When I look at tech company names, I often wonder how they came about. While some companies have some pretty interesting / cool backstories, there are others who make you wonder if they just used a random name generator.

So what about ours? Chrome River actually came about because “Green Walrus” was taken. Here’s the backstory.

When the company started back in 2007, our founders, Alan Rich and Dave Terry, wanted a very Web 2.0-type name, and the walrus is a beloved animal of Alan’s wife. We needed to pair it with a descriptor and a simple color seemed natural as ‘walrus’ was already unique enough. With that as our first step, we liked how the concepts of the walrus and the color green ‘felt,’ so we decided to go with Green Walrus. We even developed a logo for it.

GW_logo.pngOur initial domain searches uncovered the fact that was owned and we tried, but could not pry it from its owner. We looked at other colors of walruses, but nothing else decent was available as a domain or sounded right. So we moved on - a Violet or Mauve Walrus was just not going to work.

Again, we wanted a very Web 2.0-style name, instead of something stuffy and corporate like ‘Expense Data Solutions’ or ‘Expense Management Worldwide,’ but we also didn’t want to have some weird, oddly-concocted, made-up word like many start-ups were doing at the time.

While studying the Flex programming language and speaking with experts in that field, we learned that the fashionable word in tech circles for the UI components of an app was ‘chrome.’ Many of the Flex developers spoke of fluid and liquid interfaces, and how the newest technologies providing the ‘chrome’ of the apps were dramatically improving and changing the user experience. Alan and Dave immediately liked the word chrome, how it felt, and its implications.

We decided that ‘chrome’ was very good initially as it sounded techy, polished and seemed to envelop part of our original concept to deliver a dramatically different UI experience over the web. Thinking initially of our first product, we came up with Chrome Wallet but we later decided, knowing that we would have multiple products, to get a name that more generically encompassed the ‘chrome’ theme, and that ChromeWallet could someday be a specific product name. In fact, we purchased the ChromeWallet and a number of similar domains back in late February 2007.

Then we decided that names using places was also an interesting theme – Sierra, Peak, Valley, etc. There were several iterations of these and other forms of locations, until ultimately we landed on Chrome River. ‘River’ describing the fluidity of what we planned to deliver and how our apps ‘flow’ through an organization. That was it – Chrome River.

The rest, as the story goes, is history.



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