What's in a name: Mimoto

in  identity
Pete Birkinshaw by Pete Birkinshaw
Thoughts on Mimoto and unique identity



I called my first company “Digital Identity Ltd”, a very literal name for a digital identity company used for consulting and contracting work. Possibly too obvious and literal - it’s not a great name for search results.

When Sam and I were setting up Mimoto in 2016 we were after a more interesting name, and picked the romanised word for official identity in Japanese. I think it reminded me of Atari. But it was also a name that stood out in the identity and security field which is awash with companies with bland names like “Digital Identity”.

Several years later we started to receive a series of puzzling phone calls and emails referring to our San Francisco office, our use of “AI”, and our exciting new funding. None of which sounds like us: we’re based in the UK, we’re a remote-first organisation, we’re keen to avoiding being caught up in the current “AI” hype-cycle, and we’re proudly self-funded and debt-free.

A new company in the USA, founded in 2020, that also works with security software, SSO and so on has decided that they too like the name Mimoto and it seems they don’t mind that it was already in use in the same business area. They’ve also picked an almost identical shade of orange as their signature colour. They seem more marketing focused than us (or simply better at it) which is snagging more attention from web scrapers. It’s ironic that they’ve chosen a word meaning unique official identity in a context where it isn’t a unique identifier.

This has clearly created a confusing situation for both people and scraper bots, leading to us receiving the odd messages. Mimoto is trademarked in the UK so they can’t trade under that name here but that doesn’t apply to the USA, so we think there will be a degree of confusion for the foreseeable future. Maybe search engines will learn to untangle the two companies. Or maybe the other Mimoto will realise the benefit of a unique identity and change their name.