Friday, May 29, 2009

Meus Nomen Est: Strange Names, Inc.

Names are important. After all, even the lowliest wizard knows that to know something's true name gives you power over it. Every one in a while, Acts of Minor Treason takes time to look at examples of names, true or not, of things of various kinds. Despite four years of high school Latin, no guarantees are given on the accuracy of the title.

Even more so than its management slate or share capitalization, the case can be made that its name is the most valuable thing a modern corporation owns. Names inspire recognition and loyalty, and the reputation accrued by a rock-solid name can make or break deals around the world.

Sometimes, though, those rock-solid names are just plain odd. I've come across a few myself in my time. Today, thanks to the company profile listing maintained on SEDAR, the System for Electronic Data Analysis and Retrieval - an online database of regulatory news from publicly-traded reporting issuers on Canadian stock exchanges - anyone can come across them, and wonder.

Orko Silver Corp.: It may be because I'm from the '80s, but when I hear "Orko," the first thing I think is "He-Man's comic-relief spell-slinging buddy who also happens to have no legs and wears a shirt with his initial on it." Nevertheless, Orko Silver has been plugging away in the mining business since August 5, 1983. Seeing as how the character Orko's first appearance was in the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon series, which did not begin airing until September 26, 1983, it seems to be less a case of a startup silver company naming itself after a children's cartoon character and more of a coincidence. There is, after all, apparently an ancient Basque deity also named Orko, though Encyclopedia Mythica is silent on whether he has anything to do with silver.

Canadian Mining Company Inc.: It's shocking, I know, but despite its name CMC does not control the mining industry in Canada. In fact, by the time of its formation in 1987, there were already a bunch of Canadian mining companies - though, I must say, none of them were forward-looking enough to actually call themselves that.

Uldaman Capital Corp.: It is distinctly possible that, prior to November 23, 2004, "Uldaman" already meant something. It'd be pretty damn hard for me to tell if that's the case now, though, as on that day in November, Blizzard's massively-multiplayer game World of Warcraft launched with Uldaman as one of the game's multiple five-player dungeon instances. SEDAR sets Uldaman Capital Corp.'s foundation at January 16, 2006, which makes me wonder two things: first, if it was founded by a group of WoW fans, and second, whether three-manning Archaedas is a prerequisite to getting on the Board of Directors.

D-FENSE CAPITAL LTD.: I can't even tell what this company does; SEDAR classifies it as "other." Seeing as how it was established in February 2005, it is within the realm of possibility that its founders were fans of the 1993 Michael Douglas film Falling Down.

GST Telecommunications, Inc.: This name would have been pretty innocuous when the company was formed back in 1987. Four years later, Brian Mulroney's new Goods and Services Tax gave all Canadians a reason to look at the letters "GST" askance. It says something for their persistence that they haven't changed their name, I think.

While some of these names may be odd, or have unintended connotations, there's nothing particularly wrong with them. That's not the case with this next strangely-named company, the last one I'll be looking at today.

Zero-Knowledge Systems Inc.

Yes, really.

You would think that the negative implications of such a name would be immediately apparent. What's more, SEDAR lists them as having formed earlier than any other company on this list, with their incorporation taking place way back on January 1, 1500. It's comforting to think that well before Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain made their first pioneering voyages to what would become New France, Zero-Knowledge Systems was already making Montreal a center of industrial products, technology, and software. It's since changed its name to Radialpoint, apparently, but... come on.

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