Was 2012 the year CamelCase died?
Apparently every single startup got together in secret and made a New Year's Resolution last year. The press was never told. I have never seen it written about or heard about this dealt with explicitly. But as the year rolled on I noticed something: No well-heeled startup was using CamelCase anymore.
Among the many good, bad, and cheesy things the Web has brought us, perhaps none is so silly as something called CamelCase. As my capitalization shows, this is when two words are shoved together to create a company name with a second (or in some cases, even a third) capitalization added to make its portmanteau-iness clear.
You know, kinda like, "PandoDaily." Only embarrassingly, it's looking like we were one of the last startups in Silicon Valley to use it.
As a reporter I'd gotten so used to CamelCase that I just do it by default. And I noticed all year long, I had to go back into posts and change it. Snapchat. Silvercar. Workday. Braintree. Airbnb. Getaround. Foursquare. Zipcar. These are just a few examples that come to mind, but there are loads of them. Some were earlier than 2012, but this was the year the trend seemed to hit a tipping point.
CamelCase is fast becoming about as cool as the flip phone.
Meanwhile, the further you get from the Valley, CamelCase is still in use. So consider this a public service to other entrepreneurs who-- like me -- we're left out of the loop.
I'll miss CamelCase, but then again I still capitalize Internet. I know people love to mock it, and language snobs loathed it. But it's part of the Web's history to me. It was pioneered in medicine and chemistry, but widely popularized back when people didn't totally understand URLs and Web companies. Wait, is that one word or two?
CamelCasing company and product names was helpful in knowing how to pronounce company names or URLs that were unnecessarily shoved together to explain how a URL worked. And while we dropped the "www." and the ".com" after the late 1990s, CamelCase became more popular in the Web 2.0 era with the glaring exception of Facebook. LinkedIn. YouTube. MySpace. iPod. iPhone. iPad. TechCrunch. VentureBeat. And even a few triple humps like: AllThingsD.
Beyond this trend, mobile is changing how company come up with their names altogether. No longer is anyone a slave to the URL. Many mobile-first entrepreneurs don't feel any pressure to name their companies based on an available URL, they name them what they want, assuming searching in the App store -- not online -- is all that matters. SideCar's (another one who wasn't told!) URL is the inscrutable side.cr. The elegantly named Karma was found online at GetKarma.com.
While that trend has thankfully rid us of writing about companies with names that all end in “ly” or “ippy” – a trend far more annoying than CamelCase – it actually makes companies considerably harder to find on the Web. That's a pretty big bet that we're all discovering new things through the App store, and no one is looking them up online first. It may come back to bite companies.
But poor CamelCase is probably gone for now. If we know anything about fashion, it'll come back one day, and then PandoDaily will look hip again. Until then, consider our name an homage to the Web entrepreneurs that came before.