May 31, 2007

A Silicon Valley Adventure: Trip to TiVo

I love living and working in the Silicon Valley. Though at times the hours and intensity can be challenging, I do enjoy being around aggressive people with innovative goals, and seeing the sources of development face to face. Today, I got to "look behind the curtain" at one of these companies - TiVo.

Yesterday evening, our TiVo remote stopped working. We've had it for four years, so that was no major surprise. It wasn't the end of the world, but it was certainly annoying, as we had no access to saved programs, and had to manually change the channel by going to the cable box.

This morning, I went to Fry's Electronics to get a replacement remote. No deal. They only wanted to give me one if I bought a new unit (for up to $800).

So at lunch, a colleague and I went to Best Buy. Same issue. They offered that I could possibly use a universal remote, but the universal remotes don't have a TiVo button, and it's questionable if they would work.

I looked online, and while I could get a remote cheap, I wouldn't get it right away unless I paid upward of $35 to ship a $10-$20 product via next day UPS.

I pass the TiVo's corporate headquarters every morning on my way to work, so I had other ideas. I went to the TiVo Web site, called their main number, and hit zero to talk with the operator. I told her of my plight, and after checking with her colleague, she asked me to drive over by 5 p.m., and I could have one of her three they had for customer demonstrations.

I hopped in the car, and less than ten minutes later, I was at TiVo's worldwide headquarters, surrounded by TiVo images, from the clocks to the floormats, to a six-foot TiVo mascot plush toy. I was also in possession of a brand new TiVo remote for free, thanks to the receptionist's generosity. I offered to pay, but she declined. After all, that wasn't the point. It was outstanding customer service, something she knew she could do given our offices were only a few blocks apart.

I was already a TiVo fan for life, but this service went above and beyond, delivering a story only possible here in the Silicon Valley.


  1. nice work! that's what you get for being proactive =)

  2. i often go back and forth as to whether "silicon valley" is an *idea* or a specific, geographical region. You just put one point in the latter column.

    My most recent thoughts on the matter:

    Past thoughts:

  3. Phil, different geographies have often tried to duplicate the success of Silicon Valley, from Silicon Alley to Bangalore and everywhere in between, but none have done it. With several decades' headstart, Silicon Valley will remain geographically ahead of the game for the foreseeable future as well, even as it seems the Web will break down borders. I can drive to the headquarters of Cisco, Intel, Apple, Sun, TiVo, NetApp and dozens of others in less than 20 minutes. That's pretty impressive.

  4. Another thing that makes the valley unique: Sand Hill Road. Is there any place else where, if you play your cards right, you can make a day trip out of shopping an idea to financiers?

  5. Wow.
    Way to work the system, Mr Gray. GIVE IT TO THE MAN!