Blog archive

Typesafe Is Now Lightbend

There are few trickier tasks in business -- any business -- than changing a company's name. There are branding issues, legal complications, marketing considerations. Just ask the folks at Lightbend, formerly Typesafe, who have been going through the process for months, and today announced its new moniker.

"It was an interesting process," the company's president and CEO, Mark Brewer, told me. "But I wouldn't want to go through it again."

Why change what many considered to be a pretty cool name?

"We've broadened our product portfolio so much that we felt we needed a name change so that the market would recognize us for more than just Scala," Brewer said. "The Scala community continues to grow and adoption continues at an accelerating rate, but we, as a company, are about more than that. We are about providing enterprise developers with a platform for building this next generation of apps on the JVM. The Reactive Platform, from its inception, has supported both Scala and Java."

More than half the company's current customer based is Java developers, Brewer said. And virtually every new Lightbend customer starts out using Java.

The original name, "Typesafe," comes from the concept of type safety, the property of some languages that prevents unwanted behavior caused by discrepancies among differing data types. Scala is a type-safe language for the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), so the name made sense when the organization was new and focused on Scala. But the company evolved. It's now the force behind Akka, an open source, asynchronous, event-driven middleware implemented in Scala; the Play Web app framework, which is written in Scala and Java; and the open source Apache Spark Big Data processing framework, among other products. And today the company announced a new framework for Java developers creating microservices.

The company's Reactive Platform combines a number of its products to support the development of reactive applications on the JVM in both Scala and Java. Conceptualized in the "Reactive Manifesto," which was co-authored by CTO and co-founder Jonas Bonér, reactive applications are apps that better meet the "contemporary challenges of software development," in a world in which applications are deployed to everything from mobile devices to cloud-based clusters running thousands of multicore processors.

So there was a reasonable argument for the name change. I also understand that the old name was frequently misspelled (Typeface, Typespace and so on), which must have been frustrating. (I never misspelled it myself. Just sayin'.)

Typesafe enlisted Lexicon Branding, a branding firm with a good rep in open source circles, to help with the process, Brewer said. The company also included its customers and the Scala community in the name-change process, starting last May, seeking feedback and suggestions via the Typesafe blog. Judging from the initial comments, many weren't immediately on board, but they seem to have embraced the idea eventually.

Why Lightbend?

"The name was intended to evoke a sense of something interesting and cool and next-gen, but nothing specific to any technology," Brewer said. "It's also easy to spell and easy to remember."

BTW: Brewer has gone through this process twice before: once for the change from Interface 21 to SpringSource. That was a good move, and I think this will prove to be a good move, too, once we all get used to it.

Posted by John K. Waters on February 23, 2016