No one really knows, for certain, why startup founders choose such terrible names for their companies. Is it because of the plethora of irony-loving millennials at the helm of these companies? Or, is it because it’s so difficult to find a good domain name that hasn’t already been taken? Regardless of the reason, let’s have a laugh at their expense.
Here are 15 of the silliest, oddest, weirdest, and just-plain-dumbest startup names we’ve seen. Let’s count them down.
Dogpile began in 1996 and quickly rose to popularity in the dot-com era for its ability to run searches across multiple search engines and “fetch” the best results. By some miracle of internet technology, the site is still around.
A dogpile is supposed to reference a children’s game where players pile on each other, attempting to crush the people on the bottom — kind of morbid really. As a dog owner myself, the term dogpile can mean something else entirely.
Fashism was a web and mobile app that allowed users to solicit feedback from peers about their fashion choices and style. Users uploaded a photo of their outfit and other users could vote yes or no, in hopes of saving the uploader from a fashion faux-pas.
Bad enough that it was backed by Ashton Kutcher, the company’s name was an obvious play on the term fascism, which might have sadly been lost on its younger fanbase.
LicketyShip began in 2006 as a delivery service for ecommerce purchases. The concept was that items would be delivered within four hours of users completing the checkout process. The idea was a novel one, but it was a logistical nightmare.
Investors kicked out the original CEO for taking too long to deliver results and the company fizzled out shortly afterwards.
Gravee (obvious misspelling of Gravy) is a social search engine that shares ad revenue with content producers that appear in their search results. They were eventually acquired by Symptomatica, a health search engine with almost as bad a name as Gravee.
What on earth does a Thanksgiving staple have to do with search queries? Maybe there is some contrived connection between sharing food at the dinner table, but it is lost on me.
ipipi.com is a web service that allows users to send text messages from their computers to someone’s cell phone, for a cost. The service is provided by Upside Wireless, and refers to itself as ipipi, the service on its site.
I’m not sure if the name refers to an IP address, or if it is pronounced like “i-Pipi.” Nevertheless, it doesn’t give you a clear idea of what the service does.
Xobni, pronounced ZOB-NEE, is an add-on service that provides analytics and other tools for programs like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail. The company was started in an MIT dorm room and has received backing from Y Combinator and other investors.
Xobni is the word “inbox” backwards, so it’s easy to understand why the founders chose it as a name; but it’s not easy to get the concept at first. That doesn’t seem to be slowing the company down, though, as they have been lauded by Bill Gates.
Fairtilizer launched as a music company that provided an embeddable player for independent music artists to share their music across platforms. Artists could use the service to distribute music across social media sites, blogs, and even digital music stores like iTunes.
The company saw the writing on the walls and eventually rebranded as official.fm. Because, while fertilizer does help things to grow, it is still made of manure.
Joomla is a popular CMS that is used to build websites and web apps. They have clients such as Harvard University, MTV Networks, and Citibank. The name sounds like the nightmare that would be created by a room full of people doing Zumba while wearing JOOP! cologne.
Joomla is one of the rare cases where a bad name didn’t spell demise for the company. They launched in 2005 and they are still going, so they must be doing something right.
7. Fwix (now radius)
Fwix started as a local-focused news aggregator. They later rebranded as Radius to provide salespeople with hyperlocal data they need to target specific areas. Users can connect with their Salesforce account and provide targeted leads to their salespeople.
Aside from the fact that Fwix is nearly impossible to pronounce, it doesn’t stand for anything either. It might have been redeemable if it was an acronym, but pivoting to Radius was a good move.
Cuil, pronounced “cool,” launched in 2008 with the claim that it could search more web pages than any other search engine. It was promptly shut down in 2010.
The company had a few former Google employees in their ranks, but they weren’t able to stay afloat. Maybe something is to be said about the detriment of having to constantly explain the pronunciation of your company’s name.
Jiglu is social business software that, according it its website, is about “connecting the right people with the right information.” The software was developed by a company called Dynamic Discovery Ltd, based in London.
The name is a combination of the words jigsaw and glue, and is meant to give customers the idea that the company is putting together a big picture with data. It sounds more like a support structure for building an igloo.
Thoof launched in the summer of 2007 and was barely a year old when it bit the dust. Thoof began with the intention of being the next big social news site, but they weren’t able to compete with the likes of sites such as Digg.
The main problems with the name are the fact that it is uneasy to pronounce, and it probably doesn’t mean anything. The former site URL now redirects to Reddit.
Doostang is a job search website that curates job searches for users. The company does not accept job postings from agency recruiters and they offer every kind of job from internships to top-level management positions.
The only word combination that I can think of when I hear Doostang is doo-doo and mustang.
Profilactic was social news and aggregator site that referred to itself as a “digital lifestyle aggregator.” The goal of the site, and many others like it such as FriendFeed, was to bring all of your social profiles together in one place.
The name was a play on the term prophylactic, which simply means something to prevent disease, but is often synonymous with condoms or other types of birth control. I can just hear Beavis and Butthead chuckling in the background.
oooooc, pronounced Five-OC, is a social marketplace that refers to itself as a, “life-like market of user-generated content and services.”
This name is the epitome of startup pretension, the belief that people are just going to “get it” when no one really does.
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