The API Company Named By a Computer

Adam DuVander
Dec. 02 2011, 12:00AM EST

What's your most prized domain name? We all have the ones that make us proud. For Lexity and its employees, it's their company's name. That's because Lexity used to be called Vurve, but everyone wanted to re-brand. Rather than sit around thinking up names, developer Eugene Shumulinsky wrote a program. The script generated many possibilities. Some were even good, including Lexity, which the company acquired.

Using a long list of words to seed the script, Shumulinsky combined pieces of the words to create new possibilities. Now the startup could use its creativity to work on its product, a platform to streamline small business online advertising. Employees would give a look at the generated names from time to time and eventually Vurve became Lexity.

Of course, that's the short version. The long version includes Markov chains and n-grams. And the seed data? It was a combination of the jargon file, science terms and popular characters from mythology and classics. Names that didn't get chosen were "robotomy," "greplit," "firemunky," "astrona" and "uptimism." But don't go searching for those domains--they were snatched up by Lexity employees.

Shumulinsky open sourced the code that named Lexity, so you can use it yourself. It doesn't automatically check domain names for availability, though there are several domain whois APIs. Lexity's Amit Kumar said checking domains didn't make sense for them, because the employees were a finer filter. Plus, the company was willing to pay for the right name if it was already registered.

So, that's Lexity's story. But how about you? What's your favorite domain name--or are you already running the script, looking for the next diamond?

Adam DuVander -- Adam heads developer relations at Orchestrate, a database-as-a-service company. He's spent many years analyzing APIs and developer tools. Previously he worked at SendGrid, edited ProgrammableWeb and wrote for Wired and Webmonkey. Adam is also the author of mapping API cookbook Map Scripting 101.

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