Google and the "stupid name startup" rollercoaster

Google has no doubt revolutionised how we use the Internet. We don't bother typing anything into the address bar anymore, and many of us don't use their favourites/bookmarks as much as they should do.

Nothing personal against Sclipo; it's just an example
Google has no doubt revolutionised how we use the Internet. We don't bother typing anything into the address bar anymore, and many of us don't use their favourites/bookmarks as much as they should do. Nowadays, we load up our browser and search for everything we need. Because Google UK is my homepage, I find myself just typing "news", hitting the Tab key twice and it gets me straight to where I want to be - the BBC News website.

For a start, Google should be seen as "the mother of all start-ups", considering it started as a research project. It's now worth roughly $25 billion, which isn't bad for two pre-middle aged men. But think simply, why is it called Google? There is a reason to it, and it's not a particularly stupid name if you think about it.

A googol is a number 1 followed by one-hundred zero's, 10100, or ten duotrigintillion. It looks a little bit like this, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was a rough estimate to how much Eric and Sergey earn in a year:


It's called "Google" as a spin-off from the "googol"; presumably but never confirmed, because they hoped to index the entire Internet, which could well reach this number one day. It's become so popular, the word "google" has become a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary.

In hindsight, "Google" is a clever, well thought of name. "Twitter", "Bebo" and even "Yahoo!", however, are stupid, stupid names. The only difference between these stupid names and the stupid names of other companies, is that these have actually gone somewhere.

After attending the Student Technology Day, the talk on web startup's really got me thinking; any student could use their entrepreneurial skills and start something. Use the web to your advantage and start something amazing. But then again, most web startup's fail within 18 months of starting up. It's not fair and it's not nice, but it's most certainly true.

This article really kicked me into writing this post because of the sheer audacity that these companies have, as if it's some strange arrogance they have, that they can call themselves a stupid name and think they can get somewhere with it. I'm not the only one either. There are about a dozen noticeable names out there on the blogosphere who feel the same, as well as our sister website, TechRepublic, and can feel the detriment they're having on other startup's; dare I say it, the entire web.

With names such as Thoof, Yoono and Zlio; it's utter madness. I don't even know how to pronounce the last one, and I know how to pronounce my friend's name Djijiliji. A good example is Thoof. It started with the best of intentions, but funny how it collapsed into a massive electronic heap only a few months afterwards. I blame the name.

I'll give you another example. The picture to the right of this,

Your guess is as good as mine,
I simply don't know what it says. Is that an "n" or a complicated "i"? Is it two of the letter "i", in which case it's not even slightly grammatically correct? It's far too confusing, and confusing means people will lose interest very quickly, and probably not even look at the damn thing.

The fact of the matter is, if a startup has a name which can't be pronounced, understood, spelt or has to be explained every time you say it, it won't catch on. Names which are sound onomatopoeic like "boing" and "doink" may work, but more often than not, it won't be understood. Words which have been made up out of thin air, often won't stick in someone's mind. Also, try not to pick a name which might mean something like "monkey penis" in another language. Windows Vista had that problem (if someone can find a link, ping me).

There are always exceptions to the rule; Twitter, Bebo, Google and Digg, but these have been round for a long while and won't be going anywhere soon... well, Twitter might be, if it can finally work out how to make money out of their pointless website.


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