The rise of al-Qaeda offshoot ISIS has led to at least one similarly named company, the former Isis Wallet, to rebrand itself. But Isis Pharmaceuticals ($ISIS), which has been in business for 25 years and owns the eponymous ticker, has to this point refused to back away from its moniker. Now, days after the other ISIS carried out attacks in Paris that left more than 100 people dead, the biotech is considering a name change.
"Even though people know we're not associated with the terrorist group, the name itself has so many negative connotations," Isis Vice President D. Wade Walke told CNN Money, adding that the company hasn't made a final decision on whether to abandon its long-held name.
The Isis-ISIS issue first came up last year, when founder and CEO Stanley Crooke faced repeated questions about what it was like to do business under a suddenly infamous name. But Crooke and company remained obstinate, insisting that their customers and shareholders would never confuse a drug developer for a global terrorist outfit.
|Isis CEO Stan Crooke|
"It drives me crazy," Crooke told CNBC's Jim Cramer in September 2014. "But we're not a retail company. Our investors should be sophisticated, and we've been Isis for 25 years, and I don't feel like I want to capitulate to these terrorists by changing my name. They can change their name."
And they have. Last year, the group shortened its name to simply Islamic State, or IS. Further complicating matters, the U.S. Department of State, which formerly called the group ISIL, has more recently referred to it as Daesh, echoing its allies in the region.
But still it is "ISIS" that remains on headlines and chyrons around the world, and on the minds at Crooke's company. The terrorist group's rising profile hasn't adversely affected business in any way, Walke told CNN, but "subliminally, it can't help."
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