Attending an elaborate launch party, Richard and his computer programmer friends - Big Head, Dinesh and Gilfoyle - dream of making it big. Instead, they're living in the communal Hacker Hostel owned by former programmer Erlich, who gets to claim ten percent of anything they invent there. When it becomes clear that Richard has developed a powerful compression algorithm for his website, Pied Piper, he finds himself courted by Gavin Belson, his egomaniacal corporate boss, who offers a million buyout by his firm, Hooli. But Richard holds back when well-known investor Peter Gregory makes a counteroffer.
After a celebratory party at the Hacker Hostel, Richard and Erlich learn that Peter Gregory won't pay up until they deliver a viable business plan that includes a slimmed-downed staff. A desperate Richard hires former Belson underling Jared, and they set about trying to trim the fat. While Gilfoyle and Dinesh prove essential, Big Head's place in the company is less certain.
While Gavin Belson begins to hype Nucleus, a competing compression platform, Richard learns that the name Pied Piper is already registered to a sprinkler company, forcing him to negotiate. Meanwhile, Erlich goes on a vision quest for a new company name, and Peter Gregory proves elusive when one of his companies asks for money.
At Peter's toga party, Richard drunkenly promises to make Erlich a board member, which he regrets the next morning. After being unassigned at Hooli, Big Head finds others like him who have made careers out of doing nothing. Richard struggles to put Pied Piper's vision into words for a presentation without Erlich; later, he discovers an interesting connection between Peter and Gavin Belson.
Erlich taps a graffiti artist to design Pied Piper's logo, with predictably controversial results. Meanwhile, Richard learns he doesn't have much time to prepare for a live demonstration at TechCrunch Disrupt; Gavin Belson and Peter Gregory have an unexpected encounter; and Jared works on the company's efficiency.
Richard feels threatened when the team hires "The Carver" a hacker with a notorious reputation, to help with Pied Piper's cloud. Jared finds himself taken for a ride when he seeks out Peter Gregory's signature. Erlich and Dinesh compete for the attention of Tara, Gilfoyle's visiting girlfriend. Later, Dinesh faces a sexual dilemma.
At TechCrunch Disrupt, Richard feels the pressure to finish his demo, but finds himself distracted by a girl he dated briefly, who's now spreading rumors about him. Jared worries that Monica is taking his place in the company. Dinesh develops a crush on a girl at a neighboring booth. Erlich's scandalous past connection to one of the judges threatens Pied Piper's chances.
Poised to compete at TechCrunch Disrupt, the guys of Pied Piper become worried after an impressive presentation by Gavin Belson. As Jared tries to pivot the company, Richard is inspired to make big changes at the last minute.