Silicon Valley’s Least Favourite Buzzwords

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Buzzwords typically faucet into the cultural zeitgeist of a time, connecting to tendencies or new applied sciences that really feel particularly related for the second. They’re standard, and in that sense highly effective, even when there’s not a robust connection between their usefulness and their reputation. Even worse, many buzzwords turn out to be cliche and over-used, shedding their preliminary energy and changing into downright annoying. With its infinite stream of investor pitches and firm pep talks, Silicon Valley is overrun with buzzwords.

Working in tech forces you to remain one step forward of the sport and, as a author, you have to know when a phrase falls out of favor. After I’m not writing or answering emails, I spend most of my days in conferences speaking and listening about enterprise and tech, which forces me to take discover of the ebb and movement of standard jargon. Importantly, I discover which phrases individuals are not utilizing anymore or actively avoiding for varied causes.

My very own need to grasp which buzzwords to banish led me to gather Silicon Valley’s least favourite buzzwords. After talking with a couple of dozen entrepreneurs, technologists, writers and , I discovered that there are 4 phrases that got here up probably the most once I requested the query: What are your least favourite startup-related buzzwords?

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I keep in mind being in faculty describing an app I used to be engaged on to my father. He interrupted me, saying, “Don’t name it a platform. If all the things is a platform, then the phrase is meaningless. Be particular with what your product is.”

In all places you look, a startup is describing itself as some sort of “platform.” Because of its ubiquitousness, no one actually is aware of what the phrase means anymore. In the event you inform me that you simply run a mental-health platform, I’ll have a obscure thought of what you might be speaking about, however I’ll don’t know of what your organization really does. 

The explanation for this confusion is that “platform” is more and more misused within the and the enterprise world at giant. I might enterprise to say that 90% of the entrepreneurs who describe their firms or merchandise as “platforms” are simply utilizing it as a catch-all time period. Right now, the time period is as obscure as it’s within the bodily world; nearly any construction could be a platform, and the identical is true in tech.


Some would argue that “synergy” was already a disliked relic of the Nineteen Nineties, but it surely has made a comeback in recent times. It’s successfully simply the buzzword equal of collaboration, teamwork, a suggestion of partnership or, for the lecturers and philosophers amongst us, a dialectic. Nevertheless, like a whole lot of enterprise jargon, it’s meant to mix the meanings of a number of phrases into a fast, simply digestible, attention-grabbing time period. Sadly, when folks throw synergy into conversations with out it actually enhancing their message in any substantive means, it comes off as a obscure phrase used lazily to precise an curiosity in collaboration. 


Although all 4 of those phrases should not well-liked in Silicon Valley, “paradigm” could be probably the most hated. It’s normally used within the context of a “paradigm shift,” indicating that an organization, product, service or particular person can result in widespread change to current processes, beliefs or programs. “Paradigm” grew to become the dramatic buzzword that enthusiastic entrepreneurs and techies have used (and overused) to explain the capability to result in Earth-shattering enhancements to issues that now we have come to simply accept as regular as a result of most early builders imagine they’ll be capable of change the world. 

The vitriol towards “paradigm” and “paradigm shift” possible stems from their affiliation with hyperbole. The reality is that the majority companies, merchandise, companies or people is not going to drastically change life as we all know it. 

The subsequent time somebody involves you to speak about an organization that desires to create a “paradigm shift” of their business, ask them to get particular. Execution is all the things, and paradigm shifters are few and much between.


Among the many professionals with whom I spoke, “paradigm shift” and “disruption” have been typically lumped collectively as probably the most disliked phrases. It is because they typically level to comparable intentions. If somebody needs you to imagine that their firm goes to essentially change the best way one thing is completed and fully outsmart the giants of the tech business, that’s high quality and effectively, however you need to purpose to make use of descriptors that depart the listening occasion pondering you’ve a game-changer. Because the builder, it’s greatest to not really say it your self.

If you begin to hear or learn this time period in each pitch, PR marketing campaign and even employees assembly, it begins to lose its luster. Not all the things could be a disruption to the established order. There’s a cause the established order exists — as a result of it’s notoriously tough to disrupt. For each actual disruption in Silicon Valley (and the tech business extra broadly), there are a thousand wannabe disruptors ready within the wings. 

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In a the place a brand new billion-dollar thought is born weekly, it may be simple to get overzealous with empty phrases that are supposed to entice, excite and seize folks’s consideration. Buzzwords are an addicting shortcut, however after some time, listening to the identical catchphrases in each pitch, crew assembly or interview can get actually previous.

Sounding out of contact and outdated is a sure-fire solution to lose credibility within the always evolving world of tech. Be particular with what you’re saying, and be intentional with the phrases you select. 

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