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Sunday, Aug 14, 2022


Name Games

There are interesting stories behind the company names—both long-established and new upstarts—highlighted on our front page this week.

The name of Palmer Luckey’s defense-focused tech firm Anduril Industries gets its name from a sword that’s prominent in the “Lord of the Rings” fantasy series.

Irvine’s Kajabi, the well-funded online software platform for small businesses and entrepreneurs, drew its name from an aboriginal word that means “to take flight.”

The late Paul Van Doren in 1966 co-founded the Van Doren Rubber Co., maker of famed shoe brand Vans, whose “Off the Wall” motto refers to skateboarders who learned new tricks by skating off empty swimming pool walls.

Edwards Lifesciences counts the longest history here; the Irvine-based company’s roots date back to 1958, “when Miles ‘Lowell’ Edwards set out to build the first artificial heart.”

Edwards was a 60-year-old, recently retired engineer “with a background in hydraulics and fuel pump operations” and a belief “the human heart could be mechanized,” the $61 billion-valued company (NYSE: EW) notes.

He presented the concept to Dr. Albert Starr, and two years later the first Starr-Edwards mitral valve was designed, developed, tested, and successfully placed in a patient.

That spawned a company, Edwards Laboratories, which set up shop in Santa Ana—“not far from where Edwards Lifesciences’ corporate headquarters is located today,” the company says.

Edwards’ recently expanded headquarters, running about 50 acres, and Anduril’s sprawling new Costa Mesa headquarters are each poised for a major hiring push. Already with about 5,000 local workers, Edwards is looking to hire hundreds more, while Anduril is now approaching 1,000 local employees.

Edwards Lifesciences CEO Mike Mussallem closely tracks the coronavirus, permitting his employees to work from their homes if they feel uncomfortable.

“I don’t think it’ll be ever over. We’ll have to learn to live with it. The good news is its severity has lessened,” he told our Peter J. Brennan during an exclusive interview.

For more on how this one-time steel mill worker in Indiana helped build OC’s most valuable public company, see our front-page feature, part of this week’s OC50: The Fast 50 coverage.

Kantata’s the new name for Irvine-based project management software maker Mavenlink, which recently merged with London’s Kimble Applications. See page 6 for more on the plans for the company post-merger.

Cantata, a musical form dating back to the 17th century, inspired the name for Kantata, says our Kevin Costelloe.

The firm joins the local ranks of other musically influenced company names, like dental device maker Sonendo (NYSE: SONX) and other related medical firms that came out of Laguna Hills life science accelerator Fjord Ventures, such as Adagio Medical and Metronome Health.

Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.

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