Two years ago, when Toronto-based entrepreneur Paul Walker was starting a new software company, he got inspiration for its name from one of his lead investors, a former CEO at the company he used to work for.
“When he left the company as CEO, he moved to a farm. He was really the one that was aware of the grackle. He knows that they’re a kind of bird that communicates a lot; they’re a very chatty bird,” Walker said.
The bird inspired Grackle Docs, a software company that makes Google’s free tools such as Docs and Sheets more accessible to the visually impaired. Like a chatty grackle, the software makes it easier to have documents read out loud.
Walker, who worked in document composition software for several years before coming up with the idea for Grackle Docs with a colleague, said that he and his partner saw an opportunity in bringing to Google’s tools features that Microsoft already does well with its Office products. “We were seeing that Google was missing that capability, and it really focused me on making it a business venture,” Walker said.
The grackle isn’t just in the company’s name; it’s also prominent in the Grackle Docs logo, which was crowdsourced through the website DesignCrowd. Walker said dozens of designers around the world took a crack at designing a look, and they ended up with a handful of favorites they could show off to friends and colleagues. The end result is a striking reverse silhouette of the bird inside what looks like a speech bubble. “It’s one of the very first things we did,” Walker said.
Walker said that the grackle’s presence isn’t limited to farms in Canada; that’s one thing Toronto has in common with Austin. “I believe they are a bird that’s very common to this area,” he said.