Silicon Valley has a lingo of its own — from unicorns to pivoting to growth hacking — that while colorful can also be rather opaque. Our goal is to produce the definitive guide to the unique words used in the Bay Area startup scene, helping everyone from people who want to do business here to those who just want to watch HBO’s Silicon Valley without being confused. The book will offer the most comprehensive collection of Silicon Valley vocabulary and their definitions ever created — designed to be thorough and accurate while including a touch of humor (because face it, the way people talk in Silicon Valley can often be a bit ridiculous!)




When we first moved to Silicon Valley, the local vocabulary stumped us. Rochelle is fluent in Japanese, but found many of the phrases overheard in Silicon Valley to be more confusing than learning Japanese! Learning “The Language of Geeks” is not only fascinating, but also important for anyone who wants to become part of the start-up culture.

On a wider scale, people around the world are interested in Silicon Valley more than they ever have been. Valley Speak was written for people who’d like to integrate themselves into the world of Silicon Valley, better understand startup culture, or are interested in how some of business’ most notorious jargon came to be.

If you’ve wanted a way to break into the exciting conversation that is happening here in Silicon Valley, this book is for you. Or if you’re already in Silicon Valley, you may become frustrated when your colleagues in other places just don’t “get” how things are done here and wish you had a handy primer to give them. You may be familiar with some of the terms, but wish that you had a deeper understanding, so that you could use them with more confidence. Valley Speak features the top 100 Silicon Valley words and phrases and will help anyone navigate the Silicon Valley ecosystem like a pro. You can see a complete list of all the words that are covered in the book here.


In choosing the words for Valley Speak, we tried to strike a balance among the basic vocabulary fundamental to the startup scene, words related to the arcane details of venture capital financing, terms related to the emerging hot technologies coming out of the Valley, words that describe the new ways of doing business that are emerging from the Valley, and the trendy and sometimes funny lingo that people here constantly seem to be coming up with.

The words in the book fall into these categories:

-The Players

-How Funding Happens

-Product Development


-Technology Trends


-HR and Work Culture


We’ve included words that you’ll need to know if you’re a founder looking to get funded, a programmer wanting to better understand your Silicon Valley peers, a marketer who wants to use the latest trendy turn of phrase, a job seeker who wants to be seen as in-the-know, or anyone who doesn’t want to feel left out of the scene.

For example, one chapter sure to be of interest to would-be founders describes the intricate ins- and-outs of equity vesting, including what a vesting cliff is and the difference between single trigger acceleration and double trigger acceleration.

Other chapters aim to clearly define words that are used constantly in Silicon Valley, and people might not understand as well as they think they do, such as platform, thought leader, vertical and growth hacking.

More technical chapters discuss the science behind new frontiers in technology like IoT, semantic search, The Singularity, brain-computer interfaces and synthetic biology.

We also cover terms so overused in Silicon Valley that they have become clichés, like unicorn, disrupt, pivot, and fail fast. And just for fun we included words that capture the cultural zeitgeist here, like brogrammer, rockstar, and Bulletproof Coffee.

This book isn’t just a list of terms – we provide in-depth definitions building on our technical, business, and linguistic perspectives. We’ve also pulled quotes from hundreds of notable sources to give credibility and context to our definitions—everyone from Elon Musk to Tim Cook.