A Premium Domain is an Asset Companies Can Cash in at Any Time
On the MediaOptions blog and through the DomainSherpa network, the benefits of operating on a premium domain name have been constantly extolled.
Along with industry experts, end-users have shared their stories of building a business on a premium domain, such as Scan.com‘s Charlie Bullock, who came onto Off The Market Forever in October 2022 to share his company’s story.
One often overlooked bonus of owning and operating a business on a premium domain name is that the domain can retain its value. Sometimes, its value increases, too.
In 2022, there have been four notable examples of companies that have built on premium .com domains but ultimately sold their valuable asset.
A local delivery service, appropriately named Fetch, built a business around the Fetch.com domain name. The on-demand service, founded in 2018, raised $5.1 million across four funding rounds, including a $2.7 million venture round in 2020.
Whois history suggests that the company secured Fetch.com in 2019 after Fetch launched using the longer Fetch.delivery domain.
By August 2022, though, Fetch had struck a deal to sell its prized asset, Fetch.com. In a newsletter, Fetch announced that it was rebranding to Fetch Delivery, operating on FetchDelivery.com. According to the newsletter, the decision was made as it “more accurately describes our services and helps avoid confusion with other businesses that have fetch as part of their name.”
The real reason, revealed days later, was down to the domain changing hands. Fetch Rewards, a mobile shopping platform that had raised $581.8 million in disclosed funding, secured Fetch.com as an upgrade from FetchRewards.com.
While details of the deal haven’t been disclosed, it’s likely that delivery company Fetch receive an offer for Fetch.com that was motivating enough to make an effort to rebrand slightly.
For the delivery service, which operates in a small area of the Southwest USA, a sale of Fetch.com likely represented a large portion of the company’s income, something that was too enticing to turn down.
Fetch, the delivery service, had the best of both worlds by building its brand around Fetch.com and selling the domain when it suited the company.
In 2018, Super.com sold for $1.2 million at the domain investor-centric marketplace NameJet. The sale, which remains the largest closed on the platform, attracted some media attention after the domain was developed into a gaming platform by entrepreneur Oleg Sambikin.
The platform was complemented by a $50 million investment fund for game development. Super.com operated until mid-August 2022 when Super.com abruptly became SuperGG.com.
Similarly to Fetch, Super.com attributed its rebrand to its desire to refine its name to serve a specific industry. In this case, it was the gaming industry. A press release reasoned, “our mission is to help our partners create not just good games, but nothing short of Super Good Games. As such, we are now SuperGG.com.”
As with Fetch.com, the true reason for the switch became clear when a new brand moved to Super.com.
SnapCommerce, a mobile shopping brand that finds better prices on a wide range of products for its customers, raised more than $100 million in revenue before opting to rebrand. The company, which began life as SnapTravel before transitioning to SnapCommerce, officially became Super in October 2019.
Naturally, Super relaunched its brand on Super.com providing the perfect combination of a generic domain name and a brand name that provides freedom to pivot and change direction. In that respect, SnapCommerce seems quite limiting.
In fact, just as SnapCommerce switched to Super, the company announced a new Fintech venture called SuperCash, described as a debt protecting cashback card.
The expansion into Fintech is what drove Super’s rebrand. The company’s CEO, Hussein Fazal, told me, “The driving force was ultimately our expansion into Fintech, with the launch of SuperCash. SnapTravel is a powerhouse travel brand, but we needed to bring all of our products under one umbrella and choose a name that could scale with each and every expansion now and to come.”
What happens when another company is operating on your preferred, exact-match .com domain? Some brands will try to differentiate themselves entirely by using a prefix, such as GetUpside, a retail technology company that offers cash back opportunities to customers.
The company, founded in 2016, started life as GetUpside, operating on GetUpside.com. It wasn’t an ideal name for the company, but it provided a distinction from the dozens of other brands called Upside, including a travel startup that operated on Upside.com.
Upside Business Travel, Upside for short, was launched in 2016 by Priceline founder Jay Walker as a travel management service for small to medium-sized companies. It secured the Upside.com domain name close to launching, setting the brand up for success.
The company announced a $50 million funding round in early 2017 and continued growing up until the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the brand greatly.
In a LinkedIn post from August 2021, Upside CEO, Scott Walker, confirmed that the company would be shutting down as a direct result of the pandemic.
By December 2021, Whois history shows that the Upside.com domain name moved into a registrar account owned by a leading escrow company, Escrow.com, suggesting that the domain name had sold.
In April 2022, retail technology company GetUpside announced it was rebranding to Upside. In addition to the name change, a transitioned to the domain Upside.com, too. The news of the slight rebrand coincided with a $165 million Series D funding round that put the company’s valuation at $1.5 billion.
This win-win scenario allowed a failing business to divest a key, valuable asset, while GetUpside could drop the “Get” and effectively own the Upside brand online by operating on Upside.com
In 2017, The Tiki Tour Group secured the monumental Explore.com domain name and promptly developed a popular travel brand on the name. A press release at the time gave an insight into why The Tiki Tour Group chose to invest in Explore.com.
“Explore.com carries greater recognition globally, with ‘Explore’ you think adventure, journey, discovery; already you associate Explore.com with travel. To add further legitimacy to their brand, securing the .com domain was an important step to catapult their brand awareness with the international traveler. To compete against well-recognized brands such as Booking.com and AirBnB.com, this was a strategic move to build trust and recognition with travelers who are browsing for booking options online.”
Explore.com sat alongside other Tiki Tour Group properties, such as Jasons.com, as a growing destination for travelers to book and play in journeys.
By October 2022, though, The Tiki Tour Group opted to rebrand to Smartie, picking up the Smartie.com domain name shortly before the transition.
A blog post explained the reason for the switch, citing a strategy change. However, the real reason became clear when Explore.com transferred into the ownership of Static Media, a leading media brand that operates a whole host of content-centric websites.
With a total monthly audience of more than 170,000 throughout its network, Static Media will be hoping that Explore.com will add millions more monthly visitors to the network. The company has already built a travel website on Explore.com with hundreds of articles.
For The Tiki Tour Group, the company likely received a substantial payday to tempt it to part with its Explore.com domain name. The injection of capital can make a tremendous difference to this travel company that is part of an industry that was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.