- LJ Erwin
- Google employee LJ Erwin has released a parody of Lil Nas X‘s “Old Town Road” that’s all about life as a founder in Silicon Valley.
- The song, called “Sand Hill Road,” features shoutouts to common tropes in the Silicon Valley scene, such as drinking Soylent, wearing Allbirds sneakers, and dropping out of college.
- Erwin tells Business Insider he’s inspired by what Lil Nas X represents for diversity and inclusion in the music industry, and how that can translate to the world of Silicon Valley.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” the unofficial anthem for Gen Z teens everywhere, has made its way into the depths of Silicon Valley.
A new remix of the viral Lil Nas X song dropped Tuesday, but it’s not from the country-hip-hip crossover singer himself. It’s a product of an employee at Google named LJ Erwin, and the lyrics about riding a horse through town are replaced quips about trying to raise money as a founder in Silicon Valley.
The song is called “Sand Hill Road,” in reference to the legendary road running through Silicon Valley home to some of the most prominent venture capital firms investing in tech companies.
The lyrics call out many of the cult brands and hot trends that have became tightly associated with the identity of being a part of Silicon Valley: sporting Apple Watches “matted black” and Allbirds sneakers “black to match”; drinking Soylent and following keto diets; dropping out of college and raising money for your tech startup until you can’t no mo’.
Erwin, who works as a program lead for Google Cloud for Startups, told Business Insider that “Sand Hill Road” started simply as an idea from a friend for a song parodying Silicon Valley. But inspiration struck after he saw a teen riding around on a Bird electric scooter while blasting “Old Town Road,” and he thought about bringing the two worlds together.
With little more than YouTube tutorial videos and Garage Band, Erwin created “Sand Hill Road.” Erwin said the song is written from the perspective of Silicon Valley founders, who are in debt to VCs for just a fraction of their investment capital. In one of the oft-repeated lines of his song – “can’t no VC tell me nothin'” – Erwin urges founders to not give in to investor demands, and stick to their beliefs and their ideas.
Erwin said he draws inspiration from how Lil Nas X represents diversity and inclusion in the music indsuty, and hopes that some of the buzz from his parody song can do the same for Silicon Valley.
“The new artist path closely parallels that of an early stage founder, who is also on a mission to transform their vision into reality, despite the odds,” Erwin wrote in a blog post for Product Hunt. “Although this project started as a writing challenge, I hope the song becomes a rally anthem for founders.”