“The Empty Chair” (S03E05)
The team finds out Pied Piper is running out of money, as Raviga is funding them in installments and will only continue to do so when they deliver the finished product, which is now the platform. They take drastic measures and decide to get rid of the office, its equipment and all employees, returning to Erlich’s incubator. Meanwhile, Erlich drafts a manipulative partnership agreement with Big Head which gives Erlich complete control over Big Head’s assets, even if his Pied Piper shares aren’t included in it. Richard confronts Laurie about an article on a tech blog called Code/Rag which mocks Pied Piper’s absence of a CEO and Richard himself. Laurie agrees that he should meet with its author, C. J. Cantwell, in order to restore their reputation, but demands that he speaks with their head of PR first. When Richard gets to Raviga to do so, he enters the wrong room and ends up ranting about Laurie’s actions in front of Cantwell, mistaking her for the head of PR. At the same time, Laurie confides to Monica that she was wrong to remove Richard as CEO in the first place, but that he shouldn’t be perceived as the first choice but rather the correct one, thus her search for lesser prospective candidates (including Big Head). Laurie planned to award Richard the position at the next board meeting, as long as he remained professional. When Richard realizes he’s been talking to Cantwell all along, he tries to prevent her from publishing the story. She tells him she will only back away if he feeds her something better. Erlich and Big Head meet at the incubator to sign their partnership deal, as Erlich announces its name: “Bachmanity”. Upon hearing of Richard’s predicament, Big Head lets slip that Gavin Belson secretly ordered his employees to scrub all negative publicity about Hooli from the internet. Richard immediately seeks Cantwell to publish this story instead of his and ends up finally being repromoted to CEO. Meanwhile, the team reveals that they hired an engineering team composed of outsourced coders working remotely from various places around the globe, at a fraction of the cost of hiring them in Palo Alto.