On the MediaOptions blog, I've often focused on companies that have upgraded to a premium domain name sometime after their launch. The typical upgrade path focuses around businesses starting on a middling domain name that either contains a suffix or prefix or uses an alternative extension. The business then switches to its exact-match .com down the line.
JoinClubhouse.com to Clubhouse.com, Grove.co to Grove.com, and Exodus.io to Exodus.com are examples of traditional domain upgrades.
There is, however, another category of premium domain buyer: a company that wants or needs to rebrand. Here, I'm looking at 10 companies that have acquired a premium domain during a rebrand and the possible reasons behind the name change.
In October 2022, the Range.com domain name transferred from corporate registrar SafeNames to Google Domains and quickly became associated with Pylon, a financial planning platform founded in 2021.
With Pylon.com in use by Pylon AI, the financial planning platform originally settled for HelloPylon.com and used the HelloPylon moniker for its social media handles, too.
However, the company opted to rebrand from HelloPylon.com to Range.com, circumventing the issue of being unable to operate on Pylon.com.
Recruitment platform ZenSourcer started life in 2017, operating on ZenSourcer.net, a truly forgettable domain name.
It wasn't until 2019 that ZenSourcer opted to move away from its original brand name entirely, picking Gem as its new name. With a $9 million Series A funding round under its belt, Gem secured Gem.com in an undisclosed 7 figure lease to own deal.
Since its switch to Gem and Gem.com, the company has raised $137 million in further funding and in 2021, it reached a $1.2 billion valuation. Could it have achieved this as ZenSourcer?
Open-source calendar provider Calendso was created in 2020 as a side project by co-founder Peer Richelsen.
In September 2021, 5 months after publicly launching on Product Hunt, Calendso rebranded to the shorter Cal.com, using the domain as its brand name.
The rebrand resulted in a spike in new users, with Cal.com's open data revealing that the week before the name change, the company had 208 users. The week after rebranding to Cal.com, the total user number stood at 2,966. Growth has steadily continued. By the end of October 2022, the total user number stood at close to 38,000.
The rebrand seems to have been effective.
Software development platform Clubhouse was essentially forced into a rebrand after an audio app of the same name became one of the most popular social media platforms.
Audio app Clubhouse also secured Clubhouse.com as an upgrade from its original JoinClubhouse.com domain. The popularity of the audio app resulted in software company Clubhouse announcing a rebrand just months after the audio app launched.
Pet product brand TreatADog took the monumental decision to acquire Paw.com, a generic three-letter domain with obvious ties to the pet industry.
The company, which creates designer pet products, had sold over 500,000 pet products by the time it decided to rebrand. After 5 years and millions of dollars promoting the brand, TreatADog took the calculated risk to rebrand.
In an interview on the MediaOptions blog following the rebrand, Paw.com's founder David Gimes told me, "Since rebranding and launching our new website our sales and conversion rates have increased dramatically."
Bookkeeping startup Pilot started life as Zapgram, which the company stuck with for a year until it chose to abandon the brand name that, according to founder Waseem Daher, was universally hated.
A Substack newsletter from Daher outlined the process that his company went through to find a new name, with requirements that the new name should be "a single word that is spellable, pronounceable, and one where we could get the .com."
Ultimately, the company chose Pilot and secured Pilot.com for $400,000, purchasing the domain name directly from publishing company Hearst. The company has raised a total of $161.3 million in disclosed funding to date.
To stand out as a modern, trusted financial services platform, you need a contemporary brand identity to keep pace with a new generation of financial brands such as Column, Chime, and Wise.
A tired-looking brand reinvigorated itself with a complete name and branding change in 2022 when Liberty Lending became Reach. Along with the name change came a new website design and domain acquisition.
The New York-based Liberty Lending secured the ultra-premium Reach.com ahead of the rebrand.
Another financial brand that transformed itself with a name change is Freedom Financial Network, a financial management and debt solutions company that has been operating for more than 20 years. During that time, it claims to have loaned more than $7.5 billion to its customers.
In 2021, the company acquired Achieve.com and the misspelling Acheive for an undisclosed fee. The Achieve.com domain was dormant for almost a year until Freedom Financial Network announced its rebrand to Achieve, operating on Achieve.com. The new brand was featured on Nasdaq's MarketSite billboard at Times Square.
A Los Angeles-based education startup founded in 2020, describes itself as "the Netflix of high school education," offering for students to watch and interact with accredited courses that contain videos with sleek production values.
The company, originally called Emile, launched on HiEmile.com but opted for a rebrand that coincided with a mammoth $29.4 million funding round.
Emile became Subject, securing the Subject.com domain for an undisclosed fee. While first names such as Emile can make excellent brand names, the dominant Subject name for an educational platform it's hard to beat, especially when teamed with Subject.com.
Another rebrand that took place in 2022 was Snapcommerce's move to Super. Founded in 2016, Snapcommerce originally focused on providing hotel and flight deals to its platform users. The company expanded its reach to include sourcing deals for day-to-day items.
In 2022, with $101 million in funding under its belt, the company Snapcommerce rebranded to Super, securing Super.com for an undisclosed fee before announcing the rebrand.
Super's CEO, Hussein Fazal, told me that the driving force behind the rebrand "was ultimately our expansion into fintech, with the launch of SuperCash." Using Super.com, the company could secure its position as the Super brand online, while the domain offers a versatile umbrella for the company's multiple ventures.