Company Domain Names, IPOs, Simple Rules, Stupid Mistakes

Stock Charts screenshot: Rocket Internet on left; Rightside on right
Stock Charts screenshots: Rocket Internet on left; Rightside on right (source: marketwatch.com)

I don't mean to be harsh, but look at the domain names and stock symbols of two companies that started trading publicly recently, one just last week, and the stock performance of both has been, shall we say, "sub par"--(see above):

    Corporate Name                      Stock Symbol              Domain Name

1. Rightside Group, Ltd.                    NAME                     rightside.co

2. Rocket Internet AG                        RKET                   rocket-internet.com

See any problems here? And to add insult to injury, the first company above is in the domain name industry! No wonder they are "having problems" -- see here and here. The second company, Rocket Internet, is a German tech company (see video link below).

OK, for you start-ups and entrepreneurs out there, let me make this short and simple. If you want to be taken seriously by investors, venture capitalists, and/or intend to go public on a major stock exchange at some point in time, and you want to maximize your chances for success, it helps to follow a few simple rules:

1. Use consistent branding between your corporate name, stock symbol, and main domain name.
2. Never use a hyphenated domain name.
3. Always get and use the .COM domain name that matches your company name for your main website. I know Google owns (and uses for certain purposes) g.co--but they are known to the world as Google Inc. -- GOOG and GOOGL (stock symbols) -- google.com (website). That's your template--got it? For the slow learners out there, here are four more examples:

Facebook, Inc. -- FB -- facebook.com
Apple Inc. -- AAPL -- apple.com
Twitter Inc. -- TWTR -- twitter.com
Alibaba Group -- BABA -- alibaba.com and alibabagroup.com

Applying the rules to our two subject companies above, I can go to rightside.com and rocketinternet.com but I don't find either of the two companies we are talking about. In the case of Rocket Internet, if they couldn't get* the matching .COM--then they should have changed the name of the company--really! In the case of Rightside, everything is messed up--wrong domain extension, wrong symbol--it looks like they are either suffering from some kind of split personality disorder or trying really hard to fail. 

Entrepreneurs, don't make it any harder on yourselves than need be, follow the simple rules! (And note that I am not addressing in this post the basics of avoiding trademark conflicts [here's a tool for that] or other aspects of branding and nomenclature.)

*If your domain name registrar tells you the .COM name you need is "taken" or "not available" and you do not know how to use the WHOIS in order to contact the domain name owner and make an offer to purchase the .COM domain name you want or need, contact a good domain name broker to do that for you (it's well worth the fee to get a professional to handle it for you and get the right .COM domain name for your company). How much should you spend? Depends on your resources. Rough rule of thumb: up to 10% of your cash--if you have $10,000,0000 in cash (angel funding, etc.), then spend up to $1,000,000 to get that "right" .COM domain name.

Video linkWhy You Should Be Wary of Rocket Internet IPO: Kedrosky - Bloomberg.com September 26, 2014.

Rocket Falls on Debut After Biggest German IPO Since 2007 - Bloomberg"Rocket Internet AG fell 13 percent on its first day of trading in Frankfurt, failing to replicate investor enthusiasm for e-commerce stocks sparked by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd." Oct 2, 2014 

*update Dec. 30, 2016 corrected video link.

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