The url hunt

imgres-1Figuring out what to call your company is tough.  How does that name tie into the brand you are creating.  I have been involved in these conversations and they get really into the weeds.  At one point you just have to pick a name and then create the brand around it.  I’d be curious to see how many founders loved the name that they chose.

I did not think a lot about it when I called this blog Gotham Gal.  At this point it is the name that is connected to me.  It was the brainchild of Fred.  I can not take credit.  Sometimes people say Gotham Girl which I find annoying but at least they get the Gotham right.

It is even more difficult when ever single name you come up with has been scooped up by someone else years ago. The owners are not necessarily using it but they are sitting on it.  Someone might own the name you want with a .com ending but not the .net or .io or the variety of endings out there but you do need to have ownership of all of them.

The time to buy these names is at the beginning of the company not when the company is gaining serious traction and valued high.  When founders tell me that they have contacted the owners of the url they are looking to buy I cringe.  There are experts for everything including the purchasing of urls.  They have done it so many times and know exactly how to make the buy, assess the right price and streamline the process.

So if you are starting a company or thinking of changing the name of the company, do yourself a favor and bring in an expert.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    yup agree with a lot of this.wrote this a few years ago. still rings true to my experience:Naming your company…self discovery as word play

  2. Erin

    Who are the experts? You mean lawyers?

    1. Gotham Gal

      not lawyers. there are people who do this for a living.

      1. Matt Kruza

        Not relevant for me right now (already have a domain), but for general knowledge and curiousity can you point to any either websites or even job descriptions for these experts? Pretty plugged in in the start-up world and have never really heard of experts in this space so curious if there is any knowledge you can share. Thanks!

        1. Marcus Detry

          There are many great branding agencies – most will run between $25k and $250k. I’m hesitant to post any names as I don’t want to offend those I don’t mention.

  3. Ella Dyer

    In my previous startup (technology now being integrated into another company; yeah for us!) we began with a name then asked users to give us feedback and used their top choice for the name of our application. Staying close to the customer/user is always helpful.

  4. pointsnfigures

    one of the problems with coming up with a good name for a company is the squatters. have a company and the squatter won’t part with the URL at any price-and they aren’t using it either. Paul Graham asked the question, “How many valuable companies do you know of that have a url other than .com?”

    1. awaldstein

      All names are not created equal certainly.I’ve bought a lot of URLs and each time, I have to ask whether anything is other really then what you make of it.

    2. LE

      have a company and the squatter won’t part with the URL at any price-and they aren’t using it either.Not correct. No such thing. First and foremost forget using the word squatter. Owning and selling domain names is a legitimate business (and an entire industry revolves around the business) and has been since the 90’s. The word squatter is a headline grabbing invention of the press (primarily… there are other culprits of course) which dates back to someone grabbing a well known trademark and trying to extort money out of their employer. It’s a “life isn’t fair” argument by people who don’t understand the business. Jealousy. Sorry you got to it first and claiming they are hoarding domain names. As if domain names are some public trust and the rules of business do not apply to them.Squatter? Go try and buy a domain name that Google or Apple or Oracle owns but does not use. See what happens when you try to do that. See if you can even get in touch with someone who can make a decision. See if they need or will even consider any amount of money. At least people who own domains and are in the business to sell them and will sell them, it’s only a matter of negotiation and strategy and price similar to buying and selling many other things. Are they high and ridiculous sometimes? Of course sometimes that happens.It’s standard in the business to be told “sorry not interested in selling at any price”. All that means is “tell me something that indicates you know the value of what I am selling so I don’t waste my fucking time..”More to your point about someone not willing to sell the name. How about this. Someone gets up in the morning in 2015 with their new idea (and a shoestring budget) and decides they want a particular domain name. The person who owns that particular domain name appears to either not want to sell or replies with a very high price. The potential buyer is angry and frustrated. Life isn’t fair they think!But why should they be? If the price was reasonable and the name is good, then someone else would have bought the domain name in 2013 or in 2002 or in 2005 and be operating a business. And at that point in order to get the domain you’d literally have to buy the entire business or pay an even higher price for the existing user to rebrand. This idea that a good name at a fair price would just be sitting and waiting for some person’s idea when they came along with it is as ridiculous as believing that a piece of land that is vacant should be waiting when someone decides to buy it to construct their new flower shop.

  5. Marcus Detry

    Couldn’t agree more, Joanne. It’s a science and process. Brands should generate emotions. The URL can be an extension of that brand and reinforce the descriptor.I cringe when I see businesses use names that don’t generate emotions and don’t distinguish from its competitors/market.

  6. Pranay Srinivasan

    p.s. when we were beginning to build sourceeasy, we had – We chased the URL and we were able to buy it for under $300 🙂 luckily we weren’t famous and nobody wanted that URL 🙂

  7. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Dang, I’m sorry I missed this post when it was published. A pet topic of mine :)This is why I buy domains immediately when they occur to me for any reason (and are actually available). It’s almost impossible these days to get a reasonable domain. If you think of one for some reason and find it’s available, buy it. I own a whole bunch of them – guess I’m a squatter in some respects.Don’t forget, you also need to secure the (i) Twitter handle, (ii) Facebook page, (iii) Instagram handle and possibly (iv) the Pinterest handle (and possibly others, depending upon your market).I recently started a new project and was able to just grab one of my domains I already own (and Twitter, FB, etc. handles) for it. It happened to be a good fit and saved me loads of time.

    1. Gotham Gal

      grab all the handles. good advice.

  8. Sandi Lin

    Crowdsourcing! We received hundreds of available domains for ~$100…. some better than others.

    1. Gotham Gal


  9. Nick Ambrose

    Indeed, a company I worked for many years ago did not own their .com when I started and STILL does not even though they are a billion dollar public company.The owner of their .com is a (rather small i believe) local flower store who refused to sell the domain (or more likely didn’t like the way the company tried to deal with them in the way back when).Ouch.