You know the phrases: upside potential, limited downside, repositioning, and so on. But what do venture capitalists mean when they describe their portfolio companies in such words? At last the secret's out. An anonymous British VC has compiled a glossary. Among its entries:

What they say . . .
Product's 90% complete

Leading-edge technology

Limited downside

Possibility of shortfall

Proven technology

We're repositioning the company

Upside potential

* * *

What they mean . . .

We've got a name for it

We can't make it work

Things can't get much worse

We're 50% below plan

It nearly worked once before

We're lost
It's stopped breathing