Visio Trivia

The product name “Visio” was selected from a collection of product names suggested by Terry Heckler, principal of Heckler Associates. Heckler’s first-choice recommendation was “Graw,” an amalgam of graphics and draw. Graw was later used by Jeremy Jaech, Ted Johnson, and Peter Mullen when they founded The Graw Group (which eventually changed its name to Trumba Corporation).

The distinctive VISIO typography, the four shapes logo, and the Visio company logo were all designed by Tim Girvin, principal of GIRVIN | Design (view Girvin’s Case Study on Visio).

The original company name, Axon Corporation, was set up by Jeremy Jaech shortly after he left Aldus in 1989 as a placeholder for whatever company he may eventually start. Due to Axon’s usage in other states, we changed the company name shortly before initial product launch. We hastily settled on Shapeware, a play on the word software that highlighted Visio’s use of premade shapes. We were embarrassed just days after product launch when a local department store ran a newspaper ad for “shapewear.”

When asked in 1995 to help find a new company name, Terry Heckler, who had created the product name Visio, suggested we simply change the company name to Visio, too. He cited The Coca-Cola Company as one which had done very well with the same name as its first product.

In late 1991, when we were developing the business plan for the second round of venture funding, the company’s leadership worked with Regis McKenna, Inc., the marketing consulting firm founded by Regis McKenna, and high technology consultant Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm, perhaps the seminal text on high technology market development.

Beginning with the Visio 1.0 product launch, the company’s public relations agency was Waggener Edstrom, the same firm used by Microsoft.

Menlo Park, CA-based Technology Venture Investors (TVI) provided Visio (then Axon) with $800,000 of first-round venture funding in early 1991. Among TVI’s early investments was Microsoft, where it was the sole investor. John Johnston represented TVI on Visio’s Board of Directors. Johnston and TVI co-founder Dave Marquardt later co-founded August Capital in 1995.

Jeremy and Ted were introduced to Dave Marquardt of TVI by John Kryzanowski, private client banking manager at the San Francisco office of investment bank Alex. Brown & Sons. His introduction directly led to Visio being funded. Kryzanowski had been part of the Alex. Brown team that facilitated Aldus’ IPO in 1987.

Visio secured $3.5 million in second round of venture funding in March 1992 from first-round funder Technology Venture Investors (TVI) and Silicon Valley powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB). Doug Mackenzie joined Visio’s Board to represent KPCB.

Visio Corporation went public on November 9, 1995 in an Initial Public Offering of 2,470,000 shares at $16.00 per share. The IPO was led by investment banks Alex. Brown & Sons Incorporated and Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. Alex. Brown was later acquired by Bankers Trust in 1997 which, in turn, was acquired by Deutsche Bank in 1999. Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase during the financial crisis of 2008.