top of page

The power of daft names

Here at B2B Frameworks we are always looking for business models that help us turn a profit. It’s impossible to ignore the stellar performance of Elon Musk. He has the Midas touch. He made his first fortune with a web software company called Zip2 that was acquired by Compaq for $307 million in 1999. He went on to form PayPal which was bought in 2002 for $1.5 billion. His latest enterprises in SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity make his estimated net worth over $160 billion. He vies with Jeff Bezos of Amazon as the richest person in the world. The guy certainly knows what he is doing. So what's with his new company title – Technoking? Apparently his chief financial officer at Tesla has also rebranded and is now known as Master Of Coin. Why would someone as clever as Elon Musk give himself and his colleague such daft names? I suppose it is because they can.

When you are on an upward trajectory there is nothing to stop you doing and saying weird things that people often emulate. Because you are successful, your views and actions have credibility. There has been a fashion recently in people adopting these strange titles. It must seem boring boring to be called an HR manager. Far better to position yourself as Chief Happiness Officer or Director Of Fun.

If a company is doing well you can get away with it. If a company is losing money and especially if it is listed, you might want to be a bit more careful. Investors may be cautious of someone who is promoting happiness in their title and losing loads in stock value. After all said and done, shouldn’t mundane CEOs, CFOs and HR managers all be responsible for keeping their employees happy and motivated? Emphasising this role with a rah rah title might suggest self-aggrandisement or even flippancy. Making money and even making people happy and satisfied is a serious business and is unlikely to be helped by a change of name.

I have no doubt that if you were to correlate weird names with company success there would be a positive link. This is because it is a company’s success that allows someone to adopt a weird and wonderful name. My concern is that there is no causal association. If a moribund or failing company adopted weird titles for its leaders, I postulate that it would go down the pan even quicker. I wager that you wouldn’t trust a company whose business development manager was called Head Of Schmoozing or a business owner that was called Chief Amazement Officer. There are times when a boring name gives us more confidence than an ego-maniacal disruptor - except of course if the name of the individual is Elon Musk.

bottom of page