Great domains inspire people.
Investor and entrepreneur Jason Calacanis has given lots of great soundbites about domain names over the year. Earlier this month, he elaborated on the power of a great domain during his This Week in Startups episode 1053.
A listener asked about trademarks and domain names. He responded:
When people see a great domain name like robinhood.com or calm.com, this inspires people because it’s hard to get those domain names. It’s hard to have the one-word domain name and it makes you look like you have a serious brand. Inside.com…and a great brand should evoke something in people.
Calm.com, Inside, these, one of them makes you feel calm because it’s calm.com and one of them means, “Hey we’re going to go into this topic.”
Inside.com/transportation. Inside.com/AI, Inside.com/SanFrancisco. You inherently know what this research is going to be about and inside.com is like a research company. So if you want to get inside of AI, just go to inside.com/AI.
So I think it’s great when you have the domain name you kind of have the trademark. So whoever owns calm.com, they basically own calm even if somebody else had it…or there’s inside the NBA and Inside Baseball …these two things existed before I owned the Inside.com trademark so I can’t use Inside the NBA, right, I think TNT would be quite upset. Or I think Inside Baseball is actually a long-running show if I’m not correct…so I can do Inside.com/baseball or Inside.com/NBA and then make it clear this is Inside’s newsletter about the NBA but I would not use the branding Inside the NBA and I would not refer to it as such because I don’t want to infringe on anybody else’s the trademark.
That shows you the power of a great domain name is that whoever gets the .com, they kind of get the best branding in the entire space. So it’s really worth trying to get that .com eventually.
You could start without it, you could start with inside .net or insidenewsletter .com, but if somebody were to create right now insideartificialintelligencethepodcast, I’m going to beat them with Inside AI when we do the Inside AI podcast. Eventually we’re just going to outrank them. So that’s one of the things that gets baked into owning the domain name.
If somebody wanted to try to create, you know, a meditation app and say BeCalmer .com, all that’s going to do is half the people who hear becalmer.com are going to Calm.com. And they’re going to assume Calm.com is it. So you start newslettersthattakeyouinsideatopic .com, all that’s going to do is drive more traffic to me. So that’s why you don’t want to create a derivative name that’s already known in the world.
Calacanis said he believes it’s OK to start with a prefix or suffix to the brand if you can get the brand in .com, e.g., Get- or Try. One of his investments is Lately, which uses the domain TryLately.com.
He noted that one of the reasons he invested in Calm.com was because of the domain name.
“It showed me he had some amazing ability to negotiate with the owner of the domain name and to get something as an asset was super important,” he said.
You can watch the episode below, which will start at this question.