According to data from Betalist, as shared by Marc Köhlbrugge 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:
📉 .com usage amongst early stage startups has declined from 78% to 56% in the last 10 years
— marckohlbrugge.eth (@marckohlbrugge) October 10, 2021
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.