Most popular domain extensions for startups in Q1 2016

After analyzing 3101 newly funded start-ups that raised a combined 11.2+ billion dollars in funding during 2015, I’m back with a Q1 report for the new year which is based on 1085 newly funded startups who raised a whopping 5.1 billion dollars in funding during the first 3 months of 2016. This is once again more data than we had in previous quarters and we can all agree that data beats opinions.

Exactly one year ago the data showed that .Com was the absolute king with a market share of 75% followed by the ccTLD with 8% and .Co and .Io claiming a combined 11% of the pie.  So what (if anything) has changed during the last 12 months? Let’s find out!

most popular domain extensions Q1 2016

.Com remains the absolute top choice for funded startups by miles. Their slice of the pie is a tiny bit smaller compared to a year ago however which is caused by the increasing popularity of the ccTLD. The country code domain names have seen a steady rise in adoption, being pushed especially by the high number of Indian startups that raised funds over the last year and often use a .In domain. The ccTLD now claims a impressive 14% of the chart. The second most popular alternative to a .com is .Co closely followed by that other techie extension: .Io. The combined market share of these two guys was just under 7% this quarter.

With more than 350 new available domain name extensions for startups to choose from the new gTLDs keep performing poorly. Only 14 startups (or 1.3%) fell for the “not-Com” marketing and launched with one of the many new extensions that were supposed to change the domain name landscape forever.

Doron Vermaat

Doron has over a decade of professional experience in marketing and business development for technology startups in both Europe and Asia. He is the product guy behind domain name management software, Efty and the founder of High West a specialized recruiter for tech and digital talent. In his spare time, he moonlights as a domain name investor. He lives in bustling Hong Kong with his wife Fay, daughter Isla and their rescue dog Pepper.

9 thoughts on “Most popular domain extensions for startups in Q1 2016

  1. when the guru that basically everyone respects in the startup space publishes this, it moves markets. Why, because its true, honest and related back to really one thing, TIME. You cant get back time and when your spending so much time building a business, why mess around and be so cheap when purchasing your url platform that will be managing your business. Watch out for another leading guru account something else similar soon. You can build a great business on any TLD, but most of these young people dont understand how end users value TRUST, History, Globalization and other factors that make a great company, great.

  2. “Only 14 startups (or 1.3%) fell for the ‘not-Com’ marketing …”

    It would be fairer to say only a few startups chose an nTLD.

    Yes, I know what you mean. The hyperbole about how nTLDs “were supposed to change the domain name landscape forever” was ludicrous; and, if people believed that, then they certainly “fell for” some far-fetched propaganda.

    That said, the 14 startups using nTLDs didn’t necessarily “fall for” anything. Launching a brand on an nTLD isn’t ludicrous. It’s just quite rare still.

    Adoption has proved slower than many expected. But there is bound to be a lag of a few years. Entrepreneurs aren’t as original as they’d like to believe. Mainly they imitate what others do. Years back, building a site on .IO was a weird, outside-the-box idea. By now, .IO is something tech startups see around them. So they imitate. They follow the leader.

    Significantly, it took a number of years for the .IO fad to find its legs. You can actually measure that distance with calipers – from the earliest visible .IO tech brands in year ???? to the recent past, in which multiple .IO brands get funded each year.

    And it will probably take that long for a few nTLDs to became fashionable among tech startups. Those “creative thinkers” will wait until they see somebody else do it. And with .IO prices sometimes prohibitively high, the hacker mentality WILL figure out that there are hundreds of other options. At least 1 entrepreneur will deviate from the herd of wannabes, and he’ll get funding. Then the wannabes will copy him.

    Keep in mind, there is already some nTLD adoption across the broader online landscape. I’ve seen plumbers on .PLUMBING and photographers on .PHOTOGRAPHY. Those businesses aren’t the sort to get VC funding. But the tech entrepreneurs will see those sites when they call a plumber or smile for the camera. Then they’ll scratch their heads and ask, “Why should I pay $5,000 for a .IO I don’t really want when I can grab my first-choice name in .TECH for the price of coffee?” (It could be just about any nTLD; that’s just an example.)

    In the future, .COM will remain dominant. But the remainder of the pie will be sliced up among more TLDs than just .CO and .IO. Those 2 will lose ground percentage-wise as time goes by.

    1. Great comment Joseph. It’s funny that you mention .Tech in your example because that extension accounts for about one third of the funded startups that launched with a new G last quarter. Still, I keep seeing more and more startups go for ccTLD hack such as .ai (for artificial intelligence) than the new Gs – it looks to me that words on the right of the dot are not “cool” yet. Maybe they never will?

      1. There too, I think it’s a question of lag time. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m guessing the first .AI hacks – I mean websites where .AI signifies artificial intelligence – appeared before 2014. I might be wrong about that.

        Plus, artificial intelligence is a topic many tech startups specialize in. I know a few guys in that area, including 1 ex-Los-Alamos guy who got funded in a big way. Lots of VC gravitates towards AI; so we’d expect .AI to be well represented as a keyword suffix. In that sense, .AI really is a word on the right of the dot.

        Are words on the right of the dot “cool”? I’d answer this way: When it comes to brand names, these entrepreneurs aren’t leaders; they’re mostly followers. You know by looking at 90% of their names in the weekly list that these guys mostly have no taste whatsoever! Their names are a mixture of impatience and trying to fit in. So who leads? Mainstream culture sets fashion. Media agencies and the domain industry spearhead awareness. We lead.

      2. Hello Doron, any idea where I can find this information on startups that were launched with .tech last qtr?

    2. Thank you. You answered my question and save me the time of finding a “not com” extension. Now, I only need to figure out a .com extension for my new business that will work. I appreciate your advice.

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