Company's new name has familiar ring

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Company needs a name change; founder chooses his own.

What to do, what to do?

Well, meet Joel Bomgar, formerly Joel Bomgaars, founder of Bomgar, formerly NetworkStreaming.

The company recently announced the name change and that it has acquired another pile of cash. It's been a bit of a Network World darling, receiving a favorable product review, being anointed one of our "Top 10 Security Companies to Watch," and Bomgar (then Bomgaars) being featured in one of our Hot Seat interviews. (Links available through my blog.)

All that coverage accrued to NetworkStreaming, which company marketing executive Melissa Dent readily concedes was a "generic" name that created the mistaken impression that they did video streaming. After much internal noodling, the company -- and the company co-founder -- decided to adopt the name Bomgar, she says.

And why not? Bomgar has that ring of strength, coupled with general emptiness that allows a company to fill in the blanks any way it pleases.

But did Bomgaars really change his name to Bomgar -- legally speaking?

No, Dent says. He has merely adopted Bomgar as his "professional name."

Won't renaming the company in his own image appear egotistical to some?

"Anyone who knows Joel will tell you that he's as far from egotistical as you can get," Dent says, although they discussed the possibility.

Factoring into the spelling-alteration decision may have been the fact that was already taken by Bomgaars, a retail chain headquartered in Iowa.

Bomgar has the advantage of simplicity anyway.

Hey, at least they didn't have to waste money on a "naming consultant."

Pendulum swinging toward privacy

The New York Times recently reported that county and state officials are increasingly eager to remove Social Security information from public records on the Internet. This trend is clearly a victory for personal privacy and offers a measure of added protection against identity theft.

It's also just as clearly an opportunity for the law of unintended consequences to rear its mischievous head.

From the Times: "One by one, states and counties have started removing images of documents that contain Social Security numbers, or they are blocking out the numbers. Four states, including New York, have removed links to images of public documents containing Social Security numbers. . . . Wednesday, the Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, issued a legal opinion that county clerks could be committing a crime by revealing Social Security numbers on the Internet."

While the last point seems extreme, the good here is obvious and significant: It's difficult to justify placing private individuals at a significantly increased risk of identity theft simply because they buy property, get married or get divorced.

However, there's also a clear risk of losing the baby with the bath water. Redacting Social Security numbers and other sensitive personal information from public records has proved difficult, time-consuming and costly. On the other hand, removing public records in bulk from the Internet will be relatively easy, quick and inexpensive.

Given those options, which way do you think cash-strapped municipalities, counties and states will go? How much critical, perfectly safe and justifiable online public information will be sacrificed in the name of privacy protection?

Moreover, how long do you think it will take for less-well-intentioned public officials to use the guise of privacy protection to justify their own desires to keep the public in the dark? . . . This is a pendulum that needs to be monitored carefully.

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Name changes all round


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