Unicorns. Aside from being mythical creatures, the term unicorn is also used to describe companies. In particular, privately held startup companies that are valued at $1 billion or more.
Most unicorn companies don’t start out by owning their best, exact-match .COM domain name. When a company starts its life, domain names aren’t necessarily a priority, so many opt for lesser names. Lesser names could include a prefix word (such as “Get” or “Try”), or they could be an alternative extension to .COM (such as .CO or .IO).
On their way to becoming a unicorn, many of these companies paid the sometimes vast amounts of money needed to acquire their exact-match .COM domain.
In some cases, this hasn’t happened for a variety of reasons. A prominent example is Voodoo, the French gaming studio operating on Voodoo.io while the domain parking service Voodoo uses the .COM equivalent.
Here, I’ve chosen a number of companies listed as having unicorn status, and have identified exactly when they acquired their best domain name. This is part one of a two-part article.
Domain Name: Blend.com
Previous Domain Name: BlendLabs.com
Upgrade Date: December 2016
Blend, the SaaS platform for lenders, was founded in 2012 as Blend Labs Inc. The company used BlendLabs.com up until December 2016, when it acquired Blend.com.
By that stage, Blend raised at least $60 million in funding, with a significant $40 million Series C round announced in January 2016. It’s possible that funds from this round helped in the decision to pursue and purchase Blend.com.
According to CB Insights, the company reached unicorn status in June 2019.
Domain Name: Postman.com
Previous Domain Name: GetPostman.com
Upgrade Date: May 2019
Billed as the collaboration platform for API development, Postman started life in 2014 in San Francisco operating on the GetPostman.com domain name.
From information I received privately, Postman.com was reportedly acquired by the company for $85,000 in a deal that occurred in May 2019. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in June 2019, Postman announced a $50 million Series B funding round.
Since then, the company has gone on to raise a further $150 million in funding, bringing Postman to unicorn status in June 2020.
Domain Name: Keep.com
Previous Domain Name: GoToKeep.com
Upgrade Date: September 2018
Chinese startup Keep is a mobile fitness community founded in 2014 in Beijing. Up until September 2018, the company used GoToKeep.com for their domain. After closing a $127 million funding round in July 2018, Keep upgraded to Keep.com.
This was speculated to be a seven- or eight-figure sale since Keep.com was owned and operated by Keep Holdings Inc, a successful company that was owned and operated by entrepreneur and original founder of About.com, Scott Kurnit.
Keep reached a $1 billion valuation in May 2020 as the result of an $80 million Series E funding round.
Domain Name: Podium.com
Previous Domain Name: Podium.co
Upgrade Date: August 2016
Founded in 2014, Podium has received regular backing from Y Combinator after the company participated in Y Combinator’s Winter 2016 demo day in March 2016.
I think the name Podium suits the company perfectly, as Podium was designed as a messaging platform to help businesses interact with customers. The company started life with Podium.co, but made the decision to upgrade to Podium.com in August 2016.
According to a DomainInvesting article, Media Options helped Podium acquire Podium.com from Nat Cohen’s Telepathy Inc in a deal that was suggested to be in the six-figure range.
This upgrade came months after Y Combinator’s pre seed funding, and several months before Podium announced their Series A funding of $32 million.
Domain Name: Dave.com
Previous Domain Name: TryDave.com
Upgrade Date: March 2017
Dave is a financial app that predicts a user’s spending. Backed by investors including Mark Cuban, Dave came into being in October 2016. By March 2017, the company had started using Dave.com, upgrading from TryDave.com.
A couple of months after Dave’s acquisition of Dave.com, I interviewed Dave’s founder, Jason Wilk. Jason told me that:
People are trusting us with their finances and TryDave.com just didn’t seem to give me the same confidence as Dave.com.
In April 2017, weeks after acquiring Dave.com, the company announced a $3 million seed funding round. Dave became a unicorn company in September 2019 following a $50 million Series B funding round.
Domain names play a key part in the online identity of any company, but the matter of acquiring your exact-match .COM domain seems more pressing for a company gaining traction on the way to a billion dollar valuation.
You’ll notice that in the data offered above, most companies have acquired their exact-match .COM domain just before or after a significant funding round. These unicorns have wisely invested a portion of funding into buying the best .COM name for their brand.
In part 2, released next week, I continue my look into domain acquisitions by unicorn companies and the timing of those acquisitions in relation to significant amounts of funding. Follow me on Twitter to get notified for part 2.