Why I Spent $1.5 Million on Our Domain
It's a lot of money, but worth the cost.
SumoMe.com is now the former SumoMe.com. After six-plus years and 1.5 million cold hard dollars, we have finally rebranded as Sumo.com.
Yes, you read that right. It cost us $1,500,000 for that domain name. That ties Sumo.com with Russia.com for the 83rd most expensive domain purchase ever. But it's not like we just chucked a briefcase full of cash at someone to make it happen. It was way more work than that. We hired multiple private domain sleuths to help us acquire the domain (#failed); we bought SumoS.com to help make us feel better (it didn't); people sent fake emails on our behalf to see if the owners would sell (they didn't). And, I sent this email every six months for seven straight years:
Finally, after all that effort, we got the domain name we wanted.
Which is funny, because when the sale went through I thought of everything we could've bought with that money. A McLaren F1 supercar. A NetJet private membership. Five houses in Austin. You can't even sleep inside Sumo.com! But still, I knew it was the right decision. Here's why:
1. It's one word.
Mark Zuckerberg hired me to work at thefacebook.com. The name sounds weird, doesn't it? Mark thought so, too. He realized how important it was to own Facebook.com, so he went out and bought every Facebook domain available. A friend of mine (who'll go unnamed) owned Facebook.org. He ended up selling it for 3,500 shares of Facebook. Let me do the math for you. That's now worth more than $800,000. Just imagine how much they spent on the rest of the domains...
Anyone can have a two or three word name. But one word names? They carry more prestige. Just ask Madonna.
2. Those four-letter words.
Get your minds out of the gutter. Four-letter words are impressive and easy to remember. But I never believed that until a few years ago.
When worked with Aaron Patzer at mymint.com I was vehemently against him buying Mint.com. I didn't think it customers would care. "It only matters that you have a great service and product," younger Noah said.
Fortunately, Aaron was the founder and gave 3 percent of the company to acquire the domain. At the closing sale of Mint.com, that was worth $8.1 million. That's how important the domain was to Aaron. To his credit, which domain would you trust more: Mint.com, which sounds like a trusted finance company, or Wesabe.com, which sounds like an ecommerce fetish site?
The point is, at the time Wesabe was our biggest competitor. When's the last time you heard about them? Exactly. That four letter domain sounded more trustworthy than that weird competitor's name. There's just something about those four letter words.
3. Plant your flag on top of the hill.
Do you know how many companies have "Sumo" in their name? It's a lot. You wouldn't believe how many times someone has come up to me and said, "Oh, are you also like (completely unrelated to us) sumo?"
You may find yourself in the same situation where there are tons of variants of your name. Standing out just gets harder when people confuse you with other companies. That's why we went right to the source. There are many copycat Sumo names in the market but by owning Sumo.com (free marketing tools for websites), we're positioned as the original. We are the Sumo.com.
Ultimately, $1.5 million is a lot to spend on a domain. But Sumo is a brand we will have forever. I've come around on the importance of branding because it shows our customers, future employees and competition that we're serious and here to stay.
If you want even more behind the scenes, check out my podcast episode.
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