Startup harnesses the value of a high quality domain name.
I first met RenÃ© Lacerte at the DEMOfall conference last September. He was officially launching his new company, CashView. The company streamlines the process of accounts payable.
“CashView” is a good, descriptive domain name for what the company does. But Lacerte decided he could do better, and recently acquired the domain Bill.com.
But the story of how Lacerte got his hands on this premium domain name isn’t how you might expect. He didn’t wake up one morning, decide he wanted the domain, and contact the owner. Instead, the owner came to him. “The person who owned Bill.com saw what we were doing because of the DEMO PR and approached us saying ‘your product is exactly what I would have done with [the domain]’,” said Lacerte.
Lacerte declined to disclose who sold the domain name to him.
A search of historical whois records on Domain Tools reveals that the domain was apparently owned by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff during much of this decade. The July 2002 whois record shows the owner as Marc Benioff with nameservers of salesforce.com. The whois record changed in 2003 and archive.org showed a “for sale” page. In January 2004 the domain again shows ownership by Benioff and the Salesforce.com nameservers. 2006-2007 records show a private registration that include Benioff’s name and archive.org shows that the domain is forwarded to Salesforce.com. In November 2007 the domain’s whois record temporarily switched to a different address before being bought by CashView.
CashView paid a combination of stock and cash for the domain, and the total purchase price was “nothing like the $500,000 or $1,000,000” that many four letter domains sell for, according to Lacerte.
The benefits of a good domain are already paying dividends for the company. “We’ve seen a lift in our e-marketing and buzz from PR” after buying the domain, Lacerte said.
LaCerte understands the power of good names. He said he decided to pull the trigger on the domain after coming up with a tagline to go with Bill.com: Send. Receive. Pay. “A name is only a name, but when you can tie it into what you do it makes sense,” said Lacerte.
He explained that it’s now easier to explain to people at a party what he does. Before the name change he would say he was CEO of CashView and then he had to say a few sentences to explain it. Now he just says it’s Bill.com, and it help companies send, receive, and pay bills online.
People get that. And Lacerte gets it, too.