Why We’re Named Jellyfish

Posted on November 3rd, 2021
Written by Kevin Dallaire | Jellyfish News
Jellyfish

Today is World Jellyfish Day. It’s the unofficial day where we celebrate the gelatinous sea creature we’ve come to know and love and which inspired our company name. 

For this World Jellyfish Day, we’re going to honor our namesake by re-telling the story of why we picked Jellyfish. It’s usually one of the first questions we hear from new employees, and we’re willing to bet some of the folks in our network are curious too. To tell the story properly, we have to take a trip back to the 90’s…

How it all started

Our story begins in 1999 when our three co-founders, Andrew, David, and Phil first began working together at a small company that would become Endeca. After being acquired by Oracle for $1 billion in 2011, each of our leaders went onto different post-Endeca endeavors, hoping one day to work together again. I’m omitting a few details in that retelling, but the history of Endeca has been well-documented at this point. Suffice to say, there have been numerous success stories born of former Endeca comradesToast and Salsify to name a couple – so Andrew, David, and Phil’s hopes were not unfounded.

They kept in touch over the years, and eventually regrouped in 2017. Why? Each noticed this same unresolved challenge that seemingly followed them throughout their careers. And when they talked to others in their positions, those challenges were echoed. Bottom line: they found the problem that they were meant to come together to solve.

You see, the problem existed when they ran engineering and product teams at Endeca. How are engineering teams allocating their time? How is progress going on the next release? Are teams becoming more efficient over time, or producing higher-quality software? Are there unaddressed bottlenecks holding teams back? Are developers getting burnt out and can you identify (and help address) this early on? 

All of those questions share some version of the same answer: you don’t really know with 100% certainty because technical leaders lacked a toolset that provided the data-driven insights needed to more precisely answer those questions. Providing this level of insight could empower engineering leaders in ways never possible before.

Andrew, Dave, and Phil convinced a few trusted and experienced engineers they loved working with to join their core group and build the first iterations of a SaaS-based platform that would become the Engineering Management Platform that we all know today. Even in its first iterations, the platform could provide data-driven answers to many of those questions previously mentioned.

A company was born, but now we have to name it

They had a product, but now they needed an official company name. So, an infamous brainstorming session began.

Andrew, Dave, and Phil locked themselves in a room for a few long hours to figure this out. They laid out some basic criteria to hone the process. They wanted the name to be short and simple. And it needed to sound like a fun tech startup. They started by just spitballing categories. Plants, animals, fun adjectives, things like that. After a couple grueling hours huddled in a room with coffee and a half empty box of sugary snacks, someone finally threw this one out there: What about Jellyfish? 

Right there; that was it! The parallels to the culture they were building were undeniable, but it was an even better fit as they talked about all the things that the company, the product, and people share in common with jellyfish.

On the surface (pun intended), jellyfish are just cool. They live in vast oceans listening to and moving with the ocean currents. They’re transparent creatures and our product provides a level of transparency into what engineering is working on. Even more impressive, they’ve adapted over millennia to the dangers in the waters around them. Pretty cool! Even in the early days of our company culture, we strove to be transparent with each other, our customers, and provide a level of transparency to our customers through data-driven insights. We strove to be adaptable and keep pace with the evolving needs of technical leaders everywhere. Today, that means empowering those leaders with data. 

But consider this even more obscure fact about jellyfish. Did you know that their tentacles interpret signals from their surrounding environments and relay that information to the other jellyfish in their bloom? Our product, the Engineering Management Platform, processes signals from the tools software developers use every day to communicate a holistic picture of their engineering organizations to the other parts of the business. I mean, could it get more obvious who we already were?

The parallels to what we built were undeniable. We became Jellyfish and a company name was born.

We are Jellyfish

To say we leaned into the Jellyfish name and the overall aquatic theme is an understatement. The engineering teams are named after mythical sea creatures, the sales teams after sea vessels. Our conference rooms (in our newly renovated office) will be named after Jelly/fish puns (we also love a good pun here).

Recently, the whole company got together to talk about who we are, what we value, and what we stand for. While that’s a topic for another day, each value was not so indirectly tied to the conversations about what jellyfish embody during the brainstorming sessions. 

So this World Jellyfish Day, we celebrate the amazing sea creature that is the jellyfish. We owe our name and our values to this fascinating ancient aquatic being.