Over the past year, I've been slowly collecting a list of domain names of startups, mostly funded companies.
The majority of the domain names of these companies are either off-brand or are using an alternative extension to .com, like .ai, .io, or .co. Most are using an alternative extension and the majority would benefit from owning the exact match .com to their respective branding.
Now that we have the above covered, let's get to the data. I’m not going to share any of the specific domains.
Overall, the data is from a little over 1,100 domains that I consider to be the “upgrade” .com version to the current domain the startup uses. All of the upgrade domains are realistically obtainable by purchasing the domain from its current owners. The majority of the upgrade domains are not developed, underused, or once used in a past business that may have been acquired by another brand which was then dissolved, etc. (some of the startups have acquired the upgrade domains since I started collecting the names and shared this info)
- Average creation date: 5/28/2000.
- Average domain length without TLD: 6.71 characters.
The average age of the “upgrade” domain name was created over 20 years ago! Most of these startups are using starter domains that were registered more recently.
From a domain investor's standpoint, putting a focus and small radius around the creation date of 2000 would be a good starting point. Similar could be said about character length of 7 and a small radius around that.
Using some more real world data and putting the above information to shared details by yours truly last year: Uniregistry Brokerage sales data, these companies are going for the top-shelf inventory!
In 2018, from the sales data article linked above, I had noted: “Of the 58 domains that sold for more than $100k, the average length was 5.8 characters” and all of those were .com domains. Also from the sales article, for $10k-$99,999 the average character length was 8.
Most of the 1,100 domains in this new dataset are falling around that $100k plus range due to the 6.71 average length, being a fair amount lower than the 8 character length average and about 1 point below the all top tier domains that sold in 2018.
Continuing on and breaking down these 1,100 “upgrade” domains some more, I used a personal English Dictionary based tool with my own personally created dictionary—it’s not perfect but gives us a good overall picture to help us see it differently:
"Type" break down using an English dictionary:
- 1 word: 384
- 2 word: 313
- 3 word: 10
- 2-4 characters: 188
- Others that didn't match dictionary words, my include numbers, unique brand spelling, etc.: 280
From the Uniregistry sales data article, I shared the above breakdown as well and I would say the clear winner on the larger datasets were 2-word domains, but with this smaller 1,100 domains dataset, the 1-word is the clear leader with 384 vs 313 two word domains. That was interesting to me. From the sales data, the 2-word sales were often 5, 6, 7 times greater than 1-word domain sales.
I’m not sure if the “sale” aspect plays a role or if more companies are trying to be one word English dictionary brands. It could be a combination of both.
Does domain registrar play a part or provide a pattern?
It didn’t jump out at me if it does. GoDaddy was by far the largest registrar of the upgrade domains from the list of 1,100. They held 294 total and I didn’t include WildWest domains, GoFrance domains etc. which GoDaddy also owns. Network Solutions held 139, Uniregistry held 62, Tucows held 67 and corporate registrars MarkMonitor 34 and CSC 46 were others that held higher amounts. GoDaddy is the world’s largest domain name registrar, so it didn’t surprise me that they held over double to NSI which was second.
Again, I want to express that of the 1,100 domains I used are IMO realistically obtainable, which means that if a large corporation owned the domain, it was not currently behind an active website or brand. If a fair market offer was made, there would be a realistic chance of the domain selling. I even left out domains that are owned by a few domain name investors that often ask unrealistic pricing, even if a very good offer is presented.
The above numbers are just that, not about one registrar being better than the other. Interestingly and strictly my opinion, a lot of domains in the 1,100 list are not owned by domain investors. Many are older companies, individuals with a personal connection in some way to the terms like surnames, nicknames, hometowns, past companies and the likes. Don’t get me wrong, a lot were owned by domain investors but it was interesting to see the amount that were not.
The domain name sales data from Uniregistry Brokerage from 2016-2018 contains some nice info that can help set metrics for domain investors to focus on.
Using the data of 1,100 domains of funded startups that could/should upgrade to the best .com domains, it runs fairly true with the sales data shared prior as noted. These are some aged domains, that are an average of over 20 years old already and owned by somebody already.
Startups are naming with an average length of 6.71 characters which can create a pricey exact match brand .com domain due to the metrics of domain sales and scarcity of the top-tier names. The Covid-19 pandemic is driving huge amounts of companies online, so powerful branding continues to be important.
The trends continue with this smaller dataset and actually shows increased demand for 1 word .com brand domains, so if you are buying domains that are 20+ characters and not English dictionary terms, they might be a hard sell.