The Story Behind Our Pluses...


If you’ve followed Cahoots at all over the years, you’ll know we like pluses — a lot. So, where did they come from, and why?

We shared the story of our pluses first hand, three years ago at the first Intermitten conference. In fact, you can see how we framed the origin of our ++ symbol on YouTube around 30:30 of this talk….


In the technology world, “++” is commonly used in programming languages to act as an increment operator.


This means when you append a variable, with a “++” it tells the program to add one increment to the operand. The result is the value of the variable is increased by one. Likewise, “- -” would decrease the variable by one and “ ==” is often used to check if two values are equal to each other.

This concept has been around for a long time. It was first introduced by Ken Thompson around 1969 in the B programming language.

Our use of two pluses in branding Cahoots is by no means an original concept. Because “++” has been a universal operator in computer programming for so long, it gets referenced in many different forms by all kinds of different people, companies, and projects all of the time for a multitude of reasons.

As a result, we see an enumerable number of people using some form of “++” in their branding all over the place…

Image search of “++ logo” on Google.

Image search of “++ logo” on Google.


Even beyond the world of tech, people everywhere seem to have a general fascination with pluses, which can be observed in the sheer quantity of plus symbol themed pillows alone.

This has certainly helped out when it comes to decorating the Cahoots tech hub with everything from wallpaper to end tables, all readily available in the wildly popular plus shape.

We love how every time we see a plus symbol decoration around the buildings we are reminded about the Cahoots mission to support entrepreneurs and help our community thrive!

That’s what this all boils down to for us — helping entrepreneurs and our community. We see Cahoots as adding one increment to an already vibrant and exciting tech ecosystem in Ann Arbor. If we were to write it out in code it would read “A2_Tech_Ecosystem++;” For us, Cahoots was the result. We hope our investment in creating a world-class tech hub in Ann Arbor will inspire others to also add more unique elements to the growing technology sector in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Midwest, and beyond.

Now, I’d like to take one last moment to talk about the flag design and the precise layout of our “++” at Cahoots. We wanted to put our plus brand symbol on a flag to further symbolize the concept of disruption inherent in startup culture through a design reference to piracy. We felt a flag with a black field and bold white pluses was a perfect analogy. I was surprised to find how much is written about aspect ratios for flag design…

Aspect ratio of flags

Golden rectangle flags

Personally, I’ve always had a thing for the Golden Ratio. It comes up everywhere in nature. Since math is the common language of the Universe and computer science is just an extension of math, it followed that our flag would naturally incorporate the ratio as well. After a few painstaking days with a calculator, I was able to arrive at a place where both the flag area and plus shape dimensions are based off of the Golden Ratio. To me, the results feel strong, balanced, and timeless.

If the calculations are wrong in some way, please just don’t tell me :)

If the calculations are wrong in some way, please just don’t tell me :)

Guy Suter