Five months ago NBC and Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. announced plans to build a new online video-sharing site meant to compete with Google's YouTube. Seemed like a bold move, old media firms' first big bid to unseat the upstart rival to their fortune. Save for one problem. The new firm wasn't really real. Not only did it have no site, no videos, no presence whatsoever, it didn't even have a name.
So today it finally gets a name -- it's Hulu, the company announced. Pronounced, I'm guessing, HOO-loo, not huh-luh. The service, though, won't debut for a long time to come.
Hulu is not obviously more dumb than a lot of other Web company names. Plus, many names sound stupid when you encounter them for the first time; Kodak rolls off the tongue today, but back in 1881, I'm guessing people considered it lunatic.
Jason Kilar, the CEO of Hulu, says on the company's new Web site that the firm chose the name because it "is short, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and rhymes with itself." (Kilar: All words rhyme with themselves. I think you mean it has an internal rhyme.) He adds: "Hulu strikes us as an inherently fun name, one that captures the spirit of the service we're building. Our hope is that Hulu will embody our (admittedly ambitious) never-ending mission, which is to help you find and enjoy the world's premier content when, where and how you want it."
OK to all that, but if Hulu really wants to take it to YouTube, it just lost the first round. YouTube is one of the most perfect, original names ever to hit the Internet. Unlike Google, Yahoo or Napster, YouTube is descriptive; it says exactly what it is succinctly and cleverly, and it sounds good. While we're at it, other wonderful Net names: Flickr, Friendster -- one of the many names inspired by Napster -- Netflix, Gawker, Defamer, Lifehacker and whatever blog Nick Denton thinks of next.