What Domain Names Do The Unicorn Companies Use?
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).
|COUNTRY||NUMBER OF COMPANIES|
|United Arab Emirates||1|
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).
|INDUSTRY||NUMBER OF COMPANIES|
|Internet Software & Services||61|
|E-Commerce & Direct-to-Consumer||55|
|Mobile & Telecommunications||29|
|Auto & Transportation||28|
|Supply Chain, Logistics, & Delivery||26|
|Data Management & Analytics||20|
|Consumer & Retail||17|
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
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).
|COUNTRY||NUMBER of COMPANIES THAT USE EBM .COM||TOTAL NUMBER OF COMPANIES||EBM .COM USAGE PERCENTAGE|
|United Arab Emirates||1||1||100.0%|
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
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.
|EXTENSION||NUMBER OF DOMAIN NAMES||PERCENTAGE|
Length of Unicorns’ Domain Names
85% of the unicorn companies’ domain names are between 5 and 9 characters.
90% of the most visited unicorn websites’ domain names are less than 10 characters.
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:
|liquid.com||$750,000||4 March 2018|
|symphony.com||$375,000||25 June 2014|
|dji.com||$300,000||30 July 2013|
|wifi.com||$225,000||18 July 2006|
|zoox.com||$70,000||8 February 2015|
|koudai.com||$50,000||17 August 2011|
|maimai.cn||$50,000||23 July 2014|
|hike.in||$32,000||25 April 2012|
|gett.com||$25,000||9 October 2013|
|segment.com||$16,000||12 December 2012|
|uptake.com||$10,000||11 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
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
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 YEAR||NUMBER OF DOMAIN NAMES|
Domain Registrars Preferred by Unicorns
There are 75 different domain registrars preferred by the 473 unicorn companies. GoDaddy is the top one with 126 companies.
|REGISTRAR||NUMBER OF DOMAIN NAMES|
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.
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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