September 11, 2015 by Rebekah Newman
I’ve been doing some research on the latest technology companies. Every time I turn around someone is telling me about a new one. I hear about them while I wait in line at the grocery, when I talk to my accountant, at flag football practice with my son. It’s an emotional struggle between love and hate when someone, anyone, tells me about a new technology. I LOVE hearing about a new venture. I HATE that I didn’t know about it first.
I always make a note of the new name and look them up later. So, yesterday, after writing down 6 new names… 6!… I decided to do a little research and get ahead of the curve.
In the process, I discovered that to catch back up, I might need to take a Buzz Words 101 language class. Every new business has a brief description containing 6+ buzz words. I can reread what they do 3 times and still not know… what they do.
Consider CartoDB. This is a nifty little company that just received a bunch-o funding from 5 different venture groups. Well, of course they did! Who wouldn’t give 31 Mil to a company that will “Extract insights of your location data and create amazing data-driven customized visualizations?” Say what?
If we subtract prepositions, articles and pronouns (and I think most English teachers would agree we should), that sentence only has 9 words, 6 of which could be considered buzz words. A ratio of 6/9 buzz words to real words seems a teensy-bit excessive, Carto.
There is also FundBox who managed to impress 16 investors with their ability to “Leverage deep-data analytics to accelerate cash-flow and clear invoices for small businesses.” That’s an even better 6/8 ratio which earned them 19 million more than CartoDB in venture capital. Not bad! I found these numbers on CrunchBase, who, by the way, only has a ratio of 4/8 in their description. I don’t know if you can successfully be a “leading platform to discover innovation” with that ratio.
CrunchBase didn’t think so either and yesterday announced they are working on a term sheet with a venture firm to become the “definitive database of the startup ecosystem.” That’s a much better 3/4 ratio and they believe it will help them raise between and 5 and 7 million in venture funds.
Isn’t the whole point of a buzz word to get your attention? To make you stop and say, “Whoa, did you hear a bee? I could be allergic. I better pay close attention.” When you fill the entire sentence with buzz words, the listener instead should be saying “Oh crap! Did you hear a swarm of bees? I would love to hear what you have to say, but I should probably run away as fast as possible.”
“Not so!” say the brave, epi-pen carrying, Venture Capitalists. They appear to gather and chant in unison, “Bring on the bees!” Venture Funds everywhere are rolling up million dollar bills to throw at tiny bee heads.
Up next is Orchard Platform who is a “Technology and infrastructure provider for marketplace lending.” That’s a 5/5 ratio! Well done Orchard, I see bright things in your future!