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Startups use trivial jargon to sound more important

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Internet startup culture has evolved and matured over the past five years, and there’s no better example of this than the RISE conference happening this week in Hong Kong. Whereas Silicon Valley was once the sole hub of internet innovation, startups here hail from Bangalore, Singapore, and other cities. The macho bravado many associate with the culture has even dampened somewhat—34% of attendees are women.

As startup culture has gone global and transcended stereotypes, though, one of its defining traits has stuck around. Startup jargon is alive and well, and it seems to be getting worse.

“Content.” “Platforms.” “Synergy.” “End-to-end.” “Solutions.” It’s nearly impossible to find a startup at the conference that doesn’t resort to jargon when describing itself.

These words sound technical and informed. But they mean nothing, and they make it difficult for ordinary people to understand what a company actually does. In an effort to either sound smart and attract investors, or to simply dress up an otherwise boring product, startups that rely too much on jargon end up alienating the users they want to attract.

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