Startups Hit Cute Overload

Mark Milian

There was no better sign of the dot-com boom’s irrational exuberance than the proliferation of cutesy mascots. After the bubble burst, Internet entrepreneurs grew more serious, reflected as much in their logos as in their business plans. With VC money flowing freely again, the fun is back.

BOOM YEARS

SUN MICROSYSTEMS

Duke, the Java mascot

’94

MICROSOFT

Clippy annoyed a generation of Office users until it was officially offed in 2009.

’96

ASK JEEVES

IAC fired Jeeves when it acquired the company in 2005.

AOL

LINUX

“People remember faces.” — Howard Belk, co-president for brand consulting firm Siegel+Gale

TiVo

PETS.COM

The Pets.com sock puppet, which appeared in a Super Bowl ad, became a symbol of excess.

’98

’00

PANDORA

STUMBLEUPON

BLUE PERIOD

DELICIOUS

“Blue is the color of choice for the Internet. It’s a safe one and it looks nice.” — Entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian

MYSPACE

’04

FACEBOOK

DIGG

YOUTUBE

FLICKR

BAROQUE ERA

TWITTER

The Twitter bird’s name is Larry. (Not to be confused with Larry Bird.)

EVERNOTE

ZYNGA

“I want it to be more recognizable than a Nike swoosh.” — Mark Pincus

’08

GOOGLE

The mascot for the Android mobile operating system has spawned a line of toy collectibles.

GITHUB

’10

HIPMUNK

The goggles are “quaint ... maybe it’s the hipster in Hipmunk.” — Ohanian, the mascot’s designer

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