I really need to be better about posting here. It's been too long and I have a lot of things to report.
My latest update is that I posted a response to Don Dodge's latest blog post: http://dondodge.typepad.com/the_next_big_thing/2012/03/why-company-names-urls-dont-matter.html#idc-cover
I posted this morning and didn't see it go live yet (it could be waiting for approval - I'm not sure). I made tweaks to my draft on his site when I submitted, so I don't have the full copy unfortunately (lesson learned - I will cut and paste moving forward), but here is the draft response, edited as much as I remember.
Actually, after doing a bit of research (about 15 minutes on the Web), those names did have some meaning and a story around their creation:
- Alta Vista – Latin – high view or view from the top of something (their original logo was of a mountain – so you are searching as if you were a vista point. This is from memory from long ago.)
- Napster – based on the haircut of one of the founders. It was catchy and stuck. http://www.techno360.in/origin-of-the-names-of-famous-brands/
- Cisco – short for San Francisco, where they were founded. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisco_Systems#1984.E2.80.931990:_early_years
- Google – based on the googol – a type of number with many zeros implying the amount of results you can get. Someone did a typo while searching. This is why Google appealed to the techies at first. http://graphics.stanford.edu/~dk/google_name_origin.html
- Zappos – from zapatos for shoes (this one is obvious and doesn't need a link)
- Yahoo – it's an acronym made up by the founders - http://docs.yahoo.com/info/misc/history.html
- Zynga - name of one of the co-founders dogs (why the logo is a dog - originally it was Presidio Media) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zynga#History
As an aside - there has been psychology research completed on how names influence individual personalities.