Business Buzzwords & Jargon 2015

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Our roundup from last year proved to be fairly prescient; two of the words on the list – wantrepreneur and ganjapreneur – exploded in usage this year. The former, because of a gloomy point we’ll get to in a moment, and the latter because of the continuing legalization of marijuana.

This year’s list doesn’t bode well for the economic outlook; it includes several words that one would only use if they were talking like they still have money when they are in fact bleeding cash like a…like a…crap. I don’t have a witty simile for you there. That’s probably because we’re running out of ideas, too. Hollywood is recycling and reversioning everything, and most tech “innovation” the past year or so has really been a clever repackaging of existing ideas.

This is nowhere more evident than with…

Uber of X
This is the tendency to base a business model entirely on the Uber model, but delivering some other product or service. Examples being startups like Homejoy, Handybook, HouseCall, and Handii for professional home services, or Eaze, Canary, and Meadow for marijuana delivery. Like, if you sell potatoes, you could make it a lot sexier if you say “we’re the Uber of Tubers”.

This makes necessary the term…

This is the strategy of reducing company assets to near-zero, cleverly getting a bunch of people to use their personal assets to serve your company’s needs, and then tapping venture capitalists for billions to float the whole thing until it catches up with itself and collapses.

Which it will; you may have read recently about the anticipation of the next tech bubble, and the cute name they have for companies that are overvalued by spin and venture capital.

The term is:

A term coined by Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee in 2013, because it wasn’t needed before then. Generically, it means a start up valued at one billion dollars or more. But it also implies a company that no-one in their right mind would invest in for the long haul, like Snapchat, Dropbox, or Groupon.

Customer Interaction, Marketing, and Advertising

If you haven’t heard of UX/UI  by now, you probably need to get out more. But there’s a new kid on the block, and it’s Customer eXperience. This is sort of like “cloud computing”, in the sense that it takes something you do anyway and gives it a fancy name so you can sell it. Then you can do things like “customer journey mapping”.

Conversation Marketing
The term “content marketing” was so feeble that it fizzled out in less than a year or so. So now we’re talking about “conversation marketing”, because, you know, talking about a product has never meant talking about a product, right? It’s a term that comes in quite handy if you’re in the business of marketing marketing, though, and will give you a chance to talk about vapid topics like the “customer journey mapping” mentioned above.

A term coined by Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert meaning “accidental plagiarism”. Which is essentially how 90% of all web articles and content sites are created. It was an accident, you see?

Native Advertising
No, this isn’t a reference to the 450 companies that still use Native American stereotypes to promote their business. They used to call this “buying influence” or simply, “lying”. It’s when ads are crafted to look like the content in which they were inserted, which sounds a lot nicer when you call it “Native Advertising”.

Unless you have an adblocker activated, here’s an example of some automated native advertising:

Bursting Your Bubble

Tough economic times call for soft, fluffy words. And 2015 has popularized a few. Terms like “pink slip” have been around for decades, so new terminology is needed for every economic collapse. Fortunately, most people in HR actually have writing degrees and ended up in HR by accident, so there’s no shortage of gentle ways to say “crap we’re all broke and unemployed suddenly!”

Psychic Income
The way you kid yourself that your feeble pay is okay, because your work is so rewarding. It’s sort of like “social currency”, except even more abstract. And a clearer indication that you have no friends.

A “touchy-feely” management style practiced in people-oriented companies. Especially ones that offer crappy compensation.

What you do when you can’t actually afford to outsource, instead of filing for bankruptcy. Hey. It’s worth a shot, right?

A great name to use while you’re doing the above, so your staff doesn’t feel like you’re treating them like a Philippine call center. No, they’re (mumblesomething)preneurs!

Ramen Profitable
A business that makes just enough money to cover basic living expenses, such as toilet paper, running water and ramen.

Mushroom Management
A management technique that keeps employees in the dark. Which is how you keep a company afloat until you can sell it for pennies on the dollar, or divest your personal liabilities (read: sell the yacht) before filing bankruptcy papers.

One of the hip new euphemisms for “firing people”.

Carpool Tunnel Syndrome
What, people still carpool? No, but they will after the next tech bubble. This refers to the semi-conscious state that is the result of repeated early morning ride sharing.

The sport jacket your staff throws on when meeting new account prospects to give the impression that someone in this place actually works for a living. Also, the worn-out jacket you wear to hundreds of interviews after the bubble.

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