Some startups prefer .IO to .COM


The day has come, and while .COM is still without a doubt the undisputed king and the domain that I would say most startups prefer, this weekend I encountered a startup that told me they’d rather have a .IO than a .COM. As someone that sells a fair share of my domain names to startups, I get emails from founders all the time either asking me to help them buy a domain name or asking for a list of potential domains they could buy from my portfolio.

I would say that the vast majority of the time startups insist on .COM but lately I’ve been seeing this change and this weekend was a good example. I received an email from a startup in the IT space who told me they were looking for a .IO domain, when I asked them if they also wanted to see .COMs they responded by saying they actually preferred .IO since they were in the IT space.

Now I’m not saying to dump all your .COMs and buy .IO’s like it’s going out of style. Most of my investment dollars are still going into .COM, but I can tell you, the times they are a changing and we are going to see people look to the right of the dot more so than ever before.

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Joseph Peterson October 3, 2016, 7:54 pm

    Perhaps the times are changing. But startups chasing .IO are actually following a trend that began several years ago. They’re not cutting edge; they’re jumping aboard a bandwagon.

    Tech entrepreneurs, like everybody else, are 1% innovators and 99% imitators. In that narrow milieu, .IO has by now become widespread enough that they join in for fear of being left out, of seeming too different from the next guy waiting in line for the same VC.

    Startups always lag behind as fashions change. If times are changing now, then that will be reflected in a few creative startups who think outside the box and go with an nTLD. They’ll be weird today the way .IO was weird once. And 5 years down the road, other wannabes in Silicon Valley will imitate them.

    Nothing wrong with .IO. But times aren’t changing in this area. They DID change, and they may be done changing – if .IO is reaching a saturation point.

  • MoveCon October 3, 2016, 7:56 pm

    There are no limits on human stupidity, especially among the millennial crowd.

    Are they actually able to comprehend that one day, the time will come to “go commercial” and start earning money?

  • Mark Thorpe October 3, 2016, 7:59 pm

    That’s why I bought and awhile back. Because you just never know. 🙂

  • Tessa Holcomb October 3, 2016, 8:10 pm

    While I agree that .IO is making its mark in the startup community, it’s still pretty clear that the most influential and successful brands are represented with short, memorable .com domains and the right one-word dot com domain signifies competence and professionalism essentially pre-selling your company as an industry authority. has worked with several .IO startups, after proving their business model and/or securing additional funding, to acquire their “company name” .COM. However, by waiting, they are finding that the cost of acquiring their .COM is higher than it would have been if they acquired it before increasing in size and popularity. But, like you said, “the times they are a changing” so I do agree we’ll see more startups, especially in the IT space, going in that direction. Thank you, as always, for your insight, Morgan! 🙂

    • Paul McMenamy October 4, 2016, 5:48 am

      Very well put Tessa.
      In my experience, however, quite often the .COM is unavailable – either it’s in use or parked for sale.
      I’m also noticing clients looking at .top – this right of the dot extension actually reinforces the business name.
      As time goes on, and due to the high costs of most .COM brandables/best category names, it is inevitable that there will be a continuing drift to non-.COM names.
      Interesting times ahead – and new opportunities for investors too!

  • Andrew Richard October 3, 2016, 8:24 pm

    I agree with you Morgan io domains is the best way for startups ,because they have to spend more to acquire .coms

  • Martin October 4, 2016, 3:32 am

    Only last week we had one of these .IO companies offering US$ 10K for their .Com equivalent. There really is nothing new here and this is just a natural cycle we’ve all seen before with .Co, .Mobi, .Me, .TV, .Info, etc. Many start with alternative extensions, mature, and then seek to upgrade to .Com.

  • John October 4, 2016, 5:26 am

    Hi Morgan – it would be interesting to know if any Chinese tech companies , startup or otherwise, have began using the .io extension whereas the .com have become so expensive. Perhaps Mike Carson would know. Thank you.

  • Zantac October 4, 2016, 8:08 am

    Morgan, you cannot be more wrong. Companies that are shortsighted and settle for a not-com will quickly regret it in terms of traffic and email loss to the actual .com competitor. The confusion factor will be immense and only .com is taken seriously. Other endings are inferior and laughable. Also, VC’s will usually tell them to go back and get a big boy .com before funding consideration.

    • Morgan October 4, 2016, 9:42 pm

      @Zantac – tell that to companies like that have raised $14.7M, they are just one of many examples. VC’s have no problem funding companies that brand around .IO, if you’re B2C I think you need a .COM but hard to say a B2C company needs one in all cases, especially in the early days of their company…

  • Mike Carson October 6, 2016, 10:12 pm

    Not just startups – US Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton is using her .io domain in commercials:

  • Peter Nilsson February 4, 2017, 2:04 pm

    I agree 100% with you Morgan.
    and i have one great domain- offer at (if anyone is intrested):

    Best Regards Peter Nilsson 2017-02-04


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