Company names follow trends just as surely as baby names do. For a few years, a misguided belief in Google magic led to a spate of double-o names like Thoof, Snooth, and YooGuu. I’ve written more recently about an uptick in names that begin with Q.
Here’s another new trend: i-o suffixes.
Many of the new i-o names are in fact .io names whose domains were purchased through NIC.io, the registry for the British Indian Ocean Territory. (The territory comprises about 1,000 islands in the Indian Ocean, the largest of which is Diego Garcia—“a tropical, footprint-shaped coral atoll”—which is lovely to know but utterly irrelevant to the companies I’m talking about here.) An .io domain is more expensive than a .com or a .net—about $96 a year—but may be worth the extra expense if the domain you’re burning to own is otherwise unobtainable.
An .io suffix can open up an ocean of real-word names. Someone in Germany has registered Ontar.io (and may be selling it). A gentleman in Ann Arbor, Michigan, owns Stud.io (but it redirects to Shutterver.se, which uses the Swedish country domain). Pat.io is, naturally, taken. So are Adag.io and Arpegg.io.
Increasingly, though, .io is being used to create coined names. Here I-O may represent input/output, a term beloved of IT types. (i/o Ventures, in San Francisco, invests in early-stage technology companies; its domain is Ventures.io.)
Not all of the new eye-ohs depend on .io; some use the “traditional” .com domain. These names often sound like playfully retro slang, such as daddy-o (dadd.io is taken) or cheerio (cheer.io is taken).
My favorite I-O isn’t a tech company; it’s an Oregon winery, EIEIO & Company, that has an elegant logo and a domain worthy of Old MacDonald himself: onhisfarm.com.
Here are some other I-O names I’ve come across:
Card.io: Wouldn’t it be nice if this were a heart surgeon’s site? But no: it’s a service that allows mobile phones to accept credit-card payments.
Chart.io: “Google Analytics for your database.”
Class.io: “Helps teachers share course resources with students in a simple and direct way.”
Connex.io: “We provide you with a clean, complete, and up-to-date address book.” A side note: A few years ago I was hired to rename a company called Connex Technology. “Connex” was already so overused that the name completely lacked distinctiveness.
Fusion-io: “A pioneer of a new storage memory platform that significantly improves the processing capabilities within a data center…” etc., etc., etc. The company name—a .com, by the way—reads more like con-fusion: Why the hyphen? And how is the name pronounced?
Lendio: The new name (as of June 2, 2011) of Funding Universe. Helps small businesses find loans. Website copy is staggeringly wordy; the About page begins, “You can almost smell the entrepreneurial spirit when you walk into our office.” From I-O to P-U?
Nestio: “Making it easier to find a place to live.” If you’re in New York City, anyway.
Start.io: “Make a startpage with your favorite links and see right when they’re updated.” Why? I have no idea.
Yidio: My correspondent Andrea Behr notified me about this one. “TV for Jews?” she queried. You should live so long. From the About Us page: “Yidio (short for Your Internet Video) makes it easy to find, enjoy and watch more than a million episodes of TV shows on your laptop, TV, tablet or your mobile phone.” (If it’s Your Internet Video, shouldn’t it be spelled Yideo?) I was surprised to learn that the company’s been around since 2008. And in San Francisco! Go figure.