In April 2020, I interviewed Woody Levin, co-founder and CEO of Extend, a product protection company that launched in 2019, looking to shake up the extended warranty market.
The interview, which you can read on the MediaOptions blog, took place months after Extend acquired its exact-match domain, Extend.com
In this edition of On the Record Extra, I will look back at my interview with Levin and how the early acquisition of Extend.com helped company growth.
Extend started life on HelloExtend.com, a domain it acquired for $9. Naturally, Levin and his co-founders checked out Extend.com, but it was unobtainable. At the time, Extend.com was in the hands of Cisco Systems.
Regardless, Levin knew the power that Extend.com could lend to his brand. In my original interview with him, Levin said,
"As the business grew, it became more and more apparent to us how important our brand was going to be, so I'd constantly check Extend.com to see what was going on"
One Saturday night, a visit to the Extend.com domain showed that it was now listed for sale. The domain had been acquired by a domain investor that managed to prise the domain from Cisco Systems' hands. Levin got in touch with the new owner directly to negotiate a deal.
Extend had only raised one seed funding round at this stage, but Levin ultimately spent double his original budget and closed a deal to acquire Extend.com within 48 hours of contacting the owner.
Why was there such a drive and determination to acquire Extend.com?
"There is only one Extend.com. That's our name, and the domain is so perfect for us, so it was very difficult to think of a reason not to do the deal," Levin explained during our interview.
The domain name added a level of trust to Extend's consumer-facing business, and ultimately Extend.com is the domain name that customers expect the company to own. Levin explains,
"If we're not on Extend.com, it will materially, negatively affect a customer's perception of the business and their experience, and we can't have that."
After acquiring Extend.com, Extend transitioned its website and associated infrastructure from HelloExtend.com to its new domain name.
The task of transitioning domains was perhaps easier to accomplish early on than it would have been now as Extend developed and built its API and customer platform around the Extend.com domain.
For a young company reliant on its website to offer the right first impression to customers and merchants, securing Extend.com initially helped project security and longevity, which are vital for a company handling extended warranties and financial information.
Since I interviewed Levin, Extend has gone from strength to strength. The company followed its early $4 million seed funding round with a $16.4 million Series A funding round disclosed in November 2019.
Almost a year later, Extend raised a further $40 million in Series B funding with a plan to grow its workforce from 90 to 200 employees.
By May 2021, Extend had joined the illustrious unicorn club, a group of privately-operated companies with a valuation of $1 billion or more.
Extend achieved its $1.6 billion valuation after raising $260 million in Series C funding. The valuation was fueled by phenomenal growth.
According to TechCrunch, Extend's first full year of trading saw the company sell 300,000 protection plans. In 2021, Extend was on track to surpass 3 million protection plans, achieving a tenfold increase within a year.
Extend has also grown its workforce, with over 400 employees now part of Extend, looking after warranty products for leading brands such as Peloton, JBL, and iRobot.
The success of Extend is down to its innovative product offering, scaled quickly with the expertise of its experienced leadership team, but at the heart of Extend is the crucial domain, Extend.com.
Extend.com serves as a first interaction point for the Extend brand for both merchants and customers.
Beyond its simple exterior, Extend.com houses both customer and merchant dashboards provided to anyone using Extend's services.
As a consumer-facing digital-only brand offering long-term insurance products, presenting the right impression is vital.
Extend.com is the foundation of Extend's meteoric rise from startup to unicorn.