I realized last week how many corporate names have interesting origins – either in literature or in ancient Greek or Roman mythology.
Oracle – a US tech firm based in Redwood Shores, California chose the name Oracle for itself (from 1977 to 1983 it was called Relational Software, Inc.). An oracle is a priest or a priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from the gods in classical antiquity. It has also come to mean a person or thing regarded as an infallible authority or guide.
Gilead Sciences – is the name of a pharmaceutical company located in Foster City, California. In biblical times, Gilead was a mountainous region of ancient Palestine, east of the Jordan River. It is also the name of a Jewish tribe in the Genesis.
Amazon – The largest online retailer is named after the mythological (Greek) race of female warriors as well as the largest river in the world. With all that backing no wonder it’s the largest online retailer in the world.
Adobe – the pdf company is from San Jose, California. The word adobe is one that I came across in Art History recently (which triggered this blog!!) when we were studying the Great Mosque in Djenne, Mali. The mosque was made of a material called adobe which is a combination of clay and straw which is mixed together and then dried in the sun. The company however was named after a creek that ran close to the founder’s house.
Aetna – This is an insurance company that was founded in 1850. The company was named after an active volcanic Mount Etna in Sicily. In Greek and Romany mythology Aetna was the Sicilian nymph, and the mountain in Sicily was named after her.
Hermes – founded in 1837, Hermes is a leading French luxury goods retailer. In Greek mythology, Hermes was a God associated with speed and good luck. He served as a messenger for Zeus and the other gods, He is also a patron of travelers, writers, athletes, merchants, thieves, and orators. In Roman mythology Hermes was known as Mercury.
Nike – Founded in 1964 in Beaverton, Oregon, Nike is most famous for its shoes, but also sells athletic apparel and equipment. The company has a very well-known symbol “the swoosh.” Nike takes its name from Nike, the Greek winged goddess of victory.
Starbucks – this coffee company that we all know and love was founded in Seattle in 1971. The name Starbucks is inspired by the character in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Starbuck is the first mate of the ship Pequod and is the voice of reason on the ship. According to Starbucks, the name evokes the romance of the high seas and the seafaring tradition of the early coffee traders.