A few weeks ago, I touched on some of the differences between the Boston and New York tech startup scenes. Here's another: jargon. For whatever reason--more historically complex/serious/enterprise-focused industries, more of an "every man is his own island" attitude--in Boston, tech entrepreneurs tend to use everyday language.  Not so in New York, and from the scant time I've spent there, not so in Silicon Valley either. In these two tech towns, euphemisms rule. Cracking the code took me a little while, but thanks to a handful of tech blogs and Eric Ries' The Lean Startup, I think I've got it down. Disagree with any of my definitions/want to add a few of your own? Get @ me or leave 'em in the comments! Product: 

  • Stealth: Startup isn't exactly sure what it's doing yet
  • Beta: not ready for purchase
  • Private beta: really not ready for purchase
  • Closed alpha: Just past the napkin phase
  • Pivot: Founder's first idea didn't really pan out, so s/he's trying something else
  • Disruptive: 1) Startup is going to bat against the dinosaurs and steal their disgruntled customers 2) Fun word! Sounds impactful!
  • Leveraging ___: "using"
  • Solution: Hard-to-define software product
  • Viral growth model: No growth model
  • Viable marketplace: precedence for product's success


  • Ultra-light startup: NYC: 2 people in a living room. SV: 3 people in a coworking space
  • Lean startup: 1) Product will change, frequently. 2) Founder wants some SV cred 3) see Ultra Light Startup
  • Agile: Development team plans two weeks out
  • Hacker-culture: lots of developers; lots of toe sneakers; lots of standing desks
  • Flexible hours: 8am-7pm, 10am-12am, 3pm-2am
  • Collaborative: Employees work on the same project
  • Flat organization: 1) not big enough to need managers 2) "flat" is just another word for "hierarchical," but offices either have glass walls or there are no offices, only beanbags
  • Serial entrepreneur: 1) Short attention span (to put it euphemistically) 2) Acquisition is ultimate goal
  • Data-driven: Someone on the team knows how to use Google Analytics
  • Distributed: spread out


  • Bootstrapped: Startup is kept in rent and Sugar Smacks by founder's savings from previous job at Foursquare, Google, or McKinsey
  • Angel-backed: Startup is kept in rent and Sugar Smacks by founder's father's retired iBanker friend
  • Still in the Seed Stage: Startup hasn't raised any money yet
  • Stock Options: Thing startup founders offer to new employees in place of actual compensation