When Google was 'BackRub'
LET'S forget about Felda or IHH Healthcare or Facebook for awhile. It's been a taxing few weeks talking, reading and analysing on their superlative listing and spillover effects including Khazanah making billions of ringgit in paper gain from the IHH initial public offering, Malaysia becoming the top IPO country in Asia, and so on.
Let's also steer clear from the Securities Commission's landmark success in getting harsher punishment against a former Fountain View Development Bhd director for a share manipulation offence committed on Bursa Malaysia between 2003 and 2004.
How about we talk something light and refreshing? Company moniker swap, anyone?
I bet not many of you know that Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web was the old name of Yahoo. And do you know that Google was not Google but had a more "sexy" name in BackRub?
Or how about Service Game Company, which is SEGA in the present form? And before there were Nissan, LG, Pepsi-Cola and IBM, there had been Datsun, Lucky Goldstar, Brad's Drink and Computing Tabulating Recording Corp?
So what's this fascination with name change? Why would a company change its name? What's in a (new) name, anyway?
The simple answer is that a company wants something that will appeal more. Or it is turning over a new leaf. Or it wants to highlight its new reality or it wants to shed sketchy reputation.
"Expert" explanations, on the other hand, are varied. One of them is that by adopting a new moniker, a company can better capture its "philosophy" and "value proposition", and energise its expansion efforts.
If you ask me, one of my replies will be that the name change is an attempt for a company to escape the dark cloud it had been under. If a company is involved in a fatal disaster or a big mismanagement, the new name may reflect that the company wants to avoid being blamed for it.
Unnamed experts reportedly say it is not uncommon for established companies to make a name change, starting again in some sense to rebuild on the marketing and branding fronts.
Three main reasons are cited. First, if the name no longer represents what they do and may even constrict them. Second, because the brand has become stagnant or has gotten caught up in some controversy that tarnishes the companies' image and reputation. And third, for trademark, legal or more practical reasons.
It may have been told countless time that when Andersen Consulting switched to Accenture in 2001, many wondered why it would leave behind such name recognition. The US$100 million move paid off later when Arthur Andersen accounting - once under the same corporate umbrella as the consulting firm - became embroiled in the Enron Corp accounting scandal (and the word "Andersen" became synonymous with "accounting scandal").
Experts also say corporate name changes tend to have less of an impact, either good or bad, than brand- name changes.
I list down some listed companies that have applied for a name change as well as those which have adopted new monikers. And leave you to figure out why they, and many others, do it.
* Masterskill Education Group Bhd to MEGB Metropolitan Bhd.
* Metro Kajang Holdings Bhd to MKH Bhd.
* Furqan Business Organisation Bhd to Eastland Equity Bhd.
* Mutiara Goodyear Development Bhd to Nadayu Properties Bhd.
* Wijaya Baru Global Bhd to Tadmax Resources Bhd.
* Tai Kwong Yokohama Bhd to Yokohama Industries Bhd.
* Satang Holdings Bhd to Destini Bhd.
* Equator Life Science Bhd to Ideal Sun City Holdings Bhd.
* Talam Corp Bhd to Trinity Corp Bhd.
* Century Software Holdungs Bhd to Censof Holdings Bhd
* Kurnia Asia Bhd to KSK Group Bhd.
* Ramunia Holdings Bhd to TH Heavy Engineering Bhd.