Vanity Fair published an interesting article about Uber and Travis Kalanick, the company’s CEO and founder. If you enjoy reading about startups, you are going to enjoy Kara Swisher’s article, especially if you have used Uber before. The company was first called UberCab, and it later became known as Uber.
As someone who is active in the domain space, one of the most interesting tidbits from the article was regarding the deal the company made to buy the Uber.com domain name, as well as how much it actually cost the company. The acquisition came shortly after the company received a C&D order from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the California Public Utilities Commission, which cited the company’s usage of the term “cab” in its name, among other issues.
Here is the deal the company made to acquire the Uber.com domain name, as written by Swisher:
“Instead, the start-up ignored most of the order and simply changed UberCab to Uber, buying the Uber.com domain name from Universal Music Group for what was then 2 percent of the company. (Later, Uber bought back the shares, which would now be worth hundreds of millions, for $1 million.)”
As someone who evaluates domain names for branding potential (among other things), the “uber” brandability is very strong because it has a meaning and resonance. This indicates that the Uber.com domain name would have significant value without consideration of the brand it has become.
As it turned out, selling Uber.com for a 2% stake in the startup was a shrewd business decision. Selling those shares for $1 million might not seem great in hindsight considering the value of the company, but the article doesn’t state when the buyback occurred nor do we know contractual specifics. If we look at it objectively, netting $1 million for the Uber.com domain name was a very good price.
You should take some time to read the entire article when you have an opportunity. Uber continues to grow in popularity, and I think you’ll enjoy the article.
Thanks to George Kirikos for sharing this via Twitter today.