• IBM announced Kyndryl as the name of the legacy IT services business unit it will spin off later this year
• Reaction was swift and mocking as industry watchers collectively wondered what a brand master like IBM was thinking with the Kyndryl name.
When IBM disclosed plans in 2020 to shed its legacy IT services business at some point in 2021, the company emphasized that the move would allow it to concentrate on higher profit margin services. Industry watchers touted this as a way for IBM to become more of a pure-play cloud provider untethered from the challenge of managing a behemoth. Words like “dynamic”, “agile”, and “innovative” were bandied about but only minimal attention was directed toward what would become of the spin-off known as NewCo at the time.
That changed this week with the announcement of the future spin-off’s new moniker: Kyndryl. Critics reacted with skepticism almost instantly to the questionable name. Coming from a company as seasoned in branding as IBM, the rather odd name raised eyebrows and elicited questions. What is a Kyndryl? Kyndryl rhymes with Kindle? Why does Kyndryl sound more like a Kardashian than a company?
In the release announcing the name, IBM described Kyndryl as the “modern adaption of two words that are central to the new company’s identity and mission,” IBM said it is meant to evoke the new business’ value that relationships are core to its strategy which is designed to work to “advance human progress.” Kyn has its origin in the word kinship. “Dryl” is meant to suggest the word “tendril” which IBM says brings “to mind new growth.”
If anything, the explanation only made the name sound more ill-conceived. And it certainly deflates the introduction as an independent company of what most see as the stodgy side of IBM’s business. The business, which will be led by veteran IBM executive Marin Schroeter, will essentially consist of IBM’s current Technology Services arm. Kyndryl is projected to have $19 billion in revenues and 4,600 clients.
When IBM jettisons Kyndryl completely later this year, it will retain its cloud business, Red Hat, and its suite of artificial intelligence, analytics, and security solutions.