For a new company, a good domain name is like an office on Madison Ave. (or the similar San Francisco equivalent!) and if you’re starting your company now or soon, you basically have four choices:
- Find a domain that nobody has registered, buy it, brand it, rock it out.
This is what we did for Business Logs. Basically when we were thinking about the name of our new company a few years ago, we put together a list of 25 open URLs (made from a concatenation of normal English words) that were available, and then out of those we chose businesslogs.com as the URL and company name. We started with little money, so purchasing a high quality domain was out of reach — we had to build a high quality site/brand from scratch without a really rememberable name. Companies that fall under this category include Campaign Monitor, CrazyEgg, Blinklist, Bloglines, Tailrank, and many others.
- Number + word = crazy delicious!
Not many people are doing this anymore because it’s slightly played out, but there are a ton of XXword.com domain names available if you’re still interested. You’ve got 411metro, 60 Spots, 43places, 37signals, 23hq, 9rules, and a partridge in a pear tree!
- Buy a “web 2.0” name, brand it, tell people how to spell it.
The problem with the zany domain names that people are purchasing nowadays is that when you tell somebody — either in person or over the phone — what your domain name is, you’ll probably have to spell it after you do so because the word is not a normal word or there are multiple periods in the domain. Companies that fall under this category include Ma.gnolia, Del.icio.us (after some dough influx they jumped into the next category), Flickr, Edgeio, Reddit, Chuquet, Megite, Simpy, and many others.
- Take angel or VC money, drop some major cash on a prime domain name, brand it.
One-word domain names, using words that everybody can say and spell, are basically all gone. If you want your company to have that nice office on Madison Ave., you’re going to have to pay through the nose, and most likely that won’t come until after you’ve taken some funding. Ning was originally called 24hourlaundry, Flock used to be Round Two, Facebook paid mid-six figures to switch to “facebook.com” from their old “thefacebook.com”, my friend Tony Conrad’s company ponied up dough for Sphere, and then Del.icio.us stumbled upon the sans-period version of their domain after they got cash as well.
I personally like the two-word contractions, just because they’re easy to say, people can spell them (unless you pick fake words), and a two-word company gives you one extra word for branding purposes. Of course my view is probably a bit slanted because business.com and logs.com wouldn’t sell 😉