How Great Companies Picked Their Names

By Carleigh Lowe Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Open Forum publishes smart, interesting articles about an array of small business-related topics. Below is an excerpt of an article in which the origins of sixteen great company names are discussed. 

Anyone who's ever had to form a company can sympathize with how difficult it can be to create a company name that is descriptive yet unique.

However, some companies have gone a less-traditional route and used some pretty unique naming conventions.
Here are some examples of interesting company names and the backstories behind them.

1. Google

The name started as a joke about the amount of information the search engine could search, or a "Googol" of information. (A googol is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros.) When founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin gave a presentation to an angel investor, they received a check made out to "Google."

2. Hotmail

Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith had the idea of checking their email via a web interface, and tried to find a name that ended in "mail." They finally settled on Hotmail because it had the letters "html," referencing the HTML programming language used to help create the product.

3. Volkswagen

Volkswagen literally means "people's car." Adolf Hitler initially came up with the idea for "cars for the masses," which would be a state-sponsored Volkswagen program. Hitler wanted to create a more affordable car that was able to transport two adults and three children at speeds of 62 mph. He choose the car manufacturer Porsche to carry out the project, and the rest, as they say, is history.
 

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