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Book Review: Michael Moe’s The Global Silicon Valley Handbook

Best-selling author Michael Moe of GSV Capital is out with a new book. So, how is it?

It can’t be understated just how transformative the digital revolution has been for the world, and the fact that it’s occurred in such a relatively short period of time in human history makes it that much more remarkable. By any measure—economic, cultural, behavioral—the shift has been absolutely seismic, and the pace of growth seems to only be accelerating.

The epicenter of these shockwaves of innovation has undoubtedly been Silicon Valley, which was originally a nickname for a small geographic area in Northern California that was (and still is) home to some of the most promising and influential technology companies the world has ever seen. But just as those companies’ products and services have become ubiquitous in people’s daily lives, so too has the Silicon moniker. From offshoots like Silicon Beach (Los Angeles) to Silicon Alley (New York) to Silicon Roundabout (London) to… Zhongguancun (China), it’s clear that the name Silicon Valley no longer describes a local form, but rather something more resembling that of a cloud, if you will. A giant, global cloud.

In his upcoming book The Global SILICON VALLEY Handbook, venture capitalist Michael Moe says, “Silicon Valley is not just about bits, bytes and chips. It’s a mindset of innovation, growth and entrepreneurship.” Moe would know. As the co-founder of GSV Asset Management and co-founder, CEO and CIO of GSV Capital, he’s invested in some of the biggest startup names in tech. Facebook (FB), TrueCar (TRUE), Coursera, Lyft and yes, even Snap, Inc. (SNAP), are just a few examples. But he’s also a best-selling author, with books such as Finding the Next Starbucks: How to Identify and Invest in the Hot Stocks of Tomorrow (2006) and 2020 Vision: a History of the Future (2015). You can also read his weekly insights at, which is syndicated here on Equities.

In his latest book, Moe takes readers on a 50-city tour of the hottest startup capitals around the world—starting from the San Francisco Bay Area to Austin, Texas, globetrotting to Paris, Japan, Mumbai, Moscow and Johannesburg. He’s sort of like the Anthony Bourdain of entrepreneurs and investors. In between, the GSV Handbook (yes, GSV stands for Global Silicon Valley) breaks down everything a person needs to know to operate appropriately in each of these tech markets, such as how to dress, the do’s and don’ts in various social situations, where to network, who to talk to, and what to say. Generously sprinkled throughout the GSV Handbook are compelling nuggets of historic statistics, amusing anecdotes and witty inside jokes.

From The Global Silicon Valley Handbook

That’s what makes the GSV Handbook interminably enjoyable. It’s just a really fun read, and the learning never really stops. You can read a preview of it here: Buy My Book: Global Silicon Valley Handbook.

Moe’s tone and casual wisdom dropping is delivered in a very light and irreverent manner. What’s more, GSV Handbook is not so much a book as it is a visual smorgasbord of infographics, charts, graphs and photos, all threaded together with his writing. It’s evident that GSV Handbook was created with the modern reader in mind. It’s also easy to refer back to for specific information, which is essential if it really is intended to be used as a handbook for a jet-setting founder or VC in need of a quick refresher on handling their surroundings. As an example, here is how Moe opens his section for Silicon Valley:

One Tesla goes by. Then another. Then another, except this one has a bumper sticker with “My other car is autonomous but I never drive it” written on it. Then Mark Zuckerberg appears, walking with his Philz with one hand and collecting every Facebook search from his over 1.6 billion monthly active users in the other. Welcome to the Silicon Valley.

From The Global Silicon Valley Handbook (Click to Enlarge)

There’s also his section on “How Venture Capital Works”, which starts out:

Venture capitalists (VCs) are people, too—most of them anyway. And as such, while insanely ambitious, competitive, and hopefully intelligent, just like anyone else, they aren’t looking for more work to do.
A blind business plan hurled over the e-mail transom has as much chance of being read as an e-mail starting out with “Dear Sir or Madam.” A top VC might receive 500 to 1,000 emails a day, so cluttering up the inbox without an edge is only making you the enemy of the assistant whose job it is to delete e-mails. You might think you have the best idea since Travis hitched a ride on Uber, but without a warm introduction from a trusted person in their network, your idea will die an anonymous death.

In just 11 short paragraphs, Moe jams a lot of meaningful advice into the section, challenging the reader to focus and deliver concisely their pitch in order to maximize their rare opportunities. He closes the section as such:

After going through your presentation, don’t overstay your welcome. Make sure you give the impression that you are tight on time and you are on your way to your next meeting, whether you are or you aren’t. Back to VCs are people, too—they want something that others want or can’t have. The harder you are to get now, the more they will want you. We just solved all your dating problems, too.

In writing GSV Handbook, it seems Moe took that advice to heart, as the book certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome and definitely leaves you wanting more.

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