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Fortune: Human Names Becoming Trendy for Startups


According to an article written by Erin Griffith and published in Fortune, “[t]he latest trend in startup names is regular old human names.” The “human” brand names are becoming popular because they supposedly help to  “humanize the software they’re selling.” The author also discussed other startup branding and domain name trends that have occurred, including the trend to use a .LY or .SY domain name.

Most interestingly, the five startups that were cited in the article (Oscar, Alfred, Benny, Lulu, and Clara) don’t use exact match domain names for their websites. Instead, they use domain names that contain their name within the url.

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see who owns the exact match .com domain name, and here’s what I found:

  • – Owned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences because of their Oscar Awards.
  • – Owned by a publishing company of the same name.
  • – Owned by someone named Ben.
  • – Owned by a company called Lulu Press.
  • – Privately registed and listed for sale in the Archeo marketplace. Domain name is currently parked.

With the exception of, it seems that all of the other exact match .com domain names are developed and not listed for sale. This likely makes it less confusing if a prospective customer directly navigated to the exact match .com domain name looking for the company with the same name. If they were confused about where to find the company’s website, they would likely visit Google and search for it that way.

Interestingly to me, the author wrote that “choosing a startup name used to be all about scoring the domain name. That has become less important with the rise of mobile, where users find apps in by searching an app store.” My opinion is that the exact match .com domain name is not nearly as important as the product or service, but owning the exact match .com domain name will help consumers find the company much more easily and eliminate an opportunity for confusion if another company owns and uses the exact match .com domain name. There is a reason why companies like start out on an alternative domain name and then buy the brand .com domain name at a later date.

As someone who buys domain names for investment purposes, it is important to know about the startup branding and domain name trends, and I don’t think I would have noticed this without reading the Fortune article. I happen to think the domain name is still an important piece of the puzzle.

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 sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.

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Comments (12)

    Karen Keighley is available exclusively with! Contact for details.

    December 23rd, 2014 at 11:21 am


    I prefer dog names . . .Rover, Spike, Zynga . pffft “human names” ? lol

    December 23rd, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Andrew Rosener

    We just sold for just shy of 6 figures

    December 23rd, 2014 at 2:04 pm


      Congrats Andrew, solidifies my belief in my investments!

      I too have achieved 6 figures and found my average to be $60k+ to other domainers and 6 figures to end users. Obviously many factors but a solid, popular/well ranked first name is a great buy.

      In reply to Andrew Rosener | December 23rd, 2014 at 2:19 pm


    I currently have both… ( a steal imo for its rank ) INCREDIBLY POPULAR NAME!

    Both for sale on ebay at the moment.

    I have been contacted many times by startups looking for names to use so I can testify that this article is true!

    December 23rd, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Dave Armon

    My Google Alert was set off by your use of “” but I’m happy that it was able to read the piece and know where domain names are going. The founders of our business spent a pretty penny on Brand as the name when they could have simply gone with Lassie.

    All the best.

    Dave Armon

    December 23rd, 2014 at 2:24 pm


    The takeaway is that they prefer .com so much that they had to resort to adding a prefix or suffix to a common name, resulting in inconsistency between their company name and the domain name.

    December 23rd, 2014 at 3:42 pm


    Just a heads up E, when you click on the link to the article it doesn’t show it anymore, need to subscribe.

    December 23rd, 2014 at 4:47 pm


    Great Article, Elliot.

    We own

    December 24th, 2014 at 12:20 am


    I agree that human name domains, especially .com’s are currently popular with startups.

    .me human name domains are ok for personal blogs/vlogs but the .com version’s seem to be ripe for startups of all kinds.

    We currently have the following human name .com’s

    and the following .me human name .me’s

    December 24th, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Paul McMenamy

    Always a great demand for first name domains, even in the .me extension. Have sold a few in the past and currently have and for sale.
    There is a real shortage of names available in many extensions and I’ve had people buy them as gifts for special friends and also to use for email addresses.

    December 28th, 2014 at 11:02 am

    D Isaac

    Human type robotic domains are also becoming popular – seems we also want cute humanoids!

    January 17th, 2015 at 9:48 am

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