It wasn’t Search.com that became THE search engine but Yahoo at first and Google later. Just as Amazon became the online bookstore and not Bookstore.com. Although a name is extremely important to any company you could say that online companies have historically been looking for the stranger names to build a brand on. Flickr, Del.icio.us, Digg, all names that need to be explained and aren’t very self-explanatory.
In general, companies come up with a plan or technology and then go and look for a funny and noteworthy name which, very important, is still available as a domain name. If it isn’t available they simple add ‘ster’, ‘r’ or ‘le’ to the end and/or leave a few vowels out. The good news is that these domain-names can be registered for only a few dollars. The bad news is that these names then have to build into a brand which might take millions.
Venture Capitalist Mike Mann of WashingtonVC has a different approach. He invests in expensive but self-explanatory domainnames like Software.com, Phone.com, Graphics.net, RockConcerts.com and HappyBirthday.com. Once he has acquired these domains Mann, and his partners, come up with a business that takes advantage of the natural flow of traffic from people who want software and try getting it by typing ‘software.com’ in their browsers and hope for the best.
Just last month WashingtonVC launched The Download Superstore (Guaranteed and Virus Free) on Software.com and a ‘Next generation full service telecommunications’ company on Phone.com. They had acquired these domains earlier for a rumored 7 million+.
Today DomainMarket.com and WashingtonVC announced the acquisition of VaticanCity.com, NorthernIreland.com, Angola.com, Cameroon.com, IvoryCoast.com, Mali.com, Namibia.com and Rwanda.com. They are planning on building a ‘nextgen geo specific portal with each domain we acquire focusing on the targeted region’s Business, Travel, Nonprofit, and Social opportunities’.
Some people will say that anyone willing to spend millions on a domain-name is out of his mind. But when you think about it it starts to make sense: you either spend nothing on a name and millions on marketing or nothing on marketing and millions on a name. But all that money you invest in marketing is just gone. It isn’t invested, it is spent. A good domain-name will likely only increase in value.
These entrepreneurs reversed the standard model of coming up with an idea and then a name. They focus on great domain-names and then try to build great companies based on that.