Tech terms we should leave in 2015

3 Jan, 2016

By the time this is published, that tan you spent so long cultivating over the holidays will probably have faded. You’ll have rethought a couple of your New Year’s Resolutions, and losing track of what day it is will have been replaced with living for the weekend. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to make some serious changes – starting with the six tech terms we should leave in 2015.

1. Unicorns

For those not in the know, a unicorn is a technology start-up valued at more than US$1-billion. They got the name because they’re about as rare as actual unicorns. Thing is, as the hunger for tech investments has grown, so has the number of unicorns. According to Forbes, there are now more than 80 unicorns. Moreover, 2014 saw almost twice as many billion-dollar exits (32) as 2013 (17). Granted, that’s still not many, but it’s pretty far off from the number of actual unicorns roaming the world, which is zero.

2. Growth hacking
Growth hacking, as Wikipedia notes, is a marketing technique “developed by technology startups which use creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure”. Think Dropbox giving free storage to people who referred friends, or Uber’s give US$10, get US$10 promotions. When it was just edgy startups using the term, it was exciting. But these days too many big corporates use it as an excuse not to drop budget on marketing.

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3. Crushing it
This isn’t strictly a tech term, but it’s one that’s become adopted by brogrammers (programmers who like to pump iron and engage in overtly macho behaviour). It’s also highly annoying and frequently applied to tasks which genuinely don’t require “crushing”.

4. The Uber of X
If you spend enough time at start-up pitching competitions, you’ll often hear people describe themselves as “The Uber of stamp collecting”, or whatever it is they do. However useful it might seem as a descriptor, it’s just plain lazy. You know who gets to call themselves the Uber of anything? Uber. That’s who.

5. Disruptive technology
As with many of the terms on this list, disruptive technology was really meaningful when it first appeared. It spoke to how things like Google News or Uber forced entire industries to adapt fast or die faster. But with overuse, it’s become practically meaningless. If your technology is marginally cheaper, but otherwise more or less the same as your competitors, then it’s really not disruptive. Not even remotely.

6. Ideation
If you want to be the subject of your office buzzword bingo pool, then use this word. Otherwise just say “let’s come up with some ideas for how we’re going to tackle x or y”. Everyone will understand what you mean and you’ll look a lot less like a complete tool.