Where Did the Name “Proper Sky” Come From?
This is the question we get asked more than any other. After our CEO, Jim Smith, finished with the Peace Corps in 2006, he returned to the U.S. obsessed with the idea of starting his own business. But as many perfectionists know, naming a business is no small procedure. Whenever Jim felt he had something awe-inspiring, he’d search the US Patent Office, US Trademarks Office (whose site hasn’t been updated in at least 12 years) and NameCheap, but was left disappointed each time. It seemed all the favorable names had been claimed.
After a few frustrating days, inspiration finally struck in the form of building a digital name generator. Jim lifted various words from the dictionary, compiled them, and let the script couple words together. Once a catalog of potential names had been built, Jim checked to see if anybody owned the domains for his favorites. When the domain hadn’t been taken, he forwarded the top generated names to close friends and family for feedback.
This, however, is only a brief explanation of how Jim came up with ‘Proper Sky’. The more technological (but far more interesting) version of this story is detailed below.
Business Name Generator 1.0
Back in 2006, Jim was heavily invested in Linux and decided to write a simple Perl script to carry out his work for him. He established a 3-step criteria:
- The .com domain had to be available and financially viable.
- The name itself had to be eye-catching.
- The name also had to be fewer than 15 characters.
The first condition was simple to abide by: Jim ran the ‘whois’ command and looked for ‘No match for’. It was near enough fool-proof.
The second condition, however, presented a more interesting challenge. Most of the shorter words had already been registered by a company or an organization, so instead of looking for a single word at a time, Jim searched for two combined words instead. The search took two disparate words ($w) and ($x) from the dictionary. Once the results poured in, Jim combed through to see if $w and $x were available as .com domains. When they weren’t free, he created two entirely new variables: $y & $z, where ($y = $w + $x) and ($z = $x + $w). Ultimately, it looked something like this:
$w = chowder
$x = yummy
$y = chowderyummy
$z = yummychowder
If the letter count was fewer than 15 characters (as to follow rule 3), Jim added a ‘.com’ at the end to see if the name in question had been claimed. Eventually, all of the steps added up to a business name being generated, and an effective business name generator being created in the process.
After Jim had let the script run for a few hours, he took the generated names and culled the list down to the 10 hardest hitters. The next morning, Jim picked out the 6 names below and made logos for each of them. A Philly theme might be noticeable.
umbel.com cloudstation.com companysteel.com propersky.com quire.com sappare.com
After compiling the list and making individual logos for each name, one undeniably stood out. Proper Sky – as a name and concept – truly resonated. It was emblematic of the way Jim Smith felt about technology: wide open but with fundamental rules and constructs. And on 4/11/2006, the name Proper Sky was officially registered.