The colorful backstories behind the mascots of Boston tech

by Justine Hofherr
July 20, 2017

It’s not uncommon for companies to use animals to connect with customers.

Think The Energizer Bunny or Tony the Tiger both of which have household recognition most brands only ever dream of.

In Boston, a number of tech companies have hopped on the mascot bandwagon, choosing foxes, owls, mules and squirrels to represent their product and/or culture. Here are the stories behind seven of those famous creatures.

rapid7
Photo via Rapid7

Founded in 2000, Rapid7 was created to help companies find and fix their vulnerabilities while catching suspicious activity on their networks months before they’d notice it otherwise.

Responses via Alexandra Evans, account supervisor

What is Rapid7's mascot?

A moose.

How did you choose it and why?  

A former employee created it as a symbol of teamwork. Why?The singular of the word is moose is "moose." The plural of the word is also "moose." That is us...together, we are all "one moose."  

What effect does your mascot have on your company culture?

Our core values are celebrated every quarter (nominated by our people, for our people) with "Moose Awards." The winners receive a stuffed moose and a big cash prize. One employee drew an outline of our moose that now graces our headquarters lobby as a giant piece of art. We've won a Guinness Book record for creating the largest guitar pick mosaic filling the moose outline. Bottom line: our moose is a mindset that is woven into our culture every single day.

 

hopper
Photo via Hopper

Travel startup Hopper receives a real-time stream of consumer airfare search results from its flight search partners, collecting about 8 billion airfare price quotes every day.

Responses via Pantelis Korovilas, lead product designer

What is your mascot?

Our mascot is Hopper, the hopping bunny!

How did you choose it and why?

The bunny dates back to our founders, Fred Lalonde and Joost Ouwerkerk, and some of their earlier aspirations for the company being about discovery and enabling travelers to find and embark on unique journeys and experiences. A “hopper” embodies that openness and flexibility to travel and go to new places, and the bunny represents that — something that is bouncing around from place to place, from adventure to adventure.

What effect does your mascot have on your company culture?

The bunny affects our company culture in a number of ways, both large and small. Some I probably don't even realize. On an abstract level, the bunny as a symbol defines our group. The bunny is a quirky, playful and light-hearted symbol, and I’m not sure what came first — the culture or the bunny — but we are also a quirky, light-hearted bunch, and most of what we design is playful and always in the spirit of the love of travel and building fun product experiences. You feel that here. Conversations are at times difficult, sure, but we are always thinking playfully about how to build an experience that people will love and have fun with; one that they’ll enjoy, not just get use out of.

 

owl labs
Photo via Owl Labs

Founded by iRobot alumni Max Makeev and Mark Schnittman, Somerville-based startup Owl Labs is on a mission to create a video conferencing solution that better supports remote employees everywhere.

Responses via Rebecca Corliss, VP of marketing

What is your mascot?

Our mascot is an owl. We designed our mascot logo to reflect our brand and product design: sleek, simple and approachable.

How did you choose it and why?

We named our product the Meeting Owl as a hat tip to the bird's great sight and hearing. Owls also have the ability to turn their heads all the way around, and similarly the Meeting Owl gives a full 360° view to the remote participant. (However, the Meeting Owl does this via a single 360° lens with no moving parts!) The product also looks like an owl, and even has eyes that light up to indicate a meeting is in session. Everyone loves the eyes!

What effect does your mascot have on your company culture?

A running joke at Owl Labs is once you start working here or working with us, you start seeing "owls in the wild" everywhere you go. We find owl trinkets at neighborhood stores, abstract designs that slightly resemble an owl, owl shirts, owl stickers. You name it! We love our feathered friend.

sqrrl
Photo via Sqrrl

Responses via Kieran Green, marketing

Founded by a team of seven former U.S. government workers — including six from the National Security Agency — Sqrrl applies big data tech to cybersecurity, helping companies scan massive datasets of security information and find subtle anomalies that could indicate attacks.

What is your mascot?

If you couldn't tell from the name, our company mascot is a squirrel. In addition to every piece of squirrel memorabilia imaginable, we have “Edgar,” a stuffed squirrel who “lives” in our largest conference room.

How did you choose it and why?

Squirrel was the codename for a NSA project related to Acculumo who also are the founders of Sqrrl. Like all NSA projects the name was after an animal and a reference to “Secret Squirrel,” a 60s-era cartoon, given the nature of the “secret project,” whose basic premise was to ingest massive of data sets and find subtle connections of suspicious nature. "Secret Squirrel" is common slang term used in Washington to describe people who deal with highly classified material. The Acculumo technology was open sourced in 2011 and is now used for the foundation/backend tech of Sqrrl.

What effect does your mascot have on your company culture?

If you visited our office and didn’t know our company name yet, you’d think that the company is a gift card for the world’s largest “squirrel sanctuary.” You cannot move a square inch without stumbling across some squirrel-themed object (including but not limited to coffee mugs, small statues, framed comic books, key chains, stuffed animals, etc). To top things off, there’s even a “squirrel shrine” that has kneeling bench and all the upcoming software features on a monitor on the wall. Whether it’s all the squirrel swag, the love for the company, or the fact that the bulk of the company is primarily engineers (mostly from MIT), data scientists (mostly from NSA) and security technologists, there's certainly a quirkiness to Sqrrl that can be found in very few places.

 

yellingmule
Photo via Yelling Mule

YellingMule is a Boston web design company that provides custom website solutions, SEO, strategic user interface design, marketing and branding.

Responses via James Shiner, CEO

What is your mascot?

Our mascot is a mule named Otis. His name was the result of a social media contest we ran where our fans picked a name and we had a voting period to determine the best one.

How did you choose it and why?

Before we had a name we knew we wanted a mascot. After a long brainstorming session at a local bar tossing around names revolving around penguins, horses and sharks we finally landed on “Screaming Donkey.” Naturally, the next step was to check the domain availability and to our surprise it was taken, and even more surprising was that someone wanted $15,000 for it. After calling and finding out this was a real price and the owner wouldn’t budge, we decided to try “Yelling Mule,” and luckily that was available! Our goal was a cool, memorable name that could have a mascot and I think we nailed it. The logo today is the same logo as day one, except we took out the three lines coming from the mouth because it looked like he was throwing up and the “Puking Mule” jokes were starting to get old. Seven years later in a kickoff meeting with a new client, someone on their team told us that mules can not actually throw up.

What effect does your mascot have on your company culture?

Our mascot is great for our social media presence and also accompanies employees on vacations as part of the #OtisTravels series. He’s been to Germany, Jordan, Istanbul, Washington D.C., Nashville, Rhode Island, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and New Orleans and has some great trips coming up. You can follow his adventures on https://www.instagram.com/yellingmule/ and #OtisTravels.

 

airfox
Photo via AirFox

AirFox empowers wireless carriers with a platform to offer their subscribers more innovative and affordable mobile data plans.

Responses via Victor Santos, CEO

What is your mascot?

Our mascot is a fox flying through the air. It symbolizes agility and intelligence.

How did you choose it and why?

We are in an industry that is very calcified; both the software system providers and wireless carriers are extremely slow to innovate, operating in rigid legacy systems. The concept behind AirFox was to rethink the wireless operator and create software that enables them to become dynamic service providers. A fox is a swift, smart and cunning animal. The fox fits well with our company vision that by helping mobile operators become smarter and dynamic, we bring innovation to the entire value chain including the mobile subscribers. We want the whole telco industry to go from being dinosaurs to AirFoxes.  

What effect does your mascot have on your company culture?

It permeates with our internal idea that we want to bring more innovative software to the wireless telco industry with agility and intelligence. The fox worked well for us when resonating the value that we bring to our customers.

 

gopuff
Photo via goPuff

goPuff is an on-demand convenience store delivery service that brings you convenience store products to your doorstep.

Responses via Melissa Brown, Associate VP of 5W PR

What is your mascot?

Our mascot is a pufferfish named "Puff.”

How did you choose it and why?

We chose him because of the correlation with our name and we feel that the cute, and fun-loving nature of our pufferfish reflects our brand and what we stand for. It’s also unique and we like being different!

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