Wired Epicenter blog

September 4, 2007

Wakoopa, Frengo, Squidoo: Are Stupid Startup Names Hurting Silicon Valley?

By Bryan Gardiner

The search for a unique corporate name and identity may be backfiring in the Silicon Valley, according to an amusing article in last week's Los Angeles Times. Wakoopa, Frengo, Squidoo or Meebo all might be acceptable if they were exceptions to the rule. But when every startup in the Valley begins opting for whimsy (and a non-stop barrage of vowels) for their handles instead of, well, making sense, the results can be less than desirable.

"Naming a company is like naming a celebrity," serial entrepreneur Jared Kopf told the L.A. Times, adding that "made-up words don't come with psychological baggage." While that may be true, naming experts say we're fast approaching the tipping point for goofy naming schemes as more and more companies opt for names that sound more like the utterances of constipated toddlers than legitimate businesses.

"Now it's almost like fashion styles, all these vowels and unpronounceable made-up names," said Steve Manning, managing director of Igor, a naming company in San Francisco. "You cannot possibly remember one from another." Trying to be unique is one thing, but if we're at a point where potential multimillion-dollar investors can confuse Imeem with Imbee, that certainly spells trouble.