Co-Founder Discusses Domain Name & Branding

Matt is an Austin based tech startup that aims to be the hub of data sharing and collaboration to solve problems that come with the abundance of data available to scientists, engineers, medical professions, and other data users. You can read more about the company in this Fast Company article.

A week ago, I  wrote about the company’s $14 million round of funding from a large group of venture companies and individual investors.  As far as I know, this is one of the largest funding rounds for a company using a new gTLD domain name.

After learning about the company,  I reached out to COO and Co-Founder Matt Laessig to ask about the company’s  branding and usage of a new domain name extension. With my  my .com-centric background, I had several questions about  choosing a new gTLD extension and using a domain name with a new extension. Matt was kind enough to share details about  how the company decided on, and he discussed other aspects of using a .world domain name. Before moving forward with, how much knowledge did you have about the new gTLD domain names?

Matt Laessig: I had some passing knowledge about the new gTLD domain names before starting to work on the concept a year ago, but I did have a pretty strong foundation in domain investing, branding, and SEO for many years before that from being an Internet entrepreneur and executive. Was always your first choice for a domain name? Did you try to acquire or a similar .com?

Matt Laessig: Believe it or not, but was actually always my first choice for the brand and domain of this business.   For me it captures the mission and pioneering nature of an entirely new platform that dramatically improves search, discovery, and collaboration around data.   There is a massive tidal wave of data being generated in the world, and a real movement to make more of it open for transparency and societal benefit, but it is currently locked away in different data silos and formats, and is very hard to discover, understand, and collaborate around.   Our platform aims to change that, and make a new world for data.! What factors did you consider before choosing for your brand?

Matt Laessig: Although from a branding perspective I loved, there were some real considerations before choosing it as our brand and domain.

First, we had to ensure that there wouldn’t be any penalties from an SEO or email marketing deliverability perspective due to having a new gTLD.   From public statements we have heard from the all-mighty Google, they will be supporting the new gTLDs and will treat all the TLDs equally.   This has been untested and unproven in practice so far, but Google has some vested interest in this being true (e.g., Alphabet being, and most of relevant players in the tech landscape will ultimately follow Google’s lead.

Second, we worried about the lack of awareness by the general population of the existence of .world as a domain extension and whether that would create a lot of lost traffic or brand friction.   We are definitely swimming against the tide here due to lack of brand awareness of the .world domain extension, there is no doubt about that, but feel that over time the awareness will increase, and perhaps we’ll be a reason why folks develop that awareness.   Overall we felt the strengths of the brand outweighed the poor (but hopefully increasing) general awareness of the .world domain extension.

Third, we worried that having a .world TLD might scare away potential investors due to the newness of it, and a history of many businesses going with a non .com domain early and then having to make a painful costly switch later once they gained momentum.   But we haven’t found that to be the case, and overall people felt that having a strong brand like ‘’ was better than a crappy .com domain that nobody would understand or remember! What has the feedback about the branding and domain name been like? Has there been any confusion?  

Matt Laessig: So far the feedback has been very positive overall.   We definitely get some confusion with folks not putting the ‘dot’ in, and for sure there is some unquantifiable traffic loss going to, but overall the confusion has been less than we had feared.   It is definitely still there, but we have seen great overall brand recall and intrigue with the brand.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the 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. It’s nice to read some of the pros and cons they considered with a new gTLD. It’s also interesting to see that they seem to be pushing forward with some signs of success using the .world gtld. Seeing that investors play a pivotal roll in their business, it’s impressive that their investors feel more confident about investing in a .world than a .com.

    I would be interested to see some of their findings after testing the seo/sem aspects for a few months.

  2. Hands down was the first choice, either they couldn’t afford it, or didn’t want to spend the money, after the fact you will say anything.

  3. Slightly confused that an enterprise type of product, founded by a self-stated SEO, domaining and branding savvy individual would be so concerned with SEO and Google penalties. Everyone knows that those would be minor issues if they would get their content and publicity volumes even to a minimum hum–who excatly is he competing for in the “Data World” search space? Sounds a little weak.

    His dismissal of the bleed to the .com should be a red flag but it doesn’t seem to bother him much(but he had SEO concerns…hmm)

    I get that the new gtld is a cool new opportunity to stand out from the crowd and has good potential but to claim it as his first choice seems a rather lightweight pitch. My guess is there isn’t a lot of there there. Hope the .world tld is resting their hopes on this future brand destine for the trash heap.

  4. Maybe I was a little harsh. I just read a little more on the company and it looks to be more social-based that business-facing (business uses of course). A “facebook of data sets” that already has raised $14MM in some funding-WOW. You know how researchers and sponsoring orgs love to share their data sets-especially unscrubbed. Sky is the limit. Good Luck!

    • Thanks Chip, I appreciate you diving in and giving us a fair analysis. We have a ton of work ahead of us, no doubt, but people are very hungry to collaborate around data and help each other with some of the tedious initial work there is any time you discover a new dataset (often without documentation) so they can advance to the more interesting analytical work more quickly.

      Please come to and sign up to get access to our preview release!

      – Matt

    • Chip, if you want to send a note to and reference our chat, I can send you a direct invite and you can skip the wait line which is fairly deep at the moment.

      – Matt

  5. IMO The market is going back to brandable names in .com and pricing is becoming stable. Branding is everything and if you truly want to grow the value of your name or brand, then you need to buyit, buildit, loveit and then sellit.


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