Apple, Hulu, Etsy: How famous tech companies got their names

The tech world is known for creativity that sometimes borders on wackiness -- and that is often first noticed in a company's name. From Hulu to Zillow, from Apple to Verizon, and every Yahoo, Flickr, and Twitter in between, there is a story behind the name. Here's a look at some of the most prolific tech companies today and how they ended up with their names.

1. Google


Google is so ubiquitous online that its name has become a verb. But would the Internet’s most popular search engine have found the same success if it were called “BackRub”?

"Hm. I don't know the answer. I'll BackRub it."

According to a close friend of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the pair and a few of their friends were sitting in the computer science building at Stanford University brainstorming potential names for their service. At the time, they had called the search engine “BackRub,” because it would analyze the Web’s “back links.” But it was clear they were in need of a better name (with less intimate connotations) and something that conveyed the large amounts of data they were hoping to index.

A friend, Sean Anderson, suggested “Googolplex," the term for a number with a googol zeros behind it (a googol is a number with 100 zeros behind it). Mr. Page shortened it to “Googol.” Mr. Anderson, who wasn’t the greatest speller, searched domain name registries for “Google.” It was available, and a few hours later, the domain name “” was registered.

1 of 17