Jef Lippiatt
Jef Lippiatt Owner at Startup Chucktown


What is the difference between hype and speculation?

This is a question I've been thinking about a lot recently. I believe there is more than a context difference but I do believe the words have some overlapping territory. However, "hype" seems to have a more negative connotation than "speculation". You may come across these terms frequently in the financial and stock markets. I have noticed that these were are popping up with more frequency specifically relating to startups.

I'm interested in hearing the community views on "hype" vs. "speculation". 

Top voted answer
Steve Osborne

Steve Osborne, director at

Top 10% Branding

Jef, my view of a generally accepted definition of the two phenomena is this:

Hype – self-serving and self-generated. Meaning, anything paid for or instigated by the business (PR, advertorial, advertising, some aspects of social media) in support of quickly enhancing the entity's reputation

Speculation – comment or opinion from a third party source. Meaning, column inches or social media at arm's length. The outcome is often the same as for hype, but I think the difference lies in who did it or how it came about.

Someone within an organisation may well "speculate" about an event concerning the same organisation, but as soon as they publish, it is by definition, "hype."

Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

Thanks, this is a great answer. I appreciate your thoughts.
Yee Trinh

Yee Trinh, Cofounder at

Top 10% Market Research

The term "hype" suggests one's success is a temporary spike purely due to herd behaviour rather than being derived from the performance of the actual product itself.

"Speculation" on the other hand, although also an aggregate of opinions, is based on educated opinions gathered from the evaluation of the contributing factors to a product's potential performance. There is a basis to their opinions rather than simple "bandwagoning".

Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

I would somewhat agree with your definitions, but I feel like there are still problems with that approach. Investors speculate the worth of startup companies all the time. What worries me with that approach is that they infuse money into a budding company and suddenly the company has an outlandish valuation, let's say 1 billion dollars. The problem with this is many times the new venture doesn't even have incoming revenue or even a path to profitability. Many times these companies sputter out after only several months to a year. I feel that this creates a very volatile economy and business environment.