In some ways, Silicon Valley is a world of its own, where the brightest and geekiest minds get together to work on the next Facebooks and Googles.
But that could create a big gap in the language they use from the rest of the world.
In order to bridge the gap, entrepreneur and engineer Kilim Choi created a site called Silicon Valley Dictionary, an Urban Dictionary for Silicon Valley jargon.
“The other day while watching the ‘Silicon Valley’ TV show, my friend Matt thought that it would be hilarious and educational to create a website like urban dictionary for all the lingos from the show. So we created one. Hope you enjoy it, feel free to add some words on the website and let us know what you think!” Choi wrote on Product Hunt.
We pulled 35 of the most widely-used and interesting terms and definitions found on the site that only people in Silicon Valley would understand. See if you can tell what they mean:
1. In the wild
Seeing a new technology out in the real world, not just at launches and demos.
Have you spotted the new Google car in the wild yet?
2. Founder Syndrome
The founder syndrome is when the founder starts thinking he is a rockstar and that the startup is still going because of his bright opinions in everything. He starts neglecting what engineering propose and put his nose in every single detail. It can also be called the “I’m like Steve Jobs” Syndrome.
Founder at early stage: Guys! Let’s work together and make it happen, we all rock.
Founder after the syndrome: No, just do it like I said, everybody is using this Ruby On Rails thing, we must use it too.
3. VC Money
Modern day Robinhood. Taking money from your parent’s retirement pension and redistributing it to early adopters of technology in Silicon Valley.
Friend 1: “How do you have so many free meals from Munchery? Have you ever paid for a single meal?”
Friend 2: “Nope. VC Money”
4. Server Down Saturday
A Saturday night where a video game’s server crashes and one has to go out and socialise with people in person.
We had a server down saturday this past weekend, so I went to Julia’s party. It was the first time I had talked to a girl in real life in months.
Usually refers to when users’ retention rate (i.e. percentage of users coming back) for a product is high.
A key to creating a viral app is to make it sticky! Once users love it, they will come back and tell their friends about it.
6. Venture Dunce
A “VC” outside of the Bay Area that has little to no experience in software/hardware, enterprise, and consumer plays. Often seen funding the nth food delivery market place or Uber meets bicycles. The dumb money that keeps many startups fed.
Just raised $US10mm from the Venture Dunce for my Uber meets Chinese food delivery. Hope he doesn’t visit the Bay Area much.
7. Value Add
Noun. A term for vague and banal advice VCs like giving the founders, supposedly helping uncover the secrets to building a successful business.
VC (at board meeting): you know, it is very important not to run out of money
Founder (trying to placate — more funding will be needed soon): that’s a very good point, we are on it
VC: when we invested, I told you we bring a lot of “value add,” not just money
Founder: (placating again): gee, you were right, and we appreciate it
VC (smug, and actually believing they just helped): thank you
8. Soylent Diet
Refers to the diet of busy entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Instead of eating like normal human beings, these entrepreneurs drink Soylent, a powered meal replacement, because it is more efficient than chewing and using knife and fork.
Matthew: Wow have you heard of Soylent? It will allow me to work throughout the day without wasting any time to eat like these foodies out here. I only wish it came in a backpack so I could attach a feeding tube between it and my stomach and have it on the go.
9. One Dollar Billionaire
Refers to the $US1 a year salary that a lot of founders and top executives take on for tax benefits. It’s also because who really cares about salary when you have a billion dollars.
Mark Zuckerberg: I make $US1 a year. You know what that means.
10. Backseat Investor
An investor who will never tell you no, but will wait for a lead investor to commit so he can take a backseat and ride the return train. They always tell you to keep them informed with your project without ever providing active help.
I thought Cody would be a generous investor after his company got acquired, but instead he’s just another backseat investor waiting for a bigger fish to bite.
11. Janitor at startup
The title an arsehole CEO (generally a sole founder) puts on their Linkedin title to show they have the ability to fire anybody.
Random dude: Where do you work?
Albert: I am at the greatest game company around called BigVikingGames
Random dude: Cool, what do you do there?
Albert: I am the janitor, I just take out the trash!
Random dude: Cool story bro.
When a mobile app has the capability to improve or perform a commonly desired action.
This is a great apportunity- a way to use our smart phones to decrease lines at the DMV by allowing reservations.
The purist form of startup. A startup that is valued for billions of dollars without recording any sales revenue. Typically, less revenue demonstrates a higher valuation by “Early Stage Investors.”
Investor: ‘What’s your revenue model?’
Founder: ‘At the moment, we are pre-revenue…we are focused on user acquisition and securing a unicorn valuation for our Series A.’
14. Zombie Mode
A state of minimal eye or head movement while looking at a phone. Frequently observed during your morning commute to work on BART, subway or bus. If you look up once in a while to observe your surroundings you are not in zombie mode.
Jason: Hey do you see that guy sitting over there. That’s my dad. Why is he taking the bus right now.
Tim: Sorry say that again. I wasn’t listening.
15. Logo Wingman
When an employee of a hot pre-IPO company purposely wears a lot of corporate swag to attract the opposite sex.
Richard: Yesterday I was talking to this woman at the bar and I purposely tilted my body so she could get a glance at the Uber logo on my sweatshirt. My backpack had Uber on it too. No response. I mean I didn’t initiate conversation but I thought that would be enough.
16. Churn Rate
Fancy term for the percentage of people that stop using startup’s offerings. Higher the churn rate, the more screwed up your startup will be. Famously used in Andrew Chen’s blog article on dating startups.
Investor: So what’s the churn rate for your company?
Founder: Well, in the last 3 months, about 80% of users came back to use our service.
Investor: So, about 20%. That’s pretty good. But that’s 80% out of how many?
17. The Steve Jobs Diet
A dietary regimen containing mostly fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and grains with a higher to average ratio of apples and carrots. Absolutely no animal products.
I decided to go on the Steve Jobs Diet because Steve is my icon. That’s why there are only apples and carrots in the house.
18. Airbnb Job
Refers to the job of renting out sections of your own apartment or even renting and purchasing new property for the sole purpose of renting out on Airbnb.
Rachel: You told me you didn’t have a job.
Tim: Oh, it’s an Airbnb job. Not a real job but my closet is fetching $US800 a month right now so I make good money.
19. Three Commas Club
Three commas implies a billion dollars as $US1,000,000,000 has 3 commas.
Richard’s literalness remains the one thing to rattle Russ. “You know what has three commas in it, Richard?” “A sentence with two appositive phrases in it?”
20. Buying the logo
Investors putting a tiny percentage of a fund into a company so they can claim credit. Credit to Sam Altman.
Due to the success of Airbnb, some investors are buying the logo so they can put an Airbnb badge on their website.
Funding your startup from your own pocket money. (Because nobody will invest in it).
I don’t need VC money, I have decided to bootstrap it myself. Yeah!
The “minimum viable product” is exactly like the product you had in mind, except with fewer features and more bugs.
Founder: “We’re going to validate the market with our MVP.” Engineer: “Sweet!”
23. 10x Engineer
A developer who incurs technical debt so fast he appears more productive than the ten developers tasked with cleaning his mess up.
Founder: “We are only looking for 10x Engineers.”
Adding game elements to normally not game related software or processes in order to increase engagement.
A: User testing has shown that users don’t like our accounting app.
B: We should really be adding some gamification.
A: Will that make the app more useful?
B: No, but more fun!
25. Herd Mentality
When people follow the leader or others like a herd instead of thinking independently. Often seen when investors are deciding which startups to fund.
VC: You guys have a really strong team, exactly the type that we like to fund, but we just don’t believe in the idea.
Kim: Did I mention that a16z decided to invest in us yesterday.
VC: Wait. Don’t leave. I think we started things off on the wrong foot.
We failed. Now, we’re starting over, possibly with something completely different.
We started out by building a SoLoMo network for hermits. We’ve now pivoted to becoming the Uber of door-to-door encyclopedia sales.
27. Stealth Mode
A startup that is a phase of secrecy in which they don’t reveal what they actually do in an attempt to ward off potential competition.
Zeeshan: What do you do?
Steve: I’m in a startup.
Zeeshan: What do you guys do?
Steve: I can’t tell you. We’re in stealth mode.
Zeeshan: That’s dumb.
28. Hockey Stick Growth
We are wildly overoptimistic about our future growth prospects.
Our growth rate may look linear (some would say flat), but that’s how most of a hockey stick looks. Once we hit that curve, we’ll blow up!
29. Philz Coffee
A coffee brand that Bay Area engineers and investors drink because Starbucks is too mainstream. They think they’re consuming premium beans, when really it’s all based on multi-bean combinations that no one in their right mind can tell the difference between. Because they secretly know this they ask if you’d like cream and sugar (aka Philz Way).
Jimmy: Can I try your Ambarosia?
Jack: Sure, try my Tesora.
Jimmy: Wow I taste a more buttery aftertaste in yours.
Jack: Woah is that a hint of Blueberry.
Cindy: You guys are both full of s–t. They taste exactly the same. This is Philz Coffee, not Blue Bottle.
When you mix your typical engineer with your typical frat boy. The official heuristic to identify a brogrammer in your organisation is when you can’t tell whether the suspect is part of your engineering team or your sales team.
David: I originally thought Kilim was a programmer but he’s been popping his collar and talking a lot. Is he a brogrammer?
A startup valued at $US10 billion or more
Kilim: It sucks that my startup is only a unicorn. Look at Snapchat. They are a decacorn.
32. Brain Rape
Acquisition talk thinly disguised as an intellectual property robbery. Usually committed by a big company on a startup.
Erlich: They’re brainraping us right?
Gerald: They definitely are.
When a startup is bought with the sole purpose of hiring the startup’s employees versus obtaining the product/users. Generally, startups that get acquhired are struggling and the move is done as a last resort.
Alex: I heard your startup got acquired by Facebook. Give me some of that startup money.
John: It was an acquihire. I don’t want to talk about it.
34. Resting and vesting
When you have equity in a company that hasn’t fully vested yet and stay at the company even though you have no real role there.
Matthew: Why are you on the roof park all the time, aren’t you the VP of marketing?
Hemant: Yes but that’s just a title. I’m really resting and vesting.
A strategy used by startups to make money by shoving as many people through the top of a funnel as possible and hoping some of them convert into paid users.
Matthew: Right now we have a shitty product that nobody will pay for. Lets release it for free so at least somebody will use it and then we can gradually improve it and charge them for extra services.
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