It's almost four years since we launched Riot, and it's been a crazy journey - going from a relatively bare bones Matrix app through to today's all-singing, all-dancing encrypted-by-default collaboration tool used by folks ranging from Mozilla to the French Government and beyond.
However, as some may know, we’ve had a few problems with the name Riot over the years. Firstly, the biggest by far has been from a certain large games company that has consistently blocked us from being able to trademark Riot or even Riot.im - which has been a huge issue when it comes to defending users against abusive forks of the app. We’re in a terrible position if someone forks Riot using the same or similar name and logo, makes some dubious changes, and we can’t take action to persuade the app stores to remove it.
Secondly, we picked the name “Riot” to evoke something disruptive and vibrant - like a “riot of colour.” There’s a reason the loading animation on the mobile apps has been of the logo running riot through completely different versions of the logo. However, many people hear the word Riot and assume that the app is focused on violence - which it is not.
Finally, we’ve found that users can get very confused by the different brands that surround Riot. We can’t get away from the fact that Riot builds on Matrix rather than being yet another siloed communication app (and it's very deliberate that Riot is not named after Matrix). However, how come Riot is made by a company called New Vector? Why should I get a server for Riot from Modular, and what do they have to do with Riot or New Vector? What’s RiotX? After all, when I use Slack, it’s made by a company called Slack, who provide hosting called… Slack. Likewise Discord. Likewise Rocket.chat and many others. Back in 2016 it may have made sense to create three different brands (Riot, Modular, New Vector) to spell out the modularity of the ecosystem - but nowadays there are lots of other Matrix clients, vendors and hosting providers that demonstrate perfectly the diversity of the Matrix ecosystem.
Therefore, we’ve decided to rename Riot (and New Vector, and Modular).
The new name will be announced in a few weeks once we’re ready, but we wanted to give everyone a heads up so it doesn’t come as a shock.
This is obviously a bold move: we’ve spent four years building up Riot’s reputation and persuading everyone to move their friends, families and teams onto it. Renaming is inevitably going to cause some confusion. We know that many of you reading this will have put their neck on the line to get folks to adopt Riot, and we really appreciate how frustrating it may be to have to explain the change to your users.
However, we are extremely confident that now is the right time to fix the name. We’re in the process of landing gigantic improvements to Riot’s user experience and usability which will unrecognisably improve the app. So unrecognisably, in fact, that we can shed our skin and celebrate our long-awaited transition into being a truly mainstream-usable app. And most importantly, we’ve finally found a name which we’re really excited about (much more than we ever were about Riot!), and we hope you’ll like it too!
So… watch this space. We’re going to have our heads down for the next few weeks while we pull together all the waves of improvements we have in flight, and then all shall be revealed.
Thanks for using and supporting Riot. We’ll see you on the other side!
Matthew, Amandine & all of New Vector (and Riot, and Modular)
P.S. discussion over at HN