According to a news report on CNBC, a health insurance company called Oscar Health raised a $165 million round of funding from the likes of Alphabet, Founders Fund, and other firms. The company is now reportedly valued at $3.2 billion with over $725 million in total funding (per Crunchbase).
Unfortunately for Oscar, the company uses the less than ideal HiOscar.com domain name for its website. This isn’t great for a major health insurance company like this because of the potential for confusion. Yes, I think it is better than an alternative extension, but HiOscar.com could certainly be confusing to customers and prospects. Imagine being a customer and getting an email with a link to HiOscar.com. I think it could raise more red flags than the exact brand match Oscar.com domain name would raise.
So who owns the Oscar.com domain name? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences owns the domain name. The organization uses it for it’s Oscar Awards, more commonly known as the Oscars. Oscar.com forwards to the Oscars landing page, Oscar.go.com. As you can see, this is a subdomain of the ABC / Disney Go.com website. The Academy also owns the better version for its Awards, Oscars.com, which forwards to the same website. Fortunately, there likely wouldn’t be confusion for Oscar Health customers who accidentally type-in Oscar.com, but I think the exact match .com domain name appears more trustworthy.
If I were advising Oscar, I would urge them to enter a negotiation with The Academy to try to buy the Oscar.com domain name. I would leverage the fact that The Academy also owns Oscars.com so they have little to lose if they were to sell Oscar.com. I would suggest a strong offer to open the discussion. I might even suggest offering a bit of equity in the growing startup to give The Academy some upside. If Oscar succeeds and is acquired or goes public at a much higher valuation, The Academy will earn more money. I might also suggest a mechanism for The Academy to retrieve the Oscar.com domain name if the business fails or if an acquirer kills the Oscar branding.
From my vantage point, I think Oscar has much more to lose than The Academy by not owning Oscar.com. With their huge round of funding, I think they should buy the authoritative Oscar.com domain name. Of course, it is easy for me to spend someone else’s money, but I think it would be a shrewd move.