It's safe to say that .com is the most used domain name extension on the Internet. From its first registration in March 1985, the .com extension has dominated the virtual landscape, becoming the de facto TLD for global business online.
By the end of 2021, Verisign reports that 160 million .com domains were registered, accounting for almost 47% of all domain names in existence.
How many of the top businesses actually operate on a .com domain? To find out, I've taken a look at data from the Fortune 1000 list of companies that charts the top 1000 American companies ranked by revenues.
I've also taken a look at private companies from Crunchbase's Unicorn Board, charting every private business with a valuation of $1 billion or more.
These two groups, totaling over 2,100 top companies in the world, will give a useful insight into how dominant the .com extension really is.
The prestigious Fortune 1000 collection lists the top 1000 businesses from the US in terms of revenue. It is an elongated version of the Fortune 500 chart, which was first published in 1955.
Of course, the Fortune 1000 list includes the likes of tech giants Apple, Meta, and Amazon, as well as established brands like Walmart, CVS, and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.
Analyzing the Fortune 1000 list for 2022 confirms .com's dominance in the business world.
Incredibly, 98.7% of Fortune 1000 companies are listed as operating on a .com domain name. The .net extension accounts 0.6% and there are a smattering of other extensions such as .org, .tv, and .technology.
There are also two companies that are listed as operating on a .xyz domain, Alphabet (ABC.xyz) and Block (Block.xyz).
Alphabet is the holding company for Google and other associated businesses. Aside from its ABC.xyz domain, Alphabet's businesses tend to operate on a .com. Google (Google.com), GV.com (GV.com), and Wing (Wing.com) are three prominent examples.
Square Inc., a financial services company co-founded by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, rebranded to Block in December 2021. In the process, the company moved to the Block.xyz domain, which is listed in the Fortune 1000 data.
Block owned companies such as Square, Tidal, and Weebly, operate predominantly on the .com extension.
To reinforce the dominance of the .com extension among the Fortune 1000 list, I've broken down the usage into various industry categories.
|Industry||.com usage (%)|
|Financial Data Services||94.1%|
|Internet Services and Retailing||96.4%|
What's noticeable immediately is the reliance that commercial banks have on the .com extension. Every single commercial bank listed in the Forbes 1000 operates on a .com domain, with many securing ultra-premium domains.
Commercial banks such as Popular (Popular.com), Fifth Third Bank (53.com), and KeyBank (Key.com) are among the banks that have secured ultra-premium names.
Trusted financial institutions, such as commercial banks and financial data services, understand the necessity of operating on a .com domain.
Blue chip companies own blue chip domains.
Business database Crunchbase launched the Unicorn Board in February 2022, providing a free list of all of the privately-owned businesses in the world that have a valuation of $1 billion or more.
Some of these businesses are only a couple years old whereas some have been established for far longer.
In June 2022, I compiled a list of 1,313 companies from the Unicorn Board and analyzed their domain names to see the type of domains that are used among the elite private businesses.
It was nice to see a couple of familiar faces on the Unicorn Board that had been featured in our On the Record interview series, discussing their ultra-premium domains. Those companies are Extend (Extend.com) and Remote (Remote.com).
Overall, I discovered that 79.4% of companies analyzed are using a .com domain. This is down significantly compared with the Fortune 1000 corporations. However, it's far higher than we'd see from a Y Combinator batch, for example, where just 54% of businesses in the S2021 alumni used a.com.
Delving deeper into the Unicorn data, I've been able to find that at least 7.6% of Unicorn companies are operating on a one-word .com domain.
That may not sound like a large number to you, but considering the scarcity of this type of domain name, I think it is a remarkable number.
It shows two things. Firstly, single-word brand names are popular thanks partly to their generic nature that allows a company room to grow their product offering or pivot to another product or service. A 2020 Crunchbase article backs this up, calling 2020 "the year of the noun".
Secondly, it shows that businesses are investing in securing their exact-match .com domains, which happen to be one-word .com's.
The one-word .com club is exclusive and can cost upwards of $1 million to join. This hints at the value that these domain names can bring to a business and why so many have been intent on acquiring them.
It's clear that the .com extension has been widely adopted by the world's most notable businesses in the public and private sectors.
Between the Fortune 1000 list and the Unicorn board, a combined 89% of top businesses are operating on a .com domain. The 2,313 companies in our two lists account for trillions of dollars worth of revenue and employ a large percentage of the world's population.