Disruption. There are conferences, newsletters, books and podcasts about that word, trying to capitalize on our cultural obsession with shaking up the status quo. The term "disruption" has become so overused as a proxy for a "cool Silicon Valley idea" that it's become cliche. But truly disruptive companies are as powerful as ever, challenging established industries or building entirely new ones. And executing a truly disruptive idea may actually be more possible than ever, thanks to the advent of new tools for entrepreneurs.
The fact that the idea of disruption has become so ubiquitous is actually a good thing, said Greylock Partners' Jerry Chen: "I think it does create this spirit or aspiration of what start-ups should shoot for."
Kleiner Perkins' Eric Feng also said he loves the word: "It's synonymous for us with innovation. If there's something worth inventing, you're probably solving a problem that a lot of people wanted to solve, so you have to go after and disrupt the incumbent."
Y Combinator partner Dalton Caldwell, a former serial entrepreneur, avoids the word. "It's possible after the fact to see that something's disruptive, but it's really hard to do on purpose. ... It can sometimes lead you in the wrong direction," he said.