Sep 08

1. How to name your startup?
It seems to me that few syllables (typically 2) are usually much better performing names (with several exceptions though) than others. My personal theory is that it is about rhythm and pronunciation energy.

2. Company names examples with:
1 syllable: Bing, Ask, Xing, Ning, Dell, Skype, Slide, Yelp, Ford
2 syllables: Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Paypal, Facebook, Quora, Zynga, Youtube, Baidu, Blogger, WordPress, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Flickr, Apple, CNet, Tumblr, TwitPic, Reddit, Netflix, SourceForge, Techcrunch, Hulu,, Scribd*, Tesla, Samsung, DropBox,  AdGrok, Brushes, FanVibe, Gantto, GazeHawk, HipMunk, OhLife, TeeVox
3 syllables: Amazon, LiveJournal, GoDaddy, Mozilla, Mashable, Toyota, Microsoft
4 syllables: Hewlett Packard, Mitsubishi, StumbleUpon
5 syllables: Wikipedia

3. Impact on naming for investors?
I believe naming is so important that even (super) angels, venture capitalists and other investors should weigh this heavily when investing in startups (just take a look at your existing portfolio with Syllable glasses), this belief is backed by Alexa top 500 list[1]. See also 5.

4. How to find a name?
My recommendation is to running a mapreduce where each mappers creates a huge amount of random words or permutations of characters and create a scoring function in the reducer that scores up word with syllables, vowel density, pronouncability and scores down existing names (or domain names) (seed it with a list of brand names) and other unwanted words.

5. Predictions about last batch of Ycombinator companies[2]
a) Predicted 8 best investments from last yc demo day (i.e. have 2 syllables):
AdGrok – online marketing for the  masses
Brushes – premiere illustrations with iPad
FanVibe – sports social network
Gantto – project management service
GazeHawk – eye tracking for everyone
Hipmunk – flight search
OhLife – personal journal
Teevox – turns mobile devices into remotes for the Internet

6. Conclusion
It will be interesting to see how the 8 ycombinator startups above – viewed as a fund – perform e.g. relative to the famous new angel funds[3,4]. Perhaps creating a syllable-based index fund could be a thought?

[3] 500 Startups
[4] Felicis Ventures
(* unsure about pronunciation of Scribd)

Atbrox on LinkedIn

Best regards,

Amund Tveit, co-founder of Atbrox

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2 Responses to “Predicting Startup Performance with Syllables”

  1. Technology By Day » Predicting Startup Performance with Syllables Says:

    […] more here: Predicting Startup Performance with Syllables Tags: belief, believe-naming, existing, heavily, investors, investors-should, startups, […]

  2. Quora Says:

    “Most of Alexa top 50 sites have two syllables in the domain name.” How important is it to have a two-syllable domain name?…

    related blog post –¬†…

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