informa
/
2 MIN READ
Commentary

Yahoo, YouTube, And The New XYZ's

More startups are coming out with names that are a jumble of vowels and consonants: Ooyala, Vysr, Zoosa, Zuora. If there's an art to naming a new company, we've entered the dissonance period.
More startups are coming out with names that are a jumble of vowels and consonants: Ooyala, Vysr, Zoosa, Zuora. If there's an art to naming a new company, we've entered the dissonance period.What's behind the trend toward difficult-to-spell, phonetically-challenged monikers? Don't blame Google; it's got the benefit of alliteration and the familiar "le" ending.

One thing that many newcomers have in common is that they're going off the deep end of the alphabet. Vysr, Wrike, Xeround, Xignite, Yammer, Zoosa, Zuora, and Zenoss stand at the end of the line during startup roll call. Maybe it's that Yahoo and YouTube made that a cool place to be.

An earlier generation of computer and software companies took on descriptive, even wholesome, names like Apple, Computer Associates, Tandem Computers, and Sun Microsystems. As an industry, though, we like brevity in our IT vendors, and three letter abbreviations in particular: AMD, APC, BEA, BMC, EMC, IBM, NEC, RSA, SAP, and SAS, for example. A few -- BT, CA, and HP -- get by with mere two-letter abbreviations, but they're the exceptions. As of yet, we don't have any tech companies that go by just a single letter or, like the artist formerly known as Prince, that have given up having any name at all.

Are tongue twisters a good strategy for startups? The logos do tend to look nice on T-shirts and Web sites. If potential customers have a hard time pronouncing or spelling those names, maybe it's worth the trade-off.

Of course, there's always Plan B -- changing a startup's name to something more conventional. As I noted earlier this year, some startups are making a second run at success with a new name, one typically involving an action word embedded in a compound construction.

Flypaper, Helpstream, Kickfire, and WaveMaker are taken. TryTryAgain, anyone?