page title icon What Domains Are Startups Using in 2019? 711 Brands Analyzed

Mushfiq S Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 175 website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.
Doron Vermaat Doron Vermaat is the co-founder of domain name investor platform, Efty. He is a prolific domain investor who owns a porfolio of domains and also blogs about it. Prior to Efty, he served 10+ years in senior sales and business development roles. Check out Doron's LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

The buying of new domains by VC-backed startups fired up again in 2019 with 711 brands having public information about their domain buying habits. 

This data shows some shifts in comparison to the last few years and gives plenty for investors to consider moving forward with their domain investment plans.

So here’s what we will cover in this analysis:

  1. Raw data of funded startups
  2. Major insights from analysis
  3. Takeaways for domain investors

Let’s get into it!

Data of 2015 to 2021 Funded Startups

Raw Data of 2019 Funded Startups


3 Major Insights From Domains Used By VC Startups

The 2019 data set brought plenty of information to parse through, especially when comparing it to the 2016-2018 data we’ve already been analyzing for patterns, trends, and other insights that the data provides that are valuable for investors.

Some of the patterns and trends that appeared from past reports seem to be further reinforced with the data pulled from 2019. There has also been further evidence given to some trends starting to shift and one major surprise that really sticks out.

There is a lot of good data to parse from this brand analysis!

Our approach was as follows. We obtained the data of funded startups from Crunchbase and cross-correlated that to their domain names. We analyzed the raw data using Microsoft Excel and created data-driven charts to pull insights. 

Let’s dive into the three major insights from this data and what they can tell us about the state of the domain investment market. 

1. Most Common TLDs Used By Startups

No one should be surprised that the .com domain is still the preferred TLD with 449 of the 711 brands going for the .com, a full 63% of all domains bought for startups. This number is right in line with the 2016 through 2018 numbers.

Second place, for the first time in these reports, is held solo by .io which accounted for 56 of the domains or nearly 8%. This was also over double the number of .co TLD domain names that were purchased by startups in 2019. 

top 20 common tlds 4

It is interesting to note that it appears that .io was noticeably more popular than .co. In past years these two were sort of neck and neck as the alternative choice to a .com TLD and so would be combined into one “second place” category.

This seems to have shifted in 2019 with .io as the clear second-place winner. Is this a sign of .io separating itself from .co as a clear second place winner or just a one-year outlier? Definitely something worth keeping an eye on moving forward.

Also worth noting is despite the .co losing serious ground to .io, it still clearly beats out .net and .org so any old school domain investors need to note that and not let past habits blind them to what the data says is presently true.

Takeaways:

  • The .com is always the best choice when it comes to a domain name
  • .io is the second best TLD to look for, and ideal when the .com isn’t available
  • .co has fallen off, but is still the third best TLD 
  • Forgetting about .net and .org as viable TLD options isn’t a bad idea – your time is better spent finding brandable domains in .com, .io, and .co.

2. Number of Words in a Startup Domain Name

The clear preference for short and sweet domain names from previous years has continued based on the numbers in 2019. One-word domains were the clear winner with 58% (416 of 711) and 33% of the domain names being a mere two words.

number of words 1

That means a full 91% of all domains bought by startups were either one or two words. While early numbers from previous years showed this was a strong preference for short and sweet domain names, the trend has continued to move even further in that direction.

2019’s data strongly confirms that this trend towards short memorable names is not only well established but continues to grow even more entrenched in that direction. 

Takeaways:

  • Brandable one-word domains are in the highest demand
  • Good two-word domains are still good investments if they’re brandable
  • Three-word domains can be sold, but are much less popular than one and two word options
  • This is the second year in a row with no domain names of 5 or more words bought by startups

3. How Many Characters In Startup Domains?

There’s some interesting data to look at when it comes to characters. While many times this information has given general support to what the domains by number of words told us, there are some new developments here worth paying attention to.

how many characters 1

The majority of domains have 6 to 9 characters in the domain. This is the same sweet spot as last year, which is even shorter than the 6 to 10 character length that was the sweet spot in the 2016 and 2017 numbers.

Even more eye-opening about the importance of being short and memorable, 5 character domain names were in higher demand than 10 character domains for the first time in 2016-2019. 

How much further strength this adds into the “shorter is better” position is debatable, but it is a data point worth noticing.

Takeaways:

  • The shorter name trend might apply to total characters, as 6-9 is the sweet spot as opposed to 6-10
  • 5 character domain names were more popular than 10 character domains for the first time
  • Longer domain names aren’t faring nearly as well as shorter ones

Final Takeaways for Domain Investors

The 2019 data was certainly illuminating and showed some new potential trends or changes that are worth keeping an eye on. 

Will the “sweet spot” for character length of a domain name continue to shrink? Will .io keep pulling away from .co, or will .co make a comeback to share that .com alternative title?

Comparing this data to what’s come before, and to the years that will follow, allow us to get a more in-depth picture of what domain investors should be looking for to find the best available domain names to sell to future startups.

Final Takeaways:

  1. Investors should spend most of their time and focus finding brandable domains with a .com TLD to increase demand, while keeping an eye to see if .io TLDs continue to pull away from .co domain TLDs
  2. While you shouldn’t pass up on a killer 3-word domain name, the majority of domain sale profits are going to be from domain names that are one or two words long
  3. The 6-9 character range is still the sweet spot for most domains with 10-character domains appearing to lose ground to 5-character domains outside of that range



Analyzed by Mushfiq S

Mushfiq has been buying, growing, and selling website assets since 2008. His first exit was in 2010. Since then, he has done 175 website flips with multiple 6-figure exits. Learn more about Mushfiq.



Analyzed by Doron Vermaat

Doron Vermaat is the co-founder of domain name investor platform, Efty. He is a prolific domain investor who owns a porfolio of domains and also blogs about it. Prior to Efty, he served 10+ years in senior sales and business development roles. Check out Doron's LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.


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