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What Domain Names Do The Unicorn Companies Use?
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What Domain Names Do The Unicorn Companies Use?

Unicorn Companies Startups Domain Names

We analyzed 473 unicorn companies to understand their domain name preferences. These unicorns are from 29 different countries and 16 industries. 

We looked deeply into their domain names to gain insight about what extensions are used most, how many of these unicorns own the exact match .com domain name, if any of these companies purchased its domain name after being valued over $1 billion, and more.

We found some interesting things.

You might also want to read our previous analyses:
- Domain Names of Fortune 500 Companies
- Domain Names of Crunchbase Top 1000 Companies

The Global Unicorn Club

As you know, a unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion.

We used CB Insights’s “The Global Unicorn Club” data in this analysis. There are a total of 473 companies in the list and the total cumulative valuation is $1.4 trillion.

There are 227 companies from the US and 120 companies from China. The other countries with more than 10 companies in the list are the United Kingdom (23), India (21), Germany (13), and South Korea (10).

Global Unicorn Club
COUNTRYNUMBER OF COMPANIES
United States227
China120
United Kingdom23
India21
Germany13
South Korea10
Brazil7
Israel7
France5
Indonesia5
Switzerland4
Australia3
Canada3
Singapore3
Hong Kong3
Japan3
Spain2
South Africa2
Sweden2
Netherlands1
Estonia1
United Arab Emirates1
Colombia1
Luxembourg1
Portugal1
Philippines1
Lithuania1
Malta1
Ireland1

The unicorn companies were categorized under 16 industries. Fintech and Internet Software & Services are the top industries with 61 companies. They are followed by E-commerce & Direct-to-Consumer (55), Artificial Intelligence (47), and Health (34).

INDUSTRYNUMBER OF COMPANIES
Fintech61
Internet Software & Services61
E-Commerce & Direct-to-Consumer55
Artificial intelligence47
Health34
Other32
Mobile & Telecommunications29
Auto & Transportation28
Supply Chain, Logistics, & Delivery26
Data Management & Analytics20
Hardware19
Consumer & Retail17
Edtech16
Cybersecurity14
Travel13
Education1

According to CB Insights, more than 50% of the companies joined the unicorn club in the last two years.


Exact Brand Match (EBM) .COM Domain Names

Exact Brand Match Domain Name

The first thing we look at is what percentage of the unicorns use the Exact Brand Match (EBM) .COM domain name. The answer is 82.5%

390 unicorns use brand match .com domain names (for example, Example Company uses example.com).

COUNTRYNUMBER of COMPANIES THAT USE EBM .COMTOTAL NUMBER OF COMPANIESEBM .COM USAGE PERCENTAGE
United States20022788.1%
China8912074.2%
United Kingdom192382.6%
India182185.7%
Germany101376.9%
South Korea71070.0%
Israel6785.7%
France55100.0%
Switzerland44100.0%
Indonesia4580.0%
Brazil4757.1%
Canada33100.0%
Australia2366.7%
Singapore2366.7%
Sweden22100.0%
Hong Kong2366.7%
Japan2366.7%
Netherlands11100.0%
Spain1250.0%
South Africa1250.0%
United Arab Emirates11100.0%
Colombia11100.0%
Luxembourg11100.0%
Portugal11100.0%
Philippines11100.0%
Lithuania11100.0%
Malta11100.0%
Ireland11100.0%
Estonia010.0%

Companies That Own EBM But Not Use as Official Websites

Twenty companies use other domain names as their official website and redirect the brand match .com domain names to the official site. 13 of these companies use country-code domains as their official site. 

Five companies use .com domain names other than their EBM. Two of them are worth mentioning: Invision is using invisionapp.com instead of invision.com. Keep is using gotokeep.com instead of keep.com.

Rapyd uses rapdy.net as the official website instead of rapdy.com.

Coursera uses coursera.org although the .com version is owned by them. This is mostly because of how they position themselves.

Some of the companies above purchased their EBM .com domain names later but didn’t migrate to them yet (maybe they won’t, forever).

Companies That Use EBM Domain Names Other Than .COM

Forty-one of unicorn companies use exact brand match domain names other than the .com extension (without owning the EBM .com one). The most used extensions are .IO with 8 domain names, .AI and .CN with 6 domain names.

There are 3 domain names for each .IN (India’s country-code domain extension) and COM.BR (Brazil’s country-code domain extension). Colombia’s .CO has 2 domain names.

There are one EBM domain names in the unicorn list for each of the following 13 extensions: .net, .bank, .group, .tech, .co.kr, .co.uk, .co.za, .com.cn, .eu, .id, .im, .jp, .me.

Nineteen of these billion-dollar companies use EBM domain names other than .com, but the .com versions are used by others. This is so bad for those companies.

Companies That Don’t use EBM Domain Names At All

Forty-two companies don’t use exact brand match domain names. More than 50% of these companies are from China. Almost all of these Chinese companies use .com domain names other than their brand name. Some of the domain names seem very unrelated to the brands.

There are 13 US unicorns that don’t use EBM domain names. All of these companies use domain names with prefix or suffix added to their brand names.

One of the companies in the unicorn list, LinkSure Network, is using a high-value domain name, wifi.com as its official web address.

To summarize the Exact Brand Match domain name usage of unicorn companies:

  • 42 companies (8.9%) don’t use EBM at all.
  • 41 companies (8.7%) use EBM domains with extensions other than .com.
  • 390 companies (82.5%) use Exact Brand Match .com domain names.
  • 20 EBM .COM domain names not owned by unicorn companies are listed for sale on marketplaces.

Domain Extension Preferences

Domain Extensions TLD Statistics

It’s not surprising that most of the unicorn companies use a .COM domain name. 413 out of 473 companies (87%) use .com domain names. Other generic top-level domains used by unicorns are .NET with two companies and .ORG with one company.

China’s country-code domain extension .CN is the most used second extension with 11 companies. Also, three other Chinese companies use .COM.CN.

The popular extensions of recent years .IO and .AI are popular among unicorns as well and used by eight companies each. As expected, 7 of the 8 companies that use .ai extension are Artificial Intelligence companies, and one is from the auto & transportation industry.

None of the 227 unicorn companies from the United States is using a .US domain name. 
93% of the US companies, 221 of them, use .COM
6 companies use .IO
5 companies use .AI, and 2 companies use .CO.

EXTENSIONNUMBER OF DOMAIN NAMESPERCENTAGE
com41387.3%
cn112.3%
io81.7%
ai81.7%
co.uk40.8%
com.br40.8%
com.cn30.6%
co30.6%
in30.6%
me20.4%
net20.4%
de10.2%
tech10.2%
eu10.2%
co.za10.2%
org10.2%
fr10.2%
co.kr10.2%
bank10.2%
group10.2%
id10.2%
jp10.2%
im10.2%

Length of Unicorns’ Domain Names

Domain name length

85% of the unicorn companies’ domain names are between 5 and 9 characters.

LENGTHDOMAIN COUNTPERCENTAGE
88317.5%
67215.2%
76914.6%
95812.3%
55611.8%
4347.2%
10285.9%
11245.1%
OTHER4910.4%

90% of the most visited unicorn websites’ domain names are less than 10 characters.

Domain Purchases of Unicorn Companies

Domain Purchases of Unicorn Companies

Some of the unicorn companies purchased the domains they currently use from other people or companies. According to public records published by NameBio, the highest priced purchases are:

DOMAIN NAMEPRICEDATE
liquid.com$750,0004 March 2018
symphony.com$375,00025 June 2014
dji.com$300,00030 July 2013
wifi.com$225,00018 July 2006
zoox.com$70,0008 February 2015
koudai.com$50,00017 August 2011
maimai.cn$50,00023 July 2014
hike.in$32,00025 April 2012
gett.com$25,0009 October 2013
segment.com$16,00012 December 2012
uptake.com$10,00011 March 2011

There are also more than 20 domain purchases under $10,000.

Please note that all of these purchases might not be made by the unicorn companies. Some of the purchases in the above list might be made before. Also, it’s known that most of the high-priced domain purchases are not publicly disclosed.

Domain Dispute Cases Filed by Unicorns

Domain name disputes (UDRP) at WIPO

According to our sister website DNDisputes, some of the unicorns filed domain dispute cases to get domain names they claim that violate their brand rights. There are at least 60 cases filed for more than 150 domain names.

One of the remarkable cases is the NuBank.com case. Nu Pagamentos S.A. filed a dispute case at WIPO in December 2019. The Panel denied the complaint and found that the complaint was brought in bad faith and constituted an abuse of the administrative proceeding (Reverse Domain Name Hijacking / RDNH). NuBank is using nubank.com.br as its official web address. 

Hike Private Limited filed a dispute case for Hike.com in 2017. The Panel denied the complaint. This domain name is being sold by a domain brokerage company, Guta. Another case filed by Hike Private Limited was for hike.app and the Panel decided to be transferred of the disputed domain name to the Complainant. Hike is using hike.in as its official website.

There are many other dispute cases filed by these unicorns and most of them are against country-code extension versions of the original domain names. A few of the cases were filed for the new generic top-level domains. More than 90% of all the domain dispute cases resulted with a transfer decision.

Registration Dates of Domains Used by Unicorns

Domain registration dates of unicorn companies

The oldest registered domain name of the unicorns is grail.com. It was registered in 1991. There seems not a meaningful pattern related to domain registration dates.

REGISTRATION YEARNUMBER OF DOMAIN NAMES
19911
19921
19932
19943
199519
199612
199716
199816
199921
200020
200113
200228
200315
200429
200514
200621
200714
200811
200920
201025
201132
201224
201332
201424
201531
20162
201718
20182
20193

Domain Registrars Preferred by Unicorns

Domain name registrars

There are 75 different domain registrars preferred by the 473 unicorn companies. GoDaddy is the top one with 126 companies.

REGISTRARNUMBER OF DOMAIN NAMES
GoDaddy126
Alibaba69
Amazon31
Mark Monitor23
Network Solutions18
Gandi18
Xinnet17
eName14
Namecheap12
CSC11
OTHERS134

Other Interesting Things About Unicorn’s Domain Names

  • One unicorn is using a domain name with only numbers: 100.me (Dingdong Maicai).
  • Seventeen unicorns are using domain names with numbers.
  • Ten unicorns are using domain names with hyphens. These companies do not own the non-hyphen versions.
  • None of the unicorns is using an Internationalized Domain Name (IDN).
  • Most unicorns don’t seem to know the importance of having similar/lookalike/typo domain names.
Unicorn companies uses what type of domain names

Conclusion

There are 473 unicorn companies from 29 different countries and 16 industries according to CB Insights’s “The Global Unicorn Club”  research. 

390 of these companies (82.5%) use Exact Brand Match (EBM) .COM domain names.

87.3% of the unicorn companies use a .COM domain name. CN, .IO and .AI are the other popular domain extensions used by unicorns.

More than 30 unicorn companies purchased the domain names they use as their official websites. Liquid.com ($750,000), Symphony.com ($375,000), and DJI.com ($300,000) are examples of these purchases. 

There are more than 60 dispute cases filed by unicorn companies for more than 150 domain names. Although most of the cases resulted with domain transfer decisions, some complaints were denied.

What do you think about domain names of unicorns?
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