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What’s in a name?


What’s in a name?

My name is Mark Brewer and I’m the President and CEO of Typesafe. Today I have the privilege of sharing an exciting new project we are just beginning here at Typesafe: renaming the company.

Why now? In recent years, we’ve seen exponentially increasing interest in Typesafe technologies like Play, Akka, Slick and Apache Spark in production by developers and organizations programming in Java. While Scala continues to see such rapid adoption that it is now far bigger than Typesafe, we have recognized the demand for us to embrace more than the Scala ecosystem alone.

The typical process most companies go through with renaming is to decide on a name and then suddenly pull back the curtain to share the shiny results. Our company believes strongly in open source so we believe that a level of openness is natural in this case. We wanted to open up this important project to our community—both to ensure it is clear why we’ve chosen to rename the company, and to make the process we are following as transparent as possible.

The genesis of the Typesafe name

When I was first considering joining Typesafe in early 2012, one of the initial questions I asked was about the origins of the company name. Not being a developer, I wasn’t familiar with the concept of type safety. Once Martin Odersky (creator of Scala and Co-Founder of Typesafe) explained it to me, it made total sense why the company was called Typesafe. Developers—the users of our software—appreciated its meaning and the focus that it implied for the company: building and supporting the software that Scala developers relied on for its power, flexibility, and type safety.

So why change our name?

Most companies make a name change for one of four reasons:

1. Merger or acquisition
2. Tarnished name
3. Change in strategy
4. Name is misleading

We are changing the name for a combination of the last two reasons.

We have embraced a movement in the market whereby developers build and deploy applications differently than the monolithic legacy of Java EE + Spring. This way of building applications is defined in the Reactive Manifesto, spearheaded by Jonas Bonér (Co-Founder and CTO) almost two years ago. Our participation in and leadership of the Reactive systems movement has caused us to broaden our company strategy. While Scala is at our core, we are developing a reputation for our expertise beyond Scala.

More and more we are seen as the Reactive Company and yet our name does not speak to this aspect of our mission. In fact, the Typesafe name may be confusing since it refers to Scala, but Reactive includes other programming languages as well. The name is frequently misspelled and while we are light-hearted about meeting invitations and company bios that read TypeSafe or Type Safe (at best), we’ve seen more than the occasional “Typeface” sent our way.

Who is Typesafe today?

We have four key technologies that we develop and support—Scala, Akka, Play and Apache Spark. We deliver them individually and as a combined platform—the Reactive Platform. These technologies are built with Scala, yet they all support Java as a language. Today it’s fair to say that we have contributed to making Scala bigger than our company, while growing in parallel to become more than the “Scala company.”

Renaming as an open process

Our company was built on open source principles—free-to-use software with as few restrictions as possible, where feedback and contributions from community members are welcomed. As we considered how to best generate a new name, we felt that in order to stay true to open source principles, the project should be as open as possible.

Our name change process will take the better part of the next two months. It is being led by a group made up of non-managerial individuals within Typesafe and we’ve enlisted the help of New Kind—a branding firm with deep roots in the open source movement—to help facilitate the process. A group member will share the progress via this blog on a regular basis over the next two months.

In the end, I am learning that there is more than meets the eye where naming is concerned, and renaming is possibly one of the most difficult undertakings a young company could embark upon. I look forward to your continued support as we share this exciting journey with you.

Throughout this process if you have feedback or questions you can contact me directly via or

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