Here’s How 8 Leading Tech Companies Got Their Utterly Weird Names


 Weird names abound in the tech world and though we utter many of them on a daily basis (some have become verbs, no less), the fact remains that a good chunk of them make very little sense. We decided to do some digging to find out how some of the most famous tech entities in the world got their utterly familiar yet strange names. 

1. Google

The search giant was founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in 1998. While they were searching for a suitable name for it, they stumbled upon the word ‘Googol’, which means a hundred zeroes after one, coined by a mathematician Milton Sirotta. Some claim that it was later changed to Google for a better sound, but some employees say that the teller at the bank didn’t know how to spell Googol and ran with his best guess—Google. Since this was the cheque for company formalities and registration, the name stuck. Oh, by the way, the company was originally named BackRub by Brin and Page!

2. Twitter

Members of the podcasting company Odeo came up with a project idea while brainstorming. They named the initial project Twttr based on the SMS short codes and later changed it to Twitter. The word meant “a short burst of inconsequential information” or “chirping of birds”, which was perfect for a social network based on thoughts expressed in under 140 characters. That’s why we see that blue bird chirping everywhere around us on the internet. Twitter celebrated its 10th birthday recently.


Tinder is a remarkably unromantic name for a dating app, but they weren’t being wilfully contrarian. The company started off with the name Matchbox, but this didn’t ‘strike’ the right chord. The company’s founders wanted to stick with the fire theme to suggest sparks between two people, so they trawled through the thesaurus and the word ‘tinder’ sent their hearts aflutter. They thought the name might get confused with ‘tender’ but they didn’t mind that.

4. Siri

The popular voice assistant which is present in almost every iPhone was a separate app once. It was a spin-off product from SRI (Stanford Research Institute). The founders wanted something simple and Siri sounded a lot like SRI. In addition, Dag Kittlaus, the CEO who is of Scandinavian origin wanted to name his child Siri once. In Norse, ‘Siri’ Means a beautiful woman who leads you to victory. Siri also means ‘secret’ in Swahili, which was a nod to the company’s former monicker—

5. Facebook

In 2003 while studying at Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg hacked into the university’s database and got the students’ IDs and Photographs. He used it to make a ‘Hot or Not’ type of website. The university didn’t have an official resource containing all the names and information of the students. So, Zuckerberg decided to name it ‘Freshman Facebook’ initially. In 2004, tweaked it and launched it as ‘,’ later dropping the article ‘the’ and acquiring a new domain.

6. Zomato

The Indian restaurant listing and search company was started in 2008 as Foodiebay. Deepinder Goyal and Pankaj Chaddah started the website to upload menus of restaurants, and in 2010, the company started to build a smartphone app for restaurant reviews and menus. And since it rhymed with ‘tomato’ the company was renamed as Zomato while launching the mobile app.


What’s up with that green little robot we see on the most popular mobile operating system? The word first appeared in the 1860s to denote small automatons and was later used in sci-fi movies for human-like robots. In 2003, Andy Rubin set up his company to build the mobile operating system which was later acquired by Google.

8. Instagram

The famous photo-sharing app that has seen more pictures of cappuccinos and sunsets than should be legal started its journey under the name Burbn. Kevin Systorm, co-founder and the CEO, picked this name because it sounded like bourbon, one of his favourite alcoholic drinks. Now, this app was very similar to FourSquare, but the check-ins were not as popular as photo sharing. So the company pivoted the product to make it a full-fledged photo sharing app. When they wanted to pick a name Systorm wanted something which suggested ‘right here right now’. And thus Instagram was born.





Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.



Observer News Service

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.