What’s in a Name: The Tale of Klaviyo

If you’ve ever wondered how Klaviyo found its name, or how to properly pronounce it, wonder no more!

You’re also not alone. With a few exceptions, everyone who has worked at Klaviyo has gone through that awkward self-doubt of, “Am I saying this right?” — to the point where the struggle to say it correctly is almost a rite of passage. We’ve been through conversations with friends and family who wonder what do we do and what does that name even mean?!

Within the walls of our office theories started to appear as to why we had gone with Klaviyo. Was it a lost bet? A night of drinking abroad? When peeled back, the real story was a bit less scandalous than we had originally imagined.

It started with a simple desire: a short name that could have .com thrown on the end, with the caveat that no one was squatting on the domain. During those days the company was in serious bootstrapping mode, and spending precious dollars on a domain name seemed wasteful.

From there, Klaviyo’s founders, Andrew and Ed, moved into a phase where they began examining interesting words in foreign languages. It’s still undecided who pitched the initial word clavija (klah-vee-ah).

Clavija is a Spanish word that translates to peg, as in the thing you might use to keep from falling when scaling cliffs.

Andrew and Ed were especially fond of clavija for its association with mountaineering. They wanted the product they were building to help users do something really difficult, like climb a mountain, and be something they couldn’t live without.

But there was a serious problem. Ed had socialized the name Clavija to his friends and found two roadblocks:

  1. No one could spell it (terrible for search)
  2. It sounded scary, like a disease.

While they liked the meaning behind Clavija, they decided to tweak it.

With a few letters changed, Clavija became Klaviyo.

Today the spelling still remains tricky to some, but it’s the pronunciation that has customers, new employees, and significant others confused.

According to Andrew, there’s a simple way to think of the pronunciation:

Clay + V + OH

And there you have it, the tale of Klaviyo.

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