ZoomInfo’s headquarters in Massachusetts, U.S
Recently there has been a fashion for elision in company names. When DiscoverOrg bought Zoom Information, it became ZoomInfo © Scott Eisen/Bloomberg

Lex’s name does not tell you what this column does. We therefore have something in common with Silicon Valley businesses. Think of Google, Zynga, and Yahoo. As Lex approaches its 75th birthday, it is perhaps time for us to catch up with the latest trend among start-ups: functional names.

Nonsense words and “creative” misspellings are falling out of favour, according to an annual Crunchbase survey of more than 1,000 recently founded and funded start-ups in English-speaking countries. Literal names are taking their place. Digg and Fiverr are out. Wardrobe is in. 

Naming a company (or a column) should be done with an eye to attracting customers and investors. You can name a business after yourself. But this seems egotistical, particularly if it generates a list of surnames longer than a Wall Street law firm. Using a descriptive name is a simple alternative — although a lot of these are taken. Alternative spellings solve the problem. Names like Unbxd and Grindr also tended to have a .com domain name available. Sadly, Lx.com is already spoken for.

The trend for dropped vowels seems to have passed. So is using y, ly and ify suffixes. So rebranding Lex as Snarkly is out. More recently there has been a fashion for elision. When DiscoverOrg bought Zoom Information, it became ZoomInfo. 

A new utilitarianism is reflected in the name of Wardrobe. This states the mission of the clothing rental company, while handily implying it supersedes all rivals. Lex might thus become “Investment Column”.

The problem is to stand out. In the fourth quarter of 2019, 266,000 new US businesses set up, according to Statista data. That compares with 193,000 in the same period of 2010. Deals backed by venture capital are on the rise.

Here, Lex can relax. The number of daily financial columns created each year is vanishingly small. Moreover, stick at a thing for long enough and your abstruse name (in our case, originally a spin on Lex Mercatorum or “Merchants’ Law”) should cease to perplex and simply stretch to fit you. Ask Google.

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