Naming fad visualized: Did Spotify start it?

Originally published Jul 26, 2013

Back in 2011 The Name Inspector wrote a post about the proliferation of startup names that make creative use of the suffix -ify, such as Spotify. At the time he deemed the trend “disturbifying”, identifying about a dozen and a half examples.

Those were simpler times. If The Name Inspector had realized, in all his innocence, just how deep this rabbit hole goes, he might have chosen to live with his comfortable illusions.

But let’s face it: The Name Inspector is a red pill kinda guy. So he kept saving new examples of -ify names on his Pinterest “Wall of Namifying” until he had over 80 examples…and then sort of got distracted by other things.

But then the Wall Street Journal contacted The Name Inspector for this article on startup names, and the Pinterest board came up, and the reporter wanted to know if The Name Inspector thought the namifying trend could be blamed on Spotify, and he got interested all over again. So he decided to get to the bottom of things.

By rounding up all the -ify names in CrunchBase and making note of when each company was founded, The Name Inspector got the big picture. And he realized it called for nothing less than an infographic.

The snazzy chart here–which you can see in a full-sized PDF version by clicking on the image–doesn’t prove that the namifying trend has been created by Spotify wannabes, but it does offer some pretty strong circumstantial evidence. There are 187 names from CrunchBase that use the ending -ify in new ways, and more than 90% of them were introduced after Spotify was founded in 2006.

But why blame it on Spotify rather than one of the pre-2006 names? Because the popular music-streaming service has achieved success on such a large scale, having been included on Business Insider’s list of top private tech companies for 2011 and 2012, at #19 and #15, respectively. And those are also the years when the number of -ify names took off into the stratosphere.

Something is afoot, and The Name Inspector thinks it might be an unruly herd of copycats. Watch your step, entrepreneurs!

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