Here’s a naming trend that snuck up on me: names that substitute Y for I. Sometimes the Y stands in for short I, as in Glympse; sometimes it’s pronounced like long I, as in Mynd. The trend is most noticeable among technology startups, but I’ve seen it in retail names, too.
Why have so many companies gotten Y’s? I’m tempted to point to Skype, the voice-over-IP service that was founded in 2003 and acquired eight years later by Microsoft for $8.5 billion. But Skype isn’t an example of letter substitution; the name is said to be a contraction of “sky peer to peer.” And another Y name, Swype, is a year older than Skype.
It’s possible we’re seeing the shadow of Y Combinator, the “seed accelerator” (venture-capital-firm-plus-incubator) founded in 2005. (The firm was named after the higher-order mathematical function.) Sneak in an orthographic homage to your patron? Y not?
Then again, the letter Y has intrinsic graphic appeal. It can resemble a fork in the road, a champagne glass, or a stick figure with outstretched arms.
And let’s not overlook Lazy Domain Syndrome, best summarized as “We couldn’t get a dot-com domain with the dictionary spelling, so we jury-rigged it.” With varying degrees of success, as these 10 names prove.