Strategy Scrutiny: Why Facebook Acquired Rooms.com For Messenger Rooms

Recently, Facebook announced the launch of a brand new service, Facebook Messenger Rooms, which is fundamentally a direct competitor to Zoom. By all accounts, Facebook is taking the best of Zoom and using their experience and engineering expertise to build a “better” product.

Around the same time, I noticed that Facebook had acquired the Rooms.com domain name. Not directly by Facebook, but through an intermediary. Their lawyers, to be precise. Facebook has used the firm Hogan Lovells to acquire several names in the past, so I’m 99% certain that Facebook is the buyer of Rooms.com. Names acquired using Hogan Lovells include Messenger.com, NewsFeed.com, and even Work.place.

Hogan Lovells also holds many Facebook brand domains and typos too. Three of the hundreds under their possession include FB.ninja, FBCandy.com, and even FacebookPizza.us.

Back to Rooms.com. The domain was acquired from a company called World Travel Holdings, which operates on the three-letter domain WTH.com. They also own valuable domains such as Cruises.com.

Before Facebook acquired Rooms.com, the name wasn’t in use. WTH didn’t develop it, but that doesn’t mean this was a cheap acquisition by Facebook. World Travel Holdings is a global leisure company with a reported user base of several hundred thousand customers. The Rooms.com domain also fits into their wheelhouse and would have been the perfect domain to offer hotel rooms at reduced rates – a competitive niche that needs a great domain to gain any traction.

We don’t know the price that Facebook paid for Rooms.com, but it would not be a surprise if the domain sold for $750,000 or more. In comparison, Room.com sold for $1.5 million in 2019.

It should come as no surprise that Facebook paid a significant sum of money to get the Rooms.com domain. The company is no stranger to paying a premium to get a specific domain. Take FB.com, for instance. At $8.5 million, it’s the largest publicly disclosed sale of a two-letter .COM in history.

The company’s strategy also seems to be to buy premium domains related to its products:

Messenger.com for Facebook’s popular messenger service.

F8.com for Facebook’s developer conference.

Groups.com for Facebook Groups.

NewsFeed.com, Facebook’s name for its primary way of displaying content.

Gameroom.com for Facebook’s PC Steam rival.

And now, Rooms.com. It should come as no surprise that Rooms.com was acquired, given this track record of Facebook pursuing premium .COM domains before a product launch. Facebook is one of the very few companies that put precedence in premium domains to help to market their products and to make them accessible for anyone to find. It’s also a comprehensive means of brand protection, something that Facebook excels at anyway.

What will Facebook do with Rooms.com? As of writing, they’ve done nothing with this name. Since Facebook’s Messenger Rooms has already launched, they may have considered forwarding the domain to an internal page relating to Messenger Rooms, but they haven’t.

Given Facebook’s history with the likes of Messenger.com and F8.com, they may use the domain to hold a standalone site to promote the service and explain its features in finer detail. I think this is the most likely course of action for Facebook, but they may simply forward the domain to a Facebook page, as they did with Groups.com.

 

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