VORP: An acronym for “value over replacement player.” Coined by baseball statistician Keith Woolner circa 2001 as a way to measure “how much a hitter contributes offensively or how much a pitcher contributes to his team in comparison to a fictitious ‘replacement player,’ who is an average fielder at his position and a below average hitter” (definition source: Wikipedia).
In the years since Woolner invented VORP, the term has been adopted by tech startups as a means of grading employees, writes Dan Lyons in Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble, a memoir published earlier this month. Lyons, who had been laid off at 52 from a reporting job at Newsweek, considered himself lucky to be hired as a “marketing fellow” by a 10-year-old Boston company called HubSpot, which sells “software that lets companies, most of them small businesses like pool installers and flower shops, sell more stuff.” (The company line, writes Lyons: “Our spam is not spam. In fact it is the opposite of spam. It’s antispam. It’s a shield against spam—a spam condom. HubSpot has even created a promotional campaign, with T-shirts that say make love not spam.”) Lyons had spent most of his career writing about technology, and knew nothing about marketing. Still, he needed a job and prided himself on being a quick study. Besides, as he writes in a New York Times op-ed: “I thought working at a start-up would be great. The perks! The cool offices!”