Elizabeth Cummings ⬥ 22 September
At FairWinds, we tend to talk about domain names a lot. This is no exception.
A recent TechCrunch article references a tweet in which Evan Williams, the CEO and co-founder of Twitter (not the bourbon) reveals that he paid just $7,500 for the domain name twitter.com back when the company was still nothing more than a side project. I thought that this was interesting, considering that the original project code name was “twttr”.
In my opinion, it was an incredibly smart move for Williams to buy twitter.com, even though the price must have seemed like a lot at the time. The word “twitter” is much easier for Internet users to remember than “twttr”, and much more intuitive for them to type in their browsers. It is a priceless domain name now, considering the popularity of the service.
I was curious, so I also tried typing twttr.com into my browser, to see where I would land. The domain redirects to the twitter.com site, and upon doing a quick WHOIS records search, I found that Williams has also owned twttr.com since 2007. I am not sure how much he paid for it at the time, but it seems to me like he was careful to cover his bases, and had a good understanding of which domain names would be the most useful later on.
It is this kind of forward-thinking that is so valuable when it comes to choosing brands, particularly for startups. It is better to get a head start and register the best and most valuable domain names, even if they come with a price tag, at the beginning, rather than to pay more or to try and reclaim them through enforcement later on. Others, not understanding the value of a strong domain name, might have settled for twttr.com, and declined to pay for twitter.com, thinking that it would not matter much down the road.
From my own experience at FairWinds, I see first hand on a daily basis how important it is to own the right domain names. Doing so provides valuable boosts in traffic to websites, and a better experience for Internet users.