Where did we get the name Xobni?


Back in the spring of 2006 Adam was talking with Paul Graham, our first investor, about naming the email company Paul had just invested in. Adam was toying with the name “InboxAdvisor” mostly because he was consulting at a consumer Internet security company called SiteAdvisor at the time.

Paul suggested that Adam use the word “inbox” spelled backwards. Paul is known for this type of momentary genius. Adam went home, and registered the available (!!) five letter domain name http://www.xobni.com for $8.00. It is nearly impossible to find a five letter domain name these days, and yet we found one that actually had something to do with the company we were building.


From the beginning we pronounced Xobni with a long ‘o’: Zobe-nee. Friends who have known Xobni since the beginning still pronounce the name with a long ‘o’. As the company began to get more exposure however, we found that everyone was pronouncing Xobni with a short ‘o’, including Bill Gates. Rather than fighting the tide, we now officially pronounce the name with a short ‘o’: Zob-nee , but it wasn’t until a few months ago that we removed the line over the ‘o’ in our logo, which was our early attempt at forcing the long ‘o’ pronunciation. Lesson: Don’t try to force user behavior or pronunciation.


There are a lot of fun things you can try with a company name that’s spelled backwards. I think a lot of early stage companies spend too much time worrying about names and logos. We did too. Below are the major milestones in the progression of our logo:

Okay, I’ll take the blame on this one. Yuck! I’ve never been called an artist. And this was the image on our first business card. I wonder what the VCs thought when we handed our cards across the board room table.

Finally, my Photoshop skills improved and I discovered my new favorite font: Trebuchet MS

We hired Bryan “rounded corners” Kennedy. Everything got nicer around here with Bryan on the team.

This is the logo we launched with at Techcrunch40

For public launch, Jeff insisted that we go lowercase and remove the line over the ‘o’. It was a good call, but my nostalgic side cried a little bit. We also tried a new method of highlighting the ‘backwards’ inbox.

But if you take a close look at our mascot, the Xobni man, you may notice a vestige of the days of old:


I wonder how many people visiting our website fail to realize xobni is the word “inbox” spelled backwards? We see misspellings of our company name in the media and in the Google searches that drive traffic to our site. Here are my favorite misspellings of X-O-B-N-I:

1. Xobini
2. Xobin
3. Xobnini
4. Xoboni
5. Xonbi
6. Xobani
7. Zobni
8. Zobny

Okay, I’ll admit it. I wanted to find a way to work the misspellings of “xobni” into a blog post. With our good pagerank this blog post should quickly move to the top of the Google search results for all xobni misspellings.

11 Responses to “Where did we get the name Xobni?”

  1. 1 Gabor Cselle May 15, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Hah! Every time we changed the logo, it took hours of effort. I’m still finding places with the Trebuchet MS logo 🙂

    It was worth it, though. Gabor (heart) the lowercase logo.

  2. 2 Katie Fellows May 16, 2008 at 2:45 am

    Funny, because I’d always pronounced it with a long “o,” even after the line was removed. It wasn’t until recently that I’d started using a short vowel, mainly because I was outnumbered. So, I was… er, right? 🙂

  3. 3 Sean Murphy May 16, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    You waste your tag line trying to demonstrate your own cleverness: “It’s Inbox Spelled Backwards” is not a brand promise. And yet you spent a lot of messaging effort driving that point home. Think about Caelo’s Nelson “The E-mail Organizer” they follow their name with a brand promise.

  4. 4 ioangreavu March 28, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Speaking about your mascot, the ‘o’ with the line on top and the ‘x’ both remind me of the number ’10’. Which could be good.

  5. 5 John Focht April 30, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Matt –

    I can’t find my previous posts about problems with Xobni 1.7.3, and can’t tell whether you have addressed my specific problem (multiple .pst files that Xobni did not “see”.) Has this been fixed in the new release?

  6. 6 Comp June 20, 2009 at 6:12 am

    Good day. I like your publication, as well as on the Internet to find information about it.

  7. 7 Repair June 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    With your site I get a lot of useful information. Lots of interesting articles I found for myself.

  8. 8 тaйнa June 21, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Супер! Все очень толково и грамотно, и в то же время без излишних умствований и самолюбования, и на доступном языке. Редкий случай когда человек делится актуальной и востребованной инфой. Спасибо автору!

  9. 9 Zaur June 22, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Thanks for all the answers. Actually learned a lot. This is only until the end and not разобрался that and from where.

  10. 10 слаженность September 22, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Артур Михайлович раздраженно поджал губы:

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About Xobni

Xobni’s contact management products offer lightning fast email search and organization of your inbox, as well as an innovative and comprehensive address book for the mobile device.


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