I recently came across this term while examining a set of properties in a JSON feed relating to a startup company:

 "deadpooled_year": null,
 "deadpooled_month": null,
 "deadpooled_day": null,
 "deadpooled_url": null,

I searched for the word, and find several non-authoritative sources (e.g., The Urban Dictionary), but nothing definitive. I gather it means something like "defunct" or "obsoleted" — handed over to the pool of dead companies which have been surpassed and made irrelevant by other, more successful companies. I also infer that it is a fairly well known term used in the startup lexicon. Yet this is the first time I've encountered it.

Can anyone shed some light on the term "deadpool" or "deadpooled"? A citation from a serious publication that uses the term in a way that makes the meaning obvious and unmistakeable? Please, no speculation. I have already speculated enough about this.

  • 2
    Setting aside the place I found it, it seems to mean something apart from what a programmer chose to call something. So I disagree that it's too localized. There are attributions, as I say, in non-authoritative sources; I'm asking for a proper attribution.
    – Robusto
    Dec 16, 2011 at 14:50
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    Obviously those who voted to close haven't an interest in changing language, and could not get past the way I discovered this word, nor that has much wider application than you allow.
    – Robusto
    Dec 17, 2011 at 14:58
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    "Dot-Com Deadpool" was already in use in June, 2000.
    – MetaEd
    Jul 8, 2012 at 19:40
  • @ΜετάEd: That Salon.com article uses "Dot-com deathwatch" but their subject Fuckedcompany.com used the dot-com deadpool as their tagline in at least August 2000, and probably a bit earlier. This probably started the IT use, and I expect generated a verb somewhere, but I've only found nouns there.
    – Hugo
    Aug 25, 2012 at 10:30
  • @Hugo The Salon article is older than the Wayback Machine's archive. The article, dated 6 June 2000, already describes Fuckedcompany.com as a "riff off the Celebrity Dead Pool Web site". That dates Fuckedcompany.com's use of the tagline to before 6 June 2000.
    – MetaEd
    Aug 27, 2012 at 13:47

2 Answers 2


Deadpool, deadpooled and deadpooling have been used hundreds of time by the popular blog TechCrunch. They tag with DEADPOOL posts about companies and startups that have folded, or other things considered deprecated. The related CrunchBase has the deadpooled category for companies.

Some citations:

  • 2007: "None of the recent startups (renkoo, socializr, mypunchbowl and the deadpooled Skobee) have presented much of a challenge."

  • 2008: "The founders of Snaptalent say there’s nothing else available that competes directly with their offering (although deadpooled Edgeio came the closest)."

  • 2008: "TechCrunch DeadPooled My Company And All I Got Was This Lousy iPod Shuffle"

  • 2009: "DeliveryEdge Tumbles Into The Deadpool ... We predicted that the company might suffer the same fate as Kozmo, which burned through $280 million in capital before it was deadpooled in 2001."

  • 2009: "I’m deadpooling this .ECO top level domain right now. Not because it’s global warming/eco related, there’s plenty of money being thrown around to support just about every crazy green idea out there. I just don’t think the world needs another top level domain"

  • 2010: "Sukornyk is a serial entrepreneur with a mixed track record. Previously he co-founded the X-Stream Network (a free ISP in Europe sold to LibertySurf for $75 million), Bubbleshare (photo-sharing site sold to Kaboose for a couple million dollars, and then deadpooled), and FiveLimes (a green shopping site sold to Avid Life Media, which now appears to be defunct)."

  • 2011: "Judy’s Book was founded in early 2004. Competitors include Yelp, insiderpages, Craigslist and Citysearch. The company was deadpooled in October 2007. In October 2008 Judy’s book relaunched with new owners."

TechCrunch first used it as a noun in "the TechCrunch DeadPool" in 2006:

Well, the inevitable is starting to happen - a few new web startups are starting to close up shop as they find that building an application is a lot easier than getting users to try it out, and keep coming back. Fold.com, an Ajax home page, has folded. [...]

In anticipation of the inevitable thinning of new web startups, I’ve added the tag “DEADPOOL” to our Company & Product Index. Hopefully we won’t be using that tag too often in the near future.

Their earliest verb use I found is from 2007:

Time To DeadPool TailRank? You Decide. [...]

Should TailRank Be DeadPool’d?

  • Viagra? DeadPool It
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    Against all the odds, you seem to have nailed the actual "coinage" for the database fields, by Michael Arrington in that TechCrunch 2006 link. I don't much rate the question, but I feel I must upvote this answer for sheer diligence! :) Dec 16, 2011 at 18:26
  • Seems they've extended the concept of a celebrity death pool, to a corporate death pool.
    – slim
    Dec 17, 2011 at 17:00

Google tells me that Deadpool is a Marvel Comics character.

Prior to that, a "Dead Pool" refers to a somewhat macabre game, in which people bet on which celebrities will die first, and taking its name from a conventional betting pool.

In the programming context you cite, it's likely that the coder has taken the words, and applied them to a pool of resources that have served their useful purpose.

There doesn't seem to be any precedent for using it as a verb, although "pool" can of course be used as a noun. In informal use, of course, it's quite common to verb nouns. "Verbing nouns funnies English".

  • You're thinking of a death pool (more specifically, a celebrity death pool).
    – Synetech
    Sep 17, 2012 at 18:28
  • For the programming comment, the JSON snippet in the question looks like what is in some CrunchBase JSON output so it's probably related to TechCrunch/CrunchBase like mentioned in english.stackexchange.com/a/51945/32044 Dec 8, 2013 at 13:53

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