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Google made a game-changing announcement at GDC, but is Stadia a game-changing name?

As many of you know, I love games. I grew up playing both board games and video games, still love them both, and over the last few years have really gotten into both indie games and VR games. Since the Moscone Center is just a few blocks from my place, I usually pick up an EXPO pass for GDC so I can get a chance to walk around a bit, play some games, and chat with companies like Unity, Google, etc.

This year at GDC there’s a lot of buzz about all kinds of different things, Oculus released the Oculus Rift S, Unity announced a zillion things including some incredibly slick real time ray tracing, and Google is getting more buzz than they ever had at a gaming conference as they dive into the gaming world with Stadia.

morganlinton-google-stadia-gdc2019

Okay so before I dive into the name, I know most people have no idea what the heck Stadia is, so let me explain. Right now, if you want to play an awesome new game like Fortnite or APEX Legends you’ll need a kick-ass gaming PC to really get the best experience. For those who are in this wacky gaming world, you know that a kick-ass gaming PC costs $2,000+ and for those wondering, yes I built my own gaming PC and no, I’m never happy with it and always want to upgrade.

Google is taking an entirely new approach with Stadia by creating a gaming platform where the games are actually running on super fast computers at Google and streamed to gamers. This means that the speed of your computer really doesn’t matter, you just need a fast Internet connection. To demonstrate this, Google actually tried to find the slowest PC possible during their demo to highlight how powerful Stadia is…and it was damn impressive.

Seriously, a $500 PC can now play a networked game with the same settings that only a $4,000 gaming PC could normally support. While you can use your own controller with Stadia, Google is also releasing their own controller later this year, here’s what it’s going to look like:

stadia-controllerOkay, so now you have a rough idea of what Stadia is…now for the elephant in the room. What about the name? It didn’t take long for people to hop on Twitter to share their thoughts on the name and overall with many people commenting that it sounded like some new medication.

I have to agree, this was a bit of a head-scratcher for me. The domain name Stadia.com was originally bought for $3,601 back in 2010 but I haven’t done the research to see if it was Google that picked it up then or a private buyer who might have resold to Google more recently. Either way, IMHO it’s a pretty mediocre product name and it really doesn’t feel like a name for a gaming-related product or service.

When I think of popular gaming platforms, they all have pretty strong names – Steam, Discord, Twitch. Stadia just feels like it doesn’t fit in with the rest. Of course maybe I’m just being too critical, and let’s be honest, with the marketing machine that is Google behind it, they’ll be okay. I’m really excited about what they’re doing and will definitely be a Stadia customer myself so in this case product > name at least for me.

What do you think? Did Google pick a good name for their new gaming service? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Trying to name your startup? Here’s what one founder learned…182 bad names later

lessons-learned-startup-names

Tyler O’Briant, the co-founder of Kowalla wrote a great article about lessons learned from generating 182 bad startup names. The reality is, for any startup, coming up with a name is hard, and given that just about every name you can come up with is likely already taken, it’s probably harder than it has ever been.

While I don’t completely agree with Tyler’s entire article (sorry Tyler, you’re awesome and I like 98% of what you said!) there were some really solid words of wisdom that I think many founders can relate to.

Alec started working a demo he called “Actualizeur” earlier in the year. The name worked on a conceptual level. We wanted to build a place for people to actualize the projects in a community of like-minded builders. But it had it’s faults too. Mainly, I haven’t found anyone but Alec who could spell it correctly.

Actualiezer… Actualizr… Actualizer… Actualizur?

We launched into the process of finding a new name. We hoped to find another name-product match like we had with Actualizeur, but with a lower vowel-to-consonant ratio. (Source – ProductHunt)
The issue Tyler highlights here is a big one, and one that I think many people learn the hard way. When your name is a word that people might be able to guess how to spell…but you’ve spelled it in some weird way that only makes sense to you…that’s not a winning name.

The first startup I worked for (back when I was 15…yeah I’ve been in the startup world for a LONG time) was called Xaos Tools. Everyone I told our name to assumed it was spelled Chaos Tools…so literally, every single time I said our name, I would have to say, “Chaos Tools” but with an “X” to which I’d usually get a lot of confused looks and then I’d have to spell it out.

[ INSERT FACEPALM HERE ]

Another issue that Tyler highlights a really good idea that I think can help founders as they’re trying to land on a name:

Look to the fallen. CBInsights has been compiling postmortems of various failed startups since 2014. These post mortems are interesting reads, and while naming your startup they’ll help give you some insight into naming trends over the years. Kowalla’s name was actually inspired by Gowalla, a former Austin-based startup mentioned in this list. (Source – ProductHunt)
I highly recommend startups that are trying to figure out a good name read this article, it’s a good one. That being said, I did mention earlier above that I don’t agree with everything in the article. It’s really the end. Tyler ends by saying, “Then, buy the domain and build something great.”

This last sentence could be turned into an entire book. “Buying the domain,” is often a lot easier said than done. I wrote about this topic on Medium in a post titled, What Every Startup Founder Should Know About Buying Domain Names. Domain brokers like Media Options have also covered this topic in great detail. In short – it really isn’t as simple as coming up with a name and then just buying the domain.

Coming up with the name is freaking hard, so is buying the domain, it’s all hard, but as a startup founder hard is just par for the course. Thanks to Tyler for putting this article together, I really like it and it hit a lot of really good points that I think founders will enjoy now and for years to come.

What did you think of the article? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

I have decided to broker one, and only one domain name this year

As many of you know, I’m not a domain broker. In the past I have brokered a domain name here and there but for the most part I just buy and sell my own domains. Still, every once and a while I get connected up with someone that has a domain that is just so darn awesome that I can’t help myself. I don’t have a lot of additional bandwidth so when I do broker a domain, it’s just one domain, usually for the entire year.

This week a domain name crossed my path that is too good not to take on, so I’ve decided that in 2019 I will broker one, and only one domain name. At this point you’re probably wondering, okay, get to the point Morgan, what’s the name!?!?

chill

While the owner is in no rush to sell I am starting to field offers, this is a monster name and I am really looking forward to finding a company with a big enough idea and market to do it justice. There are many examples of companies that have acquired a one-word .COM and seen it as a massive game-changer for their business. Zoom recently acquired Zoom.com, and the story of the Candy.com sale at $3M is a great one, this turned out to be a small investment for the return it provided for the new owners.

If you are interested in this domain name or know someone who is please feel free to contact me directly. If you’ve been interested in me brokering a domain name, you’ll have to wait until 2020, 2019 is going to be a Chill year for me.

^