With technology now an ever-present part of our lives, big tech companies have become household names all over the world. We tend to think that the companies have always gone by the monikers they have now, but you might be interested to know what some of these giants were first called.
When Snapchat was first released in July of 2011, the photo-sharing app was called Pictaboo. You might think the last syllable of that name explains the app’s mascot design, which resembles a cartoon ghost, but you’d be wrong: the mascot, called Ghostface Chillah was named after Ghostface Killah of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Snapchat was re-launched under its current name in September of 2011, and it’s been called that ever since.
When Yahoo was first created, it was an index of the favourite websites of one of its creators, Jerry Yang. Yang and his partner David Filo were both in their early 20’s when they started playing around with unusual homepages in the days before the internet became something accessible to almost everyone.
Yang’s index grew, and Yang and Filo decided to call it “Jerry’s guide to the world wide web”. Until 1995, that is, when Yahoo became one of the world’s biggest online portals under the new shorter and stickier name.
The South Korean electronics company was founded in 1958 in the aftermath of the Korean War, and went by the name GoldStar for quite a few years. After merging with sister company Lak-Hui (pronounced “lucky”), GoldStar became Lucky Goldstar, which eventually turned into LG.
The company that would eventually take Yahoo’s place as the most-used search engine on the internet was almost not called Google. In 1996, Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, were throwing around potential names for search engines before they even had a search engine to name. Looking for a name that would convey meaning without sacrificing fun, they settled on BackRub – because their programme analysed the web’s “back links” to understand how other sites related to a particular website, and to understand how important the website was.
Lucky for us, they started thinking of alternative names in 1997, and Google derived from googolplex (a googol is the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes, and a googolplex is the digit 1 followed by a googol zeroes), to illustrate how much data the search engine was indexing.