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10 new words you need to know in Silicon Valley

Mike Elgan | Oct. 13, 2015
As the pace of technology accelerates, so does the rate of new coinages.

Cheapskate travelers, including me, learned that fares change over time, while airlines try to optimize their revenue through dynamic pricing. The idea behind dynamic pricing is to reel in suckers with a high initial ticket price, but lower the price as the departure date draws near. As the plane fills up and seats become scarce, they jack up the prices again as demand outstrips limited supply.

The art of striking at the ideal moment is called farecasting, a portmanteau combining fare and forecasting, coined by the startup Farecast, which was acquired by Microsoft in 2008 and which Microsoft terminated last year. The company is dead, but the word is in ascendance.

5. Inculator

In the world of high-tech startups, there are startup incubators and startup accelerators.

A startup incubator provides management support and office space and other business resources for new companies trying to get off the ground. AngelPad is the biggest incubator in Silicon Valley.

An accelerator has a tighter, shorter-term focus. The idea is to rapidly build a business in a few months, if not weeks, so that the company can succeed or crash quickly without too great of a loss. Accelerators offer mentorship for developing ideas and business plans, and provide an infusion of cash and employees, so that the company can function on its own quickly -- or fail fast. Y Combinator is the top accelerator in the valley.

The new word inculator is, of course, a portmanteau of incubator and accelerator. An inculator is an accelerator that takes more time to develop ideas and build a business. They're accelerators such as Nine Plus, whose services aren't nearly as accelerated as they might because they feel entrepreneurs need more mentoring time -- typically about nine months.

6. Lookupable

This word was apparently coined by Wordnik founder Erin McKean. Wordnik is a dictionary for words that aren't in the dictionary. Her vision is to make all words "lookupable," even if they haven't yet been accepted by the major dictionaries, such as the New Oxford American Dictionary, which McKean edited for two decades.

7. Phubbing

The rude practice of paying attention to a phone during a face-to-face conversation with someone is called "phubbing," a portmanteau of phone and snubbing.

This can involve looking at or responding to an incoming message -- or to the "art" of maintaining a conversation without taking one's eyes off one's phone.

8. Procrastatweeting

Using Twitter instead of doing whatever you're supposed to be doing is "procrastatweeting." It's good form to use it as a hashtag: #ProcrastaTweeting.

9. Quinquagintacorn

A "quinquagintacorn" is a startup worth $50 billion or more. The only startup to achieve quinquagintacorn status is Uber, which completed a funding round in July that valued the company at around $51 billion -- which is why such a startup is also called an "ubercorn."


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