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Why Envelopes.com acquired two more category-defining domain names

Company’s experience with Envelopes.com convinced it of the power of category-defining .com domain names.

BIGNAME Commerce hopes to parlay its success with Envelopes.com to two other big domain names.
Yesterday I wrote about how BIGNAME Commerce, the parent company of Envelopes.com, purchased Folders.com and Bags.com. I caught up with BigName Commerce CEO Seth Newman this morning to learn more about the company and its latest acquisitions.

Envelopes.com is a 46-year-old family owned business that was previously known as Action Envelope. In 1999, the company passed on the opportunity to by Envelopes.com for just $10,000.

Newman obviously came to regret that decision. After eight years of negotiation, he finally acquired the domain name for $400,000 in 2009 and rebranded the business.

As his latest acquisitions show, Newman strongly believes in the power of generic, category-defining domain names. But he points out that not all category-defining domain names are ideal.

“I am a tremendous believer in [category-defining domains] and I think that for a non-branded product, it is the best thing to have,” Newman said.

The non-branded part is key, he explained.

“If you ask someone what their favorite brand of envelopes is, or folders, they don’t really have one,” Newman said. “Whereas, if I sold jeans online I wouldn’t want to be Jeans.com because people search for jeans by brand.”

Newman believes that good domain names help with search results. At the same time, there are some downsides.

“In the day and age we live in where we do business on a number of marketplaces, we really can’t use [the Envelopes.com] brand,” Newman said. “We needed to create a subbrand called LuxPaper, which we use in these channels.”

Marketplaces like Amazon and Staples do not allow sellers to use domain names in their seller names, so Envelopes.com is not permitted. (Other types of companies with .com in their name have encountered this issue on sites like Yelp.)

The company’s success with the Envelopes.com domain helped Newman make the Bags.com and Folders.com acquisitions. They are an expansion of the company’s customizable business products lines.

A domain broker Newman previously worked with recently approached him about Bags.com, and Envelopes.com moved quickly to acquire it. The company also sees a lot of upside in Folders.com, an operating business that will undergo a refresh.

As the company expands beyond envelopes and stationery, it created an umbrella brand over its business with 95 employees called BIGNAME Commerce.

The name choice is no accident.

“The name BIGNAME is about operating big generic category-killer domain names,” said Newman. “We want to be a big name in the businesses we run and these names allow us to do that.”

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  1. Joseph Peterson says

    The point about Amazon and other market places not allowing dots in seller brand names – that’s something we don’t often hear brought up.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      I ran into this issue when listing a company on Yelp a couple years ago. The company name was a one word .com. They wouldn’t let us list it as name.com, only name. So it was just a word that described the product. It didn’t make any sense but they wouldn’t let us change it, even though we were a paying advertiser.

  2. ss says

    facebook also blocks page usernames/urls from ending in .com, but all other extensions are allowed. corporate giants like facebook, amazon, yelp, etc are trying to protect their dominance by downplaying .com. just another reason these corporations need to be defeated by the rising independent internet. generic .com’s have the power to take traffic from these monopolistic companies.

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