.com Usage Amongst Early Stage Startups Has Declined

According to data from Betalist, as shared by on Twitter, .com usage amongst early stage startups has been on the decline. The data that was shared shows .com usage was 78% ten years ago and it has declined to 56% most recently:

In subsequent tweets in the thread above, Marc shared some other interesting domain name related data from Betalist that you can have a look at as well.

I am not 100% sure where the data is derived from or what startups the data looks at, but I completely agree. Every time I read about a startup mentioned on TechCrunch or Techmeme and it has a generic/descriptive brand name, I try to guess what domain name the company uses. It’s simply not affordable for a company that received $1.5 million in seed funding to use the brand match .com domain name that would likely cost a big chunk of the capital raised.

Observationally, many early stage startups are looking at extensions like .XYZ, .CO, .IO, and .AI, among many others. Startups also use .com domain names but append words like Get, With, See, HQ…etc to the beginning or end of their brand name in their domain name. These domain names tend to be more affordable, and they are not looked upon poorly at that early stage. In fact, a company that spent big on a brand match .com domain name may be looked at in a bad light if the company overspent on the domain name but did not have enough runway at the earliest stages.

In my opinion, it is easier for consumers and partners to recall a brand match .com domain names. This is also the case for emailing. In addition, I think there is a trust factor with .com – or perhaps you could say an inherent distrust with some new extensions.

I would be most interested to look at the domain name extension data for late stage startups that are succeeding. It would be interesting to contrast the domain name extension choices later on, once they’ve gained some level of traction. Similarly, it would be interesting to get an idea of how many companies rebranded to a name that had its .com available for purchase vs. how many spent a significant amount of money on an upgraded domain name.

Of course, with my investment portfolio containing 99% .com domain names, I have some bias in my observations. This would make data from Betalist even more interesting to me.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Garbage and nonsense reporting— it drops because they can’t get the dot com domain!!

    Eventually, they will go to the dot com domains.

    Go see the reports on how many companies switching to the dot com from their dot garbage they were using.

    Dot whatever has not branding reputation–spam spam spam.

    • .com is becoming legacy; it is a ‘classic’, not a modern tld and therefore not the face of innovation. Also new gTLD’s (that are descriptive) like .online, .app and .shop will gain popularity. A new era is approaching; the semantic and decentralized web 3.0 (IoV: Internet of Value).

  2. Nice post Elliot.

    “It’s simply not affordable for a company that received $1.5 million in seed funding to use the brand match .com domain name that would likely cost a big chunk of the capital raised.”

    Very True all the way around.
    The key for the generic DOT COM owner is to make better use the domain MORE than wasting that traffic on PPC for a lousy $25 a month. Point being is if they don’t want or cannot afford the DOT COM you still have all the human (organic) visits – i.e. Billboards on the freeway. That is your constant. And they still want that DOT COM domain a WHOLE Lot even though they hide behind NON DOT COMs – most accurately mentioned in the post

  3. There’s a giant disconnect between the mindset of domainers and tech founders. Domainers seem to think that every domain that isn’t a .com is garbage. Founders would like the .com, but if not available or too expensive, they’ll choose a .co, .io, .ai, .us, or .so. They, the founders, will often still see success as long as their product/service gains traction. Think Notion.so, Zoom.us, and MasterWorks.io. Yes, Notion and Zoom eventually acquired the .com, but redirect back to their original domain. Marc’s data was most likely taken directly from BetaList submissions which are inevitably going to be heavy on tech industry focused startups. The masses have, and increasingly so, become more accustomed to differing domains. .com is still the desired tld, but if the name is needed and available under a different extension, it still works. They can then go on to trademark the name and might not even care about the .com as time goes along.

    • Yep. There’s a growing number of.Io tech companies advertising on public transport. Even a .credit company. .com isn’t the be all.

  4. Most startups want short names close to the brand, they are getting pushed out of the market. Sometimes they just go with a temp domain and will fix it later if they find success.

    Even getKeyword.com might be a 10k purchase.

  5. It’s no surprise that .com domain names and direct navigation has declined in 10 or even 20 years for that matter. Google has dominated and manipulated the search/traffic market. That does not take away the fact that companies still want to own their website and control over their brand. They must still use other platforms to reach audiences that are holed up there.

    It’s these platform revenue streams that are made up of millions of people data. It won’t change until individuals move into their own virtual spaces. That may end up coming about by technological advances, government involvement, social changes or divisions like forced censorship and segregation that force people to look for other options. Domain names and the internet are going to become more important in our futures.

    Gaming is a good example. While gamers immerse themselves in virtual worlds that enhance their lives as entertainment, they still want to control their online persona which many will pay for. Cookie cutter solutions only work for so long.

  6. Some startups may begin with a non com domain, but they will usually end up buying a .Com domain name eventually if the company succeeds and wants to play with the big boy companies who own a .Com domain name.

  7. It doesn’t matter, because regardless of what these start-ups think, the chances are that they are losing traffic to the .com variant of their name.

    I subscribe to a software service that uses a .io extension – every time I use it, I automatically type in the .com and get sent to a for sale page!


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