What type of domain names do Unicorns own? In business, a Unicorn is a startup that is valued at over $1 billion, and as you may expect, they usually have the budget for high value domain name purchases to help to promote their brand online. According to Fortune, there are 176 Unicorns in existence, and in this article we examine the top 100 in this list to see the type of domains typically used.
Two-letter .COM domains have proved to be a highly desirable investment, with many Chinese investors buying up this type of domain in the past twelve months. This exclusive category of domain name also proves to be a valuable asset for companies too.
On the list of the top 100 Unicorns, three companies were actively using a two-letter .COM domain. Xiaomi, the second most valuable Unicorn, uses the domain Mi.com, which it purchased in 2014 for a fee of $3.6mm. This purchase was made, according to the company, to ensure that the company didn’t have any branding or spelling issues in a Western market.
Another Chinese company, Lufax, use the domain Lu.com. This peer-to-peer lending company upgraded from Lufax.com. The third Unicorn using a two-letter .COM is California based Machine Zone, which purchased MZ.com recently. According to reports at the time, the domain had an asking price of $3.25mm, but a price has never been revealed.
Two of the Unicorns use a three-letter .COM; DJI and Jet. DJI Innovations is a Chinese company that produces commercial aerial systems. The company purchased the domain name DJI.com via Sedo in 2013 for a fee of $300,000. This is quite an upgrade from the domain DJI-Innovations.com, which the company used for many years before buying this three-letter .COM.
Jet.com is a privately held ecommerce company that has raised over $820mm in funding, after being founded by entrepreneur Marc Lore. Marc sold his previous company, Diapers.com, to Amazon in 2010. Five years later, he launched Jet.com. The domain Jet.com was sold by domain investor Gary Chernoff in 2014.
There are nine companies in this list that use four-letter .COM domains. These four-letter .COMs are made up of both brandable names such as Lyft.com as well as dictionary domains like Wish.com. There are a few companies in this category that spark interest.
According to Fortune’s list, Uber is the most valuable Unicorn with an estimated value of $51 billion. The company acquired Uber.com from Universal Music Group after initially launching using the domain UberCab.com. Reports at the time suggested that Uber offered 2% of their company to Universal in exchange for the domain.
Another company using a four-letter .COM is Grab, which acquired Grab.com earlier this year after rebranding from GrabTaxi, in a similar move to Uber. The name was owned for many years by a company called Grab Games in what was surely a seven figure deal.
Other companies using four-letter .COMs include Deem (Deem.com), Social Finance (SoFi.com) and Domo (Domo.com).
Just five out of the 100 companies we checked use a non .COM domain. These five companies include two that use a .ME domain; Ele and Tango. Ele is a Chinese company that offers a customer-to-customer meal ordering service, and has raised over $2 billion since being founded in 2008.
Tango is a free mobile messaging app, so it could be argued that a traditional web presence is less important for this company. Tango.com forwards to the Facebook page for a British drinks brand, so .ME may be seen as one of the best alternatives.
Other non .COM domains include SkyScanner (SkyScanner.net) and Avito (Avito.ru), which is a Russian classified ads website.
I thought it may be interesting to note in passing that two companies in the top 100 use .COM domains with hyphens. The first is Trendy International Group, a Chinese fashion and lifestyle company. The second is Global Fashion Group, which uses the truly awful global-fashion-group.com domain. The company employs more than 10,000 people across its huge range of international brands.
One-Word .COMs (Including four-letters or less): 14
Finally in our analysis is the one-word .COM category. Including one-word .COMs that are four letters or less, there are 14 out of 100 companies using a one-word .COM. These include the aforementioned Uber and Jet.com, as well as companies such as The Honest Company (Honest.com), which was founded by actress Jessica Alba.
The Honest Company bought Honest.com via GoDaddy in 2011 for a fee of $180,000. Other companies in this category include online payment company Stripe (Stripe.com), Vice Media (Vice.com) and Legendary Entertainment (Legendary.com).