Startup names may have passed peak weirdness

Startups

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For years, decades even, startup names have been getting weirder. This isn’t a scientific verdict, but it is how things have seemed to someone who spends a lot of hours perusing this stuff.

Startups have had a long run of branding themselves with creative misspellings, animal names. human first names, made-up words, adverbs and other odd collections of letters. It’s gone on so long it now seems normal. Names like Google, Airbnb and Hulu, which sounded strange at first, are now part of our everyday vocabulary.

Over the past few quarters, however, a peculiar thing has been happening: Startup founders are choosing more conventional-sounding names.

“As we reach the edge of strangeness… they’re saying: ‘It’s too weird. I’m uncomfortable,’” said Athol Foden, president of Brighter Naming, a naming consultancy. While quirky startup monikers haven’t gone away, founders are increasingly comfortable with less-unusual-sounding choices.

Foden’s observations are reflected in our annual Crunchbase News survey of startup naming trends. We’re seeing a proliferation of startups choosing simple words that describe their businesses, including companies like Hitch, an app for long-distance car rides; Duffel, a trip-booking startup named after

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