We continue our What’s in a Name series with ZeroStack, Apcera and Knack.

ZeroStack, Inc. 

Founded: 2014

Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.

Number of employees: 32

Specializes in: Self-service and scale-out private cloud

Has this been the company name since it was founded? Yes

Who named the company? Ajay Gulati (co-founder/CEO) and Kiran Bondalapati (co-founder/CTO)

Ajay GulatiCEO: Ajay Gulati (pictured)

How and why did the company take on this name?

We wanted a company name that provides context yet leads to intrigue and curiosity. Enterprises love the ease of use of public clouds and want to have a similar solution in house. 

However, to realize that dream they have to put together one or more technology stacks along with compatible infrastructure components. These stacks are not designed for ease of use and require a lot of sophistication to build, manage and operate. “ZeroStack” derived from what our customers will get with our technology, the industry’s first zero-touch private cloud, built on OpenStack: zero headaches, zero hassles, zero complexity, zero Ops, and zero lock-in with a complete, pre-built, elevated, full and optimized stack. 

What tech company names do you envy?

Slack, it is a great name. It’s short and easy to use as a verb or as a platform. You can Slack something or put it on Slack! It doesn't really tell what the company does but once you know about it, it is very easy to remember.


Founded: March 2012

Headquarters: San Francisco

Number of employees: 120

Specializes in: Delivering trust and driving innovation at scale for enterprises in today's dynamic cloud environments

CEO: Derek Collison (pictured)

Derek Collison

Was this the original name? Yes

Who named the company? Founder and CEO Derek Collison

How and why did the company take on this name? 

Naming a company is difficult. When thinking of a name, there are different routes that one can take: use a standard name that means something (think Apple), invent a name that sounds interesting (think Google), or use a transliteration of a word from another language. When it came time to name Apcera, my children were very interested in Google Translate so, going with the third route (mentioned above) while eating sushi in San Mateo, Calif. one night, I enlisted their help in brainstorming.

We landed on Apsara, a goddess of the clouds and a fast mover; my company would be dealing in cloud systems and platforms, and we needed to move fast. As a result, the three of us thought Apsara was a perfect fit.

Why the differentiation in spelling? After we decided on Apsara as the winner, several materials behind the name were unavailable. Instead of abandoning this perfect fit, during a following dinner, my daughter Meg suggested we should just spell it differently, which I thought was brilliant. Always great to learn from your children and find a simpler solution. I was ready to start the search all over.

What tech company names do you envy? The names are usually linked to the company, its role in society and our impressions of them, like a Google or Apple mentioned above. Tesla was a great choice for the name of Elon Musk's company, Pinterest is also pretty good and, although dated, Oracle was a well chosen name, at the time.


Founded: 2012

Headquarters: 100 percent remote

Number of employees: 14

Specializes in: Enabling everyone to do amazing things with their data. Knack combines a powerful online database with easy tools to manage, share and analyze that data.

knack software team

CEO: Brandon Griggs

Was this the original name? No, we went with the unfortunate name of “AppNowGo” while developing our beta.

Who named the company? Brandon Griggs and Eric Katherman, co-founders.

How and why did the company take on this name? 

It was a long and painful road. After a two-year beta period we still had no marketable name and had to launch with SOMETHING, so we hit thesaurus.com and after considering hundreds of ideas decided on Knack. It connotes effortless skill, and we liked the idea of enabling anyone to have a "knack" for building business apps. Eventually we were able to get the knack.com domain from the band “The Knack,” of My Sharona fame.

What tech company names do you envy? 

Any company whose name can actually conjure up connotations of their core value proposition has done something very difficult.