Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Startup Names (Paul Graham)

Startup Names (Paul Graham): Paul Graham makes a good case for why it's the new cool thing to give your startup a funky name. Domain name squatters, he argues, have taken so many names that if you do end up with a name that was obviously bought back from one of them, it gives the impression that you have more money than brains. Not a good way for a startup to appear. Nothing could be less cool, at this point, than calling a startup "cool.com." A company with a name like that could not have arisen organically. "Cool.com" smells of a media conglomerate trying to create a web spinoff.


He provides a rough list of the sort of names to look for, in rough order:

  • Cool words that refer to what the company does, ala Writely.
  • Just plain cool words. Del.icio.us.
  • Mediocre but not actively repulsive, because if you make something good, its name will start to seem pleasing. He gives Reddit as an example because you can say, "I read it on reddit."
  • Can be used as a verb. Textpayme being a good example.

He likes Infogami, from which the article comes, but does not like Wufoo (although he likes the idea and the founders, just not the name). Since both of these seem to fit the "just plain cool words" rule, there's obviously room for personal interpretation.



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