Mike Arrington is the lawyer-turned-blogger-and-entrepreneur whose TechCrunch has become the Web site of choice for people attempting to keep up with the cornucopia of startup companies pouring onto the Internet under the Web 2.0 banner.
The amazing thing to me about Arrington is this: He somehow keeps the names of these companies straight.
A post a little while back, for instance, contains this sentence:
“Noam Lovinsky is the founder of Skobee, a new service to help people plan events. They seem to be a direct competitor to Renkoo.”
Skobee? Renkoo? Is Mr. Mxyzptlk in the house?
Chant them urgently, and you might find yourself conjuring a Morgul spell. [All names verbatim from the last couple months of TechCrunch.]
I remember when Yahoo launched (yes, I’m becoming a Net codger), thinking, “Boy, that’s an odd name to try to build a company around.” What I saw over the ensuing years was that it doesn’t much matter what you name a company as long as the brand is strong enough — people will just project the qualities they associate with you onto the name.
For that to work, however, you need users — a lot of users — so that you can fill the random syllables with meaning. That’s much harder in today’s overpopulated Web 2.0 scrum, full of hard-to-distinguish competitors featuring similar two-syllable names, curvy cornered designs, and rounded fonts.
I realize that many of these names are chosen out of desperation, since all domain names that actually communicate meaning have been squatted upon by speculators. And if your business is really all about adding a feature or two to the Great Big Web Application In the Sky (or, I guess one should say, Cloud), then your end-game plan is to be acquired by some large company that already has a meaningful brand and intends to toss yours in the garbage anyway — so why waste too much thought on your name?
Still, Web 2.0 sometimes seems in imminent danger of collapsing in a heap of cutesiness, obscurity and alphabetical anarchy.
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