In 1988 I was in college and desperately wanted to run
some kind of multitasking OS on my own hardware. These were the dark days before Linux and FreeBSD. I had an
account on the university Vax system but it was slow and
I didn't have any privs to speak of. My first hope was
for a Microvax but they were $15k. I ended up scrounging
up a 286 system and installing SCO Xenix on it.
Xenix was a 16 bit port of AT&T's Unix and did the job. I loaded
up my box with memory, serial ports, two modems and a
serial terminal. I was in heaven.
I wanted to connect to the campus network via uucp and so
my computer needed a name. I christened it 'blekko', how
I came up with this I have no idea but I liked the sound
of it. Thus was born my first "net" address, blekko.uucp.
So 'blekko', while it may sound like a weird Web 2.0
name actually pre-dates the existence of the web. :-)
Now when Mike
and I were setting up the new company we got to a point
with the lawyers where they needed a name to proceed with
the incorporation of the company. I didn't want to pick a
name then, names are a big deal and you should put a lot of
thought into them. So to put off the decision we decided
to call the company "BX10.net". This was an inside joke
based on one of our colo server names. But the main idea was
that there was no way we'd ever launch with that, so it
would usefully serve as a placeholder name but force us
to change it later.
Well the state of California rejected our incorp under
that name. Apparently there is a BX11, Inc. and they said
"BX10" was too close. So in the interest of forging ahead
with the company creation I fished out all the names I
had in my domain account and sent them over to Mike.
Mike orderded the list by the ones he thought were funniest
and sent them off to the lawyers to try, in order, until
one worked. Blekko was the first name and went through.
Now I still think that it's important to put more than five
minutes of thought into a company name. Especially if
the five minute's worth of thought yields "I would never
use that name, are you insane?" But the reactions we've
had have been ... interesting. Folks definitely love it
or hate it. I actually score hate ahead of indifference;
provoking a strong emotional response, even a negative one,
helps the name stick in people's heads. :-)
One vendor we were talking to earnestly told us the name
was fantastic and we must never change it. I'm not sure
if he was pulling my leg though.
We've actually spoken to some naming/branding firms... I
had always figured that investing more than $14.95 in a
corporate identity made sense for a multimillion dollar
startup effort... I mean you put millions of dollars into
your coders and your ops, but you're going to settle for
some name that happened to be free on Go Daddy?
The naming experts have had some interesting comments.
They said phonetically 'blekko' wasn't bad. It's unique,
staccato, memorable, and short. It does have some
unpleasant phonetic associations. But they said mainly
it was an "empty vessel" name. Meaning simply that the
name doesn't suggest any idea in the mind of the person
hearing it. It's an empty vessel that marketing would
have to fill with a particular brand meaning.
We're still undecided on whether 'blekko' will actually
be the launch name or if we will come up with something
else. But I have to say the TechCrunch/Techmeme/Digg press
and reaction have provided some fascinating test-marketing
feedback. You can't pay for this stuff... and since it
will be a little while before we launch anything, if we
go with a different name later, it won't be a big deal to
change it then.
I wonder what the name inspector
would make of 'blekko'...
The Name Inspector reviews 'blekko'. He doesn't seem to like it. Although there is this curious comment at the end of the article:
But you’re in stealth mode. The Name Inspector believes you have no intention of launching as Blekko. Though he hopes he’s wrong.
Does that mean that he does want us to launch as 'blekko'? Hmmm....