A Great Domain Name Is a “Signal of Quality”

Again from ThisWeekInStartups.com, the Jason Calacanis ustream.tv show. It’s a great show, and the experience of watching it live has turned out to be a little bit addictive. Check out #TWIST on Twitter. Jason is simply Twitter.com/Jason.

In this audio clip from ‘Jason’s Shark Tank’, Jason tells caller/developer Kevin, of pikk.com what he likes about what Kevin’s created so far.

Signals of Quality

Jason Calacanis: Everyone should follow you on Twitter obviously, Pikk. You have that up and running, and you have a four letter domain name. These are, again, signals of quality for me. You have a decent domain name decent web design. I’m  not crazy about your web design, to be totally honest with you I think it’s a 7 or 8 out of 10 but, listen, Mahalo was a 6 out of 10 at one point, now it’s a 10 out of 10, so, it’s progress you know, and I can appreciate that. Smart enough to pick a four letter domain, great – how did you get the domain was that available or you bought it.
Kevin: I bought it.
Jason: Yeah, how much did that cost you?
Kevin: Ah, I’ve been told I got the bargain of the century, this cost me about twenty-five hundred dollars.
Jason: That’s a great deal.
Kamran Pourzanjani: Yeah.
Jason: For a four letter domain…

You’re Going To Wind Up With A Dot Com

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s another Jason Calacanis audio clip from This Week In Startups, episode 29.

Jason on ‘Dot Com’

The context is a domain/brand a caller mentioned in a previous ‘Ask Jason’ segment.

Jason Calacanis: Isn’t it amazing though Tyler? The people with the naming.
Tyler Crowley: I just found out… I think lean.ly is available. With the dot L-Y which seems to be the hot new…
Jim Lanzone: Hmm!
Jason: Oh…
Tyler: Don’t get you started with that?
Jason: gov.ly? (refers to earlier in the conversation)
Tyler: gov.ly?
Jason: gov.ly
Tyler: lov.ly gov.ly
Jason: lov.ly gov.ly… I hate that nonsense.
Tyler: Yeah.. L-Y’s catchin’ on, so is dot F-M
Jason: (Sighs)
Tyler: But it gives people more of an option to come up with names… You use Bit.ly all day long!
Jason: You know what, De.licio.us did this as well, and then when they were successful they wound up buying Delicious dot com.
You’re going to wind up with a dot com anyway, You might as well make the effort and spend the money to get it early. So you don’t have to re-brand it!

Domains Are Brands – Square Squareup.com Fever Feedafever.com

I wasn’t the only one scratching his head when I read the TechCrunch story announcing Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s new, very cool, credit card reading startup. It’s called ‘Square’. But the domain is squareup.com. Here’s Elliot Silver’s take (links to full post)

TechCrunch reported today that Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter, has launched a mobile payment service called Square. While the actual product/service looks pretty cool, I am surprised that someone with the capital resources such as Dorsey would launch a new brand on a domain name that is different from the actual brand.The big problem for Square is that they are using the domain name SquareUp.com for their website. This really defies logic to me for a couple of big reasons…

Exactly! Can’t afford it? Not worth it? It’s just a domain name? But it is difficult to supply the facts that support our side of the argument. The best evidence I’ve come across that supports, with data, the efficacy of a great (generic) domain name comes from Edwin Hayward at MemorableDomains.co.uk with a report entitled Improving PPC Search Engine Campaign Results Using Generic Domain Names (check out Ed Keay-Smith’s OzDomainer podcast interview with Edwin where he explains the report!) Still, that makes sense for PPC and generic domain names. But is branding any different? How? I’ll leave that for the comments and for another post. In the meantime I’d like to focus on this aspect alone: Why call your company one thing, Square, but have a different URL? If you can’t afford the domain name, at least call the company after the domain you do own!

Here’s another case. I may come back to this over time. When I first heard about ‘Fever’ it sounded interesting (I’m into feeds and feed readers). But I couldn’t find it! I’d heard about it on a podcast. It literally took minutes to find. Fever.com is a parked page with illness related ads popping up. Hmm, just curious, how expensive would Fever.com be? But maybe a lot. Because a domainer could be holding out for a play from a big pharmaceutical. So ‘Fever’ uses the domain feedafever.com. Not bad. Reasonably memorable. So why not call the product that? As/if Fever continues to gain momentum, I’ll update the Compete pics. but check it out. Don’t the numbers seem to be indicating, that as momentum for Fever grows, more traffic is being sent to the parked Fever.com page?

November 2, 2009

A month later.

Doesn’t it look like for whatever reason, Fever.com is getting more traffic?
What do you think? Is that extra traffic likely to be people looking for ‘Fever’?
What makes me nervous about all this is thinking about what will happen to the price of the domain over time if/when Fever becomes very popular.
Like I mention in a previous post, $75,000 for Poken.com?!!!
Acquire your startup domain names early!
If you’re starting a company I’m happy to help brainstorm an available domain name or help you connect with a great domain at a fair price.

Entrepreneurship 101 – Name Your Company The Same As Your Domain Name

From Jason Calacanis of Mahalo and ThisWeekInStartups.com TWIST Episode 16.

Listen to the clip

Jason Calacanis –   … Number one, the name is terrible… If the name of the company is Aardvark you should own Aardvark dot com. They only own Vark dot com. I mean this is like 101 entrepreneurship stuff like name your company the same as your domain name.  I don’t know, what’s the domain name of Challenge Post?
Brandon Kessler –  It’s ChallengePost.
Jason Calacanis – (sarcastic) Oh is it? Really? Do you wanna know the domain name of Mahalo, by chance? It’s Mahalo.com. Do you know where to find This Week In Startups?  That dot com. You know where to find Aardvark? Drop the a-a-r and the d,  and then put a dot com.
Aaron Vohen – What if they were thinking people don’t know how to spell Aardvark? They would try A-r-d-v-a-r-k.
Jason Calacanis – It wasn’t available obviously, but I mean if you’re…

[Follow-up from TWIST 31]
Listen: Vark ll

Walking the walk.

Calacanis then laid out $11,000 for the domain name Mahalo.com, which, at one point, had been a nude-celebrity site.

Of course there are exceptions (when you’re a seed investor and on the board perhaps?).
TWiST #17 with Ryan Block and Peter Rojas 32:30

Listen to the clip

Jason Calacanis –  I love the logo to g-d-g-t… and you can call it gadget
Ryan Block / Peter Rojas – You can call it gadget,  yeah.
Jason – People can just call it gadget.
Peter Rojas – I say g-d-t-g just so people know how to spell the url.
Ryan Block – I’ve been saying gadget a little bit more lately, but…
Jason – Yeah, people will get it. Anyway… Great to get a four, was that four letter domain available?
Ryan Block / Peter Rojas – We had to buy it but we didn’t have to spend very much. We had to buy it but… surprisingly affordable.
Jason – Under a G?
Ryan – Yeah.
Jason – Oh perfect. I mean, it’s not even a rounding error.
Ryan – So what it actually was was they had like a catalog of just letters. You know, so like g-d-g-t, g-d-g-s, g-d-g-r…
Jason – Oh there just waiting for people to buy them. They’re like, (as in company receptionist), Hello, Domain Squatting Scumbags, how can we help you?  Which domain did we take of yours… bastards… that’s quite a business idea… I think I  ought to do that. Let’s do it with five letters. Probably didn’t get to five letters yet.

Little bit of a disconnect here considering Jason’s comments in TWIST 16. But certainly understandable considering what Gadget.com or Gadgets.com might cost (guessing $400k). Looks like Gadget.com is a real site, but Gadgets.com is parked. Perhaps Gadgets.com owners Domain Capital would consider some sort of equity/lease-to-own deal.
Jason is obviously kidding when he refers to the previous owners of GDGT.com as “Domain squatting scumbags”, but he’s been around the interwebs for a long time. A lot of people do see domain investors as squatters. But only be because someone else has registered a domain name they want. At least a domain investor (or ‘domainer’) is looking to sell the domain! Better a domainer than a competitor who has bought up all the keywords in your niche for the sole purpose of keeping them out of your hands!

I Did A Lot Of Reading

This will be a lightly posted blog where from time to time I’ll attempt to document one of my domain experiments. “Fail Fast!”. they say. Well I’m three years into an OCD relationship with domains and domaining and the only reason I may even yet be breaking even is because of what got me started in all this- a completely random Black Swan of a domain sale. I owned my name.com and a handful of ‘idea’ domains I had eventual plans for. Plans that would require a lot of development I couldn’t do myself. About 6 years ago I got an email with a $200 offer for one of my idea domains. What? A totally obscure name- a quote from Spinal Tap- You want to buy it?!! The idea was worth more to me than $200 so I passed. I heard from him a couple more times and about three years ago he came up with a mid 4 figure offer and I said sure. Since then I’ve been learning as much as I can about domains. I have a motley collection of around 300 names that are probably mostly extremely average. I’ve recently decided that the only way to really know their worth is to start trying to sell some.

Perhaps in the telling of some stories I’ll help a few people just starting out. Perhaps I’ll attract a mentor or at least some sage advice. Or maybe in the writing thereof, it will become apparent to me that I have no business trying to be a domainer- that I’m just not cut out for it.

Are you also in the newbie phase of your domaining career? I invite guest posts from anyone with a story to tell. If you see a post that inspires a comment, please consider writing a post instead. I promise minimal (but some) editorial oversight.