Nope to Metamates, Googlers and Puritans

This article is part of the On Tech Newsletter. Here is a collection Past columns,

The company we know as Facebook has announced that its employees will henceforth be known as “Matmatates”. This is A naval referenceAnd a cognitive scientist who does not use social media The moniker suggestedIn the postscript of the email.

All fantastic. Then again, “Facebookers” was also very strange.

The point is not that Facebook / Meta / J has chosen a clumsy name to refer to its employees. The point is, technology companies prefer to use the proper nouns for their workers. This is not normal.

The thing is, technology Is normal Now there was a time when the tech industry was novel and different, and so were its corporate cultures. But technology is now so ingrained in our lives that many of the company’s items that looked adorable in 2000 now look artificial.

I humbly suggest that tech companies try to act like corporate leaders. Maybe they can start by rethinking those names.

Google employees are called Googlers. New Hire Googlers are Nooglers. The former Googlers is Xoogler. There are Pinployes on Pinterest. Tvilions works for Twilio. Dasher delivers burritos for DoorDash. Toasters work hard for a company that creates new fungal cash registers.

Boxers are in the corner in a software company called Box and Dropboxers are in Dropbox with the same name. Splunk calls its workers Splunkers. It’s a shame. The cave explorer term was Spelunkers Forward there. Hubspot’s Hubspotters and Amazon’s Amazonians look like rival teams in the Canadian Football League.

Silicon Valley also has Puritans (pure storage staff), Palantirians (Palantir) and … wait for it … Coins Bitcoin bank on Coinbase. (“Bae” is a word of affection for someone special.)

Maybe you find this corny or beautiful. They are both! And if plenty of bread pans make people feel more connected to their peers, carb me. Well, that was bad. Sorry.

Employee naming is not a specific thing but a technical matter. As far as I know, JPMorgan Chase Bank Taylors are not regularly called “Chasers”. New York Times employees aren’t called “Gray Ladies” like the old newspaper nicknames – and if you call me Gray Lady, I’ll hit you in the nose with a thick Sunday paper. (Or I would, if I hadn’t gone all digital.)

I can’t help but feel that these naming conventions for tech workers are a beleaguered work of art of the age of technology as an oddball species in the world’s zoos.

Believe it or not, there was a time when technology was a fringe industry that was desperate for attention. Steve Jobs called home reporters to persuade them to take more care of what Apple was doing. Technology companies have adopted their outsider and underdog status. It was cool to be isolated and unwelcome.

That is no longer the case. Technology has conquered, and that is everything and everywhere. Human communication is inseparable from technology, and so are finance, entertainment, agriculture, transportation, our interactions with government, and the way we learn and operate. Tech companies and executives are one of the richest and most powerful forces on earth. Elon Musk can move the stock markets by tweeting from the toilet.

Maybe I just enjoy a pure murder. (I am.) But the more technology becomes result-oriented and ubiquitous, the more it feels like a base for technology companies to work like an oddball.

Some tech quirks are pretty good. Who could argue with the free sundes for staff and desk chairs that are doubled as works of art? And tech people don’t have to be soulless drones. But there should be a happy medium between the boring corporate chief executives and the billionaire co-founder of Plantier who stocked his company on roller skis and wearing work clothes and goggles.

Like many things about tech, corporate workers may need to rethink those proper terms. However, Coinbase can keep Coinbaes. Really A +.

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