Waking up and seeing every page of Pando covered in Braintree ads this morning (the company is sponsoring our new My Big Break series), I thought two things, at roughly the same time.
The first: God, we need to figure out a better way of displaying ads on Pando. With so many banners being served all in the same place, some days our front page looks like a Geocities homepage circa 1996.
The second thought: GOD, “Braintree” is a horrible name for a company.
Now, to be clear, I like Braintree’s service a great deal, and not just because they’re apparently paying for my lunch. Although we use Stripe for our membership payments (a hangover from NSFWCORP), most CEOs and developers I speak to say they’re either using Braintree from the outset or are trying to figure out how to migrate.
Early on, Braintree suffered from a ludicrously complex registration process — I tried to sign up a couple of years ago at NSFWCORP but gave up when they forced me to print out forms so that we could accept Diners Club — because, after all, everyone pays for online subscriptions using Diners Club. But now they’ve taken a MVP-friendly leaf out of Stripe’s book, it’s clear that Braintree is far more robust than its major rival and, I’m told by people who use it, has way better customer service. That said, maybe I’m biased because of the whole lunch thing.
But still: That fucking name.
At a recent conference, I ran into a senior PayPal exec (PayPal bought Braintree last year). “You do realise that Braintree is the name of a place in the UK?” I asked. “And it’s a total shithole.”
The exec laughed: “Yeah, it’s worse than that — it’s also a place in Massachusetts, and that’s a shithole too. Braintree is named after two shitholes.”
Even if Braintree wasn’t a place name, it’s certainly not the name of a payments company. An education company, maybe. A horror movie, far more likely. But not a payments company.
And if none of that was reason enough to hate the name: Braintree doesn’t even own Braintree.com. At that URL visitors will find… not the homepage of Braintree in Essex… not even a tourist guide to Braintree, Mass… but a picture of a tree that looks a bit like a brain. I’m not making any of this up.
PayPal paid a reported $800m in cash for a company that doesn’t even own its own horror-movie-sounding, double-shithole-tribute domain name. Some would say that’s a testament to the idea that ultimately the name you pick doesn’t matter if your service or product is good enough. To which I would counter: “YOU HAVE EIGHT HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS. HOW MUCH WERE THEY ASKING?”
So… If anyone from Braintree is reading this, I propose a trade: I’ll see if anyone on our product team can come up with a better way to display your (and everyone else’s) ads on Pando… if you promise to change your horrible name.