Movies about Google
The Internship (2013)
Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson play two out-of-work watch salesmen who attempt to reboot their careers by getting internships at Google, competing with interns half their age for one of a few coveted roles at the company. They are fish out of water; hilariously out of touch with technology, and full of ideas that already exist. The office in The Internship isn’t the real Googleplex, but Sergey Brin makes a cameo, and the film used 100 real Google employees as extras.
Cast: Vince Vaughan, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 35%
Where to stream: HBO, HBO MAX
Google and the World Brain (2013)
Google had a plan to scan every book in the world—to build a library for mankind. Google and the World Brain suggests they were also planning to create a higher form of intelligence, a concept predicted by H.G. Wells in his “World Brain” essay from 1937. The documentary explores the copyright controversy that exploded in 2011 when authors around the world launched a campaign to shut down the plan.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 83%
Where to stream: Curiosity Stream
Movies about Theranos
The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019)
A compelling documentary featuring plenty of footage of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos who claimed her company had created technology that could detect diseases with just a few drops of blood. Rather than explicitly condemn Holmes for allegedly committing fraud against Theranos investors, the documentary chooses to lay out all the information, including interviews with former Theranos employees and investors, in an impartial manner.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 79%
Where to stream: HBO MAX, HBO, Vudu
The Dropout (2022)
Amanda Seyfried gets excellent reviews as Elizabeth Holmes, in this Hulu Original miniseries. Naveen Andrews (Lost) stars as Sunny Balwani, her one-time business partner and boyfriend. Based on the podcast The Dropout, hosted by Rebecca Jarvis, the miniseries touches on Elizabeth’s life from her childhood through to her eventual exposure as a fraud.
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Naveen Andrews, William H. Macy
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 89%
Where to stream: Hulu
Bad Blood (pre-production)
This is still in pre-production so it’ll be a long wait before we get to see Jennifer Lawrence as Elizabeth Holmes. The screenplay is based on the book of the same name by John Carreyrou, which traces the rise and fall of Theranos from the very beginning. Carreyrou’s investigation into Theranos also inspired the excellent podcast, The Dropout.
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence
Release date: TBC
Movies about Uber
Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber (2022)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt heads up this miniseries as Travis Kalanick, co-founder and CEO of Uber. He is, of course, ousted from that role in a boardroom coup, after a series of controversies (including allegations that he ignored reports of sexual harassment at the company). Uma Thurman is Ariana Huffington of The Huffington Post, one of the Uber board members tapped to lead an investigation into Uber’s toxic culture.
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kyle Chandler, Uma Thurman
Release date: 27 February
Where to stream: Showtime
Movies about WeWork
WeWork: Or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn (2021)
This documentary focuses on the six-week death spiral that resulted in WeWork’s failed IPO and CEO Adam Neumann’s decision to step down. Featuring interviews with journalists, former senior employees, and former WeWork members, the documentary also looks at the toxic frat-boy culture in the WeWork workplace.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 77%
Where to stream: Hulu
Based on the podcast WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork, this miniseries examines what happened to one of the world’s most valuable startups. WeWork started as a single co-working space and grew into a 47 billion USD global brand in less than a decade. You’ll have to watch to find out how it all fell to pieces, but within a matter of weeks its IPO was called off and the valuation decreased to 7 billion USD.
Cast: Jared Leto, Anne Hathaway, America Ferrera
Where to stream: AppleTV
Movies about startup founders
Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999)
Pirates is an origin story of sorts for Apple and Microsoft founders Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Steve Ballmer. This humorous film begins in the ’70s as Jobs and Wozniak meet at Hewlett-Packard, and covers years of friendship, betrayal, and competition, ending with a bang in 1997 as Jobs announces Gates as Apple’s new investor. Variety called it a “wildly entertaining geek tragedy.”
Cast: Noah Wyle, Anthony Michael Hall
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 89%
Where to stream: Vudu
Silicon Cowboys (2016)
In telling the story of the start-up and rise of Compaq Computers, this documentary focuses largely on the people and less on the technology. Three friends come up with the concept for the Compaq portable computer in a Texas diner, and before they know it, they’re facing down PC behemoth IBM. It’s a fairly sympathetic telling and is based on a book by one of the founders, Rod Canion.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 100%
Where to stream: Peacock, Tubi, PlutoTV, Vudu, Sundance Now
Something Ventured (2011)
Get a crash course in venture capitalism in this fascinating documentary that looks at the other side of startups—the investors who write the checks. These are the investors who recognized an opportunity, and whose investments in Apple, Intel, Genentech, Atari, Google, and Cisco led to the birth of Big Tech.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: NA
Where to stream: AppleTV, Kanopy, KinoNow
TV series about startups
Silicon Valley (2014-2019)
This popular series follows programmer Richard and his friends as they attempt to make it big with their startup company Pied Piper. An on-the-money parody of the actual Silicon Valley, Richard navigates success, failure, and legal woes over six seasons. The show was praised for its writing and was partly inspired by co-creator Mike Judge’s experience as a software engineer in Silicon Valley.
Cast: Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani, T.J. Miller
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 94%
Where to stream: HBO MAX, HBO
Worlds collide when a clean-cut banker and a rogue hacker team up to launch a cryptocurrency startup with financial backing from a Miami crime lord. But a corrupt FBI agent (Martin Freeman) threatens to derail their plans. The critics didn’t like it, but if nothing else it’s a good lesson in how not to approach your tech dreams.
Halt and Catch Fire (2014-2017)
A dramatization of the personal computing boom of the 1980s, Halt and Catch Fire focuses on Cardiff Electric and the ambitious visionary, Joe McMillan. Set in the Silicon Prairie in Fort Worth, Texas, this series was compared to Mad Men for its stylish and serious portrayal of the ’80s tech boom.
Cast: Lee Pace, Mackenzie Davis, Scoot McNairy
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 90%
Where to stream: FuboTV, Amazon Prime, Roku
FAQ: About Silicon Valley movies
Is ‘Pirates of Silicon Valley’ a true story?
Pirates of Silicon Valley is based on true events described in Michael Swaine’s 1984 non-fiction book Fire in the Valley: The Making of the Personal Computer. Steve Wozniak has said that various incidents in the film did occur, but the people involved often differed from the actual events. He also commented that most of the personalities were “very accurately portrayed.”
Why is it called Silicon Valley?
Silicon Valley is the nickname of an area in California that has a large concentration of computer-related companies, including eBay, Adobe, HP, and Yahoo. Silicon is a key substance used to make semiconductors, also known as microchips. Not surprisingly, the location is a valley—a low area of land surrounded by mountains. The term first appeared in an article in 1971.