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What’s in a name? Typesafe public renaming update (week 3)

It's been exciting times here at Typesafe.  In my four years here, we've grown as a company, and in a recent post by our President and CEO Mark Brewer, we announced that we've decided to change our company name to reflect our own internal changes. As a company dedicated to open source technologies, we thought it also made sense expose this journey to the community, and give regular updates during the process. But before I give you an update on the process, first I thought I'd describe why I joined Typesafe.

Why I joined Typesafe

I joined Typesafe for Scala. More than that, I joined Typesafe because I believed there were better models of computing than what was being used in the industry. At that time, the industry had mostly exhausted the design space of classical Object Oriented programming.  Personally, I had read the "Design Patterns" book by gang of four, studied architectural design, followed forums and threads and really learned as much as I could about how to design systems in the classical languages, C++ and Java. I had a deep love for the idea of the JVM and had built my career around it. I had also become deeply unsatisfied with where things stood in Java, and was looking for better and more efficient ways to write code.

I believed that we as an industry needed new ways of building software.  I found others like me at Typesafe.  Not only that, I felt at Typesafe we had the beginnings of something which could alter the software industry itself, even to the point of influencing a company as big as Google. In fact, I used to work at Google. It was my belief that could I accomplish more as a developer at Typesafe than I could at Google.

Fast forward to a few years at Typesafe.  We've watched Scala communities all over the world grow, learn and mature. During this time, lots of successful experiments have turned into production-ready components. The core community has moved beyond the learning phase and into mainstream industry adoption by companies like Walmart, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Walmart, The Guardian, Kifi, Tapad and many more.  We aren't talking about "how to adopt Scala" anymore, we're talking about "how to scale my organization".

Typesafe is now the company that helps other companies scale, both organizationally and architecturally.  We provide software, guidance and leadership around how to develop systems at large scale, and we provide tools for small software shops to grow into bigger ones. If you look at our product offerings, we do not sell a software package, but instead a Typesafe Project Success Subscription.  We believe that the software stack is nothing without a developer who understands how to use it.   Not only do we provide a powerful stack, but we help, encourage and teach developers how to tackle the hardest problems they face. We want to work with you on your awesome business problems, and we have a track record of seeing some really nifty ones.

My own hesitation

I thought I'd share my own thoughts and reservations when I heard about a Typesafe rename. Honestly, my first thought was "WAT?!”. I joined Typesafe because I believed in Scala and I love type safety. Why change the name?

Another misgiving I had was around the infrastructure and the number of places in code where "com.typesafe" was used. To assuage everyone's fears of a repeat of the `scala-tools.org` domain name shut-down, that will not happen. The domain typesafe.com will remain and the name will be slowly phased out, but existing URLs will continue to function as is, and no code should have to change (although new releases of software may stop using com.typesafe as an organizational package name).

What I’ve learned is that besides a few press misspellings of our name, it turns out that Typesafe's name appeals very strongly to developers, but not much beyond.  As a company, we want to reach the entire enterprise. While we do believe that good developers and good IT are core to almost all businesses out there, I've come to realize that Typesafe is about helping these companies achieve their own objectives.  It's our responsibility (and a frequently asked question) to help developers educate their managers on *why* our software, and our idioms are better than what they use today.  To do this, we need to reach beyond just developers, using a name that can scale.  

Some insight into the renaming process

As we look into renaming, we're focused on finding a name that entails the entirety of what we do. As a first step, we've been analyzing other business names in the industry, and why these names appeal to us.  In addition, we've been trying to define some core aspects of our company, and what we believe we do.

In evaluating our companies core aspects, we've been investigating the target audiences for a name, and the message we'd like to deliver, and common themes. We explored historical figures and why we appreciate what they did and what they accomplished.  I found out that James Roper likes to have apples dropped on his head, and rethinking how the world works.

During the next phase of our naming journey, we'll be isolating attributes of a new name, and selecting a few possibilities from here. We’ll begin the name generation process in earnest. I am looking forward to giving everyone another update soon, and see you all at Scala Days 2015.


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