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What is in the Name

How some of the most famous online companies got their names.

Shakespeare had said, “What is in the name…”, We at Radio 4 are trying to decode this question as we bring to you some of the most popular online companies who came up with wacky names for their products, that we consume on a daily basis, but didn’t know how they came about.

 

1. Wikipedia: Comes from the words 'Wiki', meaning quick, and 'Encyclopedia'

This vast storehouse of information gets its name from the two words 'Wiki' and 'Encyclopedia'. 'Wiki' is a Hawaiian word meaning quick, and also refers to a simplification of the process of creating HTML pages combined with a system that records each individual change that occurs over time.

 

2. Twitter: Came from looking for a word that sounded like 'Twitch'

Originally, the people who started the team used the name 'stat.us'. When it came time to put the product out however, they decided on the word 'Twitch', referring to the way a cell phone vibrates in the pocket. Though they liked the feeling of the word, they didn't like how it sounded. A small perusal through a dictionary helped them land on the word Twitter. The definition was "a short burst of inconsequential information," and "chirps from birds." And that’s exactly what the product was.

 

3. Reddit: It's a combination of the words 'Read' and 'It'

This website, where community users submit content that is heavily moderated to ensure prime quality, has a name which is stupidly simple. It's a play on the words "Read it", such as someone saying "I read it on Reddit.”

 

 4. Google: It's a play on the word 'googol,' the mathematical term for 1 followed by 100 zeros

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the two founders of Google based the name on the word 'googol'. 'Googol' is a mathematical term denoting 1 followed by a 100 zeros. Fun fact, the word 'googol' was actually coined by a 9 year old named Milton Sirotta, nephew of the American mathematician Edward Kasner.

 

5. YouTube: Refers to a TV, or 'the tube' where you can play whatever you want

There's not much official information about the etymology of Youtube, probably because it's not that difficult a name to figure out. A TV is also referred to as 'the tube' in several places, and the 'you' implies that you're in charge of whatever plays.

 

6. 9Gag: The name came about as the original site only had 9 posts per page

When Ray Chan and 4 other started 9Gag, It was meant as a side project and was sort of a resume builder. At the time, it only had around 9 posts, or 'gags' per page, effectively giving it the name 9Gag. Now however, it has an endless stream of posts.

  

7. Flipkart: The "Flip" comes from 'flipping pages' and 'kart' denotes shopping

When Sachin and Binny Bansal started Flipkart, it functioned as a book retailer/e-tailer. The 'flip' referred to flipping through pages in your book, and the 'Kart' obviously referred to buying books. Basically, it created an immediate association with buying books.

 

8. Ebay: Was shortened from the original company name EchoBay

Pierre Omidyar, who started Ebay, originally planned to call his computer consulting company EchoBay. In fact, the first item sold on his site was a broken laser point pen. When he tried to buy the domain name however, he found that Echobay was already taken, and thus shortened it to the word Ebay.

  

9. Instagram: This is a combination of the words 'instant camera' and 'telegram'

According to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, they wanted to combine the feeling of 'right here, right now' along with the basic idea of recording a part of your life. Combining the words 'instant camera' and 'telegram' did the trick.

  

10. Facebook: Derived from the books issued at Harvard to help students identify each other

In American colleges, they usually have a system of publishing yearbooks. In Harvard however, they issue books at the start of the year with the intention of helping students get to know each other better, known as Facebooks. The Facemash program Mark Zuckerberg originally created finally evolved into this.

 

11. Tumblr: Derived from the word 'tumbleblogs'

According to founder David Karp, at the time Tumblr was starting, a kind of blog known as tumbleblog was becoming very popular. These blogs focused on shorter stream-of-consciousness posts, often with mixed media and this is where the initial inspiration for Tumblr came from.

 

12. Pinterest: Originally called 'Pin Board'

Co-founder Ben Silbermann's wife came up with the name 'Pinterest'. The original version of Pinterest was actually called 'Pin Board', and is what inspired Ben's wife to come up with the name. A Pin Board full of things that Interest you!

 

13. Flickr: Because Flicker.com was taken

According to the people who run the website, they liked the word 'flicker', because it brings to mind exactly what it's supposed to, namely screens and images. But then when they checked, flicker.com was taken, they as adamant that they were, they stuck to a name that sounded similar but spelt differently.

 

14. Amazon: Because it would appear on top in alphabetical listings

According to Jeff Bezos, the website was originally supposed to be called 'Cadabra'. However, one of Jeff's lawyers mistakenly heard it pronounced 'cadaver', a situation Jeff wanted to avoid a 2nd time, thereby changing the name to Amazon, to suggest the size as well as stay on top of alphabetical website listings.

 

15. Yahoo: Chose the name as it means 'rude and uncouth'

The two founders, David Filo and Jerry Yang, started the website as a simple collection of websites they found interesting. In fact, it was originally called 'Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web', but they later went with 'Yahoo', adding an exclamation at the end to avoid domain name clashes. It actually stands for 'Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.'