When we initially announced our company’s name, I wrote a short blog post about the choice of Hulu as our moniker. Now that the service has been launched in the U.S., I thought I’d share more background and context on why we chose the name Hulu. After all, we’re very proud of the name, and perhaps some of our new users are curious about its origins.
In a series of marathon naming sessions, Eric, Christina, Eugene and I (shown below) generated, reviewed and debated a very long list of names, filling the whiteboard walls with dozens of possibilities last July and August. In doing so, we came up with a short list of interesting names and a much longer list of horrendous names. It turns out it’s much easier to think up bad names as opposed to good ones!
At some point during the marathon naming sessions, the name Hulu was suggested in addition to slight variants. Eric — who doubles as Hulu’s CTO — mentioned he had actually considered the name Hulu for an online video venture that he previously founded in China. In Mandarin, Hulu has two interesting meanings, each highly relevant to our mission. The primary meaning interested us because it is used in an ancient Chinese proverb that describes the Hulu as the holder of precious things. It literally translates to “gourd,” and in ancient times, the Hulu was hollowed out and used to hold precious things. The secondary meaning is “interactive recording.” We saw both definitions as appropriate bookends and highly relevant to the mission of Hulu.
As I mentioned several months ago, we were also excited about the name because it had no meaning in the English language. Given that we had aspired — and continue to aspire — to create a unique experience that is both worthy of remark and defies easy comparison, having a name with no direct definition appealed to us. For practical purposes, we also set out to have a relatively short, easy-to-pronounce name. And though we had done our homework — we were familiar with all the translations, both good and bad — we still wanted a name that was both approachable and fun. After all, we’re not selling life insurance or medical instruments here.
And so the name Hulu came to be.