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2010 - 2020 a Decade in Domains part 3 - Short and sweet: brands with short names
By SmartBranding Team access_time 14 min read

One word names for business are some of the quickest and simplest ways to have a lasting impact on your target audience, without leaving them tongue-tied.

Rather than trying to describe the complex nature of your company in a handful of combined words, you refine your entire business essence down to a single word. It dictates how customers will think and feel about your company from day one.

Names have power.

Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

Irish entrepreneur brothers John and Patrick Collison founded Stripe in 2010, initially using the name /Dev/Payments. As you can imagine it caused some problems.

(The name) is horrendous to say. Plus, most schemas don’t allow slashes in company names. So we decided we needed to change it.

John and Patrick Collison, Founders of Stripe

“However, as it turned out, there were a few problems with the name “/dev/payments”. First of all, the state of Delaware doesn’t allow leading slashes in corporate names (yes, it does allow slashes in other positions). So we ended up officially incorporating as the indecipherable SLASHDEVSLASHFINANCE (we saw ourselves as building financial infrastructure for the internet and didn’t want to be limited to payments).

We started getting mail addressed to SLASHDEV/SLASHFINANCE, and we saw other similarly crazy misparses of the name.

Secondly, the name looked pretty ridiculous to anyone who didn’t see the association with device nodes and how easy it is to write to them. Imagine being in talks with a very serious banker from a very serious bank and then telling them you worked at “Slash Dev Slash Finance”. It’s not a great way to build trust.

Thirdly, Amazon has a product called Amazon DevPay. It’s a similar product in a similar — well, almost identical — space. The names were all-too-similar, and we didn’t want to even have to worry about user confusion, much less potential trademark issues.” – Greg Brockman, former CTO of Stripe.

Names like PayStack and PayDemon were on the list but eventually they started to look any names they could think of and seeing what was present on the domain. had a lukewarm reception at first, but over time is seemed to have emotion and importantly was not associated with any other specific company or brand.

The domain owner was an MIT alumni and the subsequent sale was relatively smooth. The exact price of the domain is undisclosed, though Patrick Collison shared on Quora that « it was less than you might think. ».

In June of 2011, roughly 18 months after the company began, the first designer joined the team and synced the brand and messaging which lives throughout their product and website.

Carrot has a fun story about how its name was chosen.

I pulled back and said, okay, what should a website be for a small business?

CEO Trevor Mauch told Domain Name Wire

The business launched on the domain name as the exact brand match was already registered.

It shouldn’t be a brochure. It shouldn’t be just something they land on to get information…it should be a carrot, right? It should be a customer carrot. It should be something that you dangle in front of them and it attracts them. They bite it.

Mauch knew this domain wasn’t ideal. Over time, he grew tired of explaining his email address to customers. Then a big gut check happened at a conference the company sponsored. “50% of the people that were [at the conference] came up to us and said, ‘We love Oncarrot. We absolutely love OnCarrot.’”

Carrot upgraded its domain name from to the shorter and more intuitive in April 2019, they paid $600,000 for the domain.

For us, our domain name was fine. It would have continued to do what it needed to do. But it didn’t further cement our brand. It actually distracted from it and made it harder for people to find us. –

Steli Efti, CEO and co-founder of Close, started in 2012 with his first company called Elastic Sales. The company was essentially a paid R&D project that produced a high growth sales SaaS product (Close). By 2014, the software was bigger than their services company, so they decided to shut down Elastic Sales and focus on building up the new venture. The company started off with the domain name before acquiring the exact brand match domain name in April 2019.

“Right off the bat when we got started in 2013, we of course wanted to own the domain name. Who wouldn’t? However, the domain wasn’t available at the time, as it was being used by another startup just getting off the ground and raising a healthy investment round in the social networking space.”

As the years went on and our customer base grew, we noticed that more people were referring to us as “Close, ” rather than “Close-dot-I-O” or “Close-I-O” and we’d been adopting that name internally as well.

Steli Efti

”Now that we’ve reached a level of maturity and stability in the CRM space, we decided it was finally time to invest in acquiring the .com domain—in part to reconcile that disconnect between calling ourselves Close internally and “Close-dot-I-O” externally. ”

We wanted something common, people will recognize it, they understand it, they can say it.

Steli Efti –

Laird’s history goes back almost 200 years and the business has evolved over that time into the global engineering company we know today. The company was founded by John Laird in 1824 as Birkenhead Ironworks in Liverpool. In 1903 it merged with Charles Cammell & Company Limited and rebranded to Cammell Laird. After the nationalization of ship building in 1977, the company moved to security products and later on, in 1990 to electronics.

By 2008 the company has changed name to Laird Group PLC and then to Laird PLC. Advent International, a private equity firm, acquired the business in 2018. At the time they were operating on the domains and Since then, the company has been divided into independent products – Laird Connectivity, Laird Performance Materials and Laird Thermal Systems. In march 2019, Liard Technologies acquired the exact brand match domain name, unifying its brand and establishing a global position. –

Although its name was Joust from the beginning, this innovative thought leader and futurist in the banking industry didn’t start on the domain name Initially you could find them on

CEO Lamine Zarrad shares the origins of the brand name:

”Freelance professionals are our key demographic, so we looked into the history of the word “freelance.” Though the term “free lances” first showed up in Ivanhoe, it refers to a real phenomenon of unaffiliated medieval soldiers. From there we got to “Joust.” And, well, the URL for “HiredGun, ” was already taken. (just kidding) In addition to the lance concept, the shield worked well for us because PayArmour, our anchor product, serves to protect freelancers.”

We were always interested in the domain. We located the owner and came to an arrangement. Having this domain made us feel that our branding was complete. It’s simple and easy to remember.

CEO Lamine Zarrad

The company acquired their exact brand match domain name in 2018. In 2020 the startup was acquired by ZenBusiness. –

Slack began as an internal tool for Stewart Butterfield’s company Tiny Speck during the development of Glitch, an online game. Launched in August 2013, the name was explained in a tweet by Stewart in 2016 as an acronym that stands for “Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge.

Communications app acquired the exact brand match domain back in 2013 as an upgrade to which they were using at the time. The acquisition price was shared later on in a Quora post – $60,000, a great deal for such a short memorable name! –

As for how they got the name Chief, Carolyn Childers, Co-Founder and CEO of Chief says:

It was so funny to hear how many people were like, ‘Ah, it kinda feels masculine, don’t you think?’ And we thought it was really fun to lean into that and take ownership of it in a really interesting way.

Chief, a private network and club for women executives, had been using the domain name before upgrading to the exact brand match domain By the end of 2019 the company raised $25 million in funding over two rounds.

Wish, an online e-commerce platform, was started by Piotr Szulczewski, a former Google engineer, as a software company called ContextLogic. In May 2011, Szulczewski invited college friend Danny Zhang to relaunch the company as Wish.

Wish gets its name from the company’s original business model: it started as a wish-list. By using the app, users could make a wish-list of the products they wanted to have. They could then order these products on other websites, enabling Wish to earn money with affiliate links. In 2013, Wish became an online retailer itself after it asked merchants to host their products directly in the Wish app. The company has the exact brand match domain name

Wish was the most downloaded shopping app worldwide in 2018 and is now the third-biggest ecommerce marketplace in the U.S. by sales. –

Mode, a collaborative data platform, was founded in 2013 by Derek Steer, Benn Stancil, and Josh Ferguson. The company provides online tools for analyzing data in real time.

The company launched on and acquired the exact brand match domain name in 2018. The name was previously used for a social platform that closed in 2016. –

Online marketing technology company SumoMe rebranded to Sumo in February 2017. The company acquired the exact brand match domain name upgrading from Noah Kagan, Co-Founder of was very open that the company invested $1,500,000 to get the domain and even got some good publicity in major entrepreneur publications on the topic.

Anyone can have a two or three word name. But one word names? They carry more prestige. Just ask Madonna.

Noah Kagan

In his interview with Michael Cyger on DomainSherpa, Kagan shared that acquiring the four letter word, wasn’t exactly an overnight success. Before leading with the vision of building something ultra big, he came up with the name but tossed it because sending the first impression of stealing software probably wasn’t the best route to successful partnerships and customer loyalty.

He then came up with the name – software suggests tech and taco portrays ingredients (products and services) you need to make something people can’t resist. The brand name was dropped because “software” dated the company and was too generic. He then started brainstorming words with a friend at a bar that contained the word app (keep in mind this was in 2010) and crafted names like AppMonster, AppChief, which eventually lead to AppSumo.

He later purchased for his spin-off business which helps entrepreneurs automate their site growth. And it wasn’t until seven years of persistence that Noah acquired the domain

Several sites popped up after us in the SaaS space that utilized “sumo” in their name. We were the original and now we are positioned as the original. –

Postmark is a transactional email delivery provider founded in 2010 by the team. They launched on the domain name. The company upgraded its domain name to the exact brand math in December 2019. –

Scott P. Kurnit, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor in media and technology, founded in early 2010. He is the Chairman & CEO of, the parent company of (which allows keeping, discussion and sharing of favorite products). In early 2012, according to DomainIQ’s WHOIS history, Keep Holdings upgraded its domain name from to the exact brand match domain

Keep Holdings used as a discovery tool for the latest trends in fashion, and developed a large following around the name. Keep has raised $174 million in funding since 2015.

Brex, the fintech business that’s taken the startup world by storm, was founded by Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi on January 3, 2017. The guys had just given up their augmented reality startup in Y Combinator and wondering what to do next when they saw their batch mates struggling to get even the most basic corporate credit cards — and in a lot of cases, having to guarantee those cards themselves. That’s how the idea of Brex was born.

The brand name Brex was strategically chosen. Pedro and Henrique wanted something that was simple and easy to remember, so they turned to a name-generating website to find what worked best.

The domain was sold back in 2007 for $3,100 on an auction. Since then it changed hands twice and was eventually acquired by the current Brex team for undisclosed amount. In June 2019, Brex’s total equity funding was $315 million, with a valuation of $2.6 billion — a considerable growth trajectory for a company founded in 2017. –

Project Loon began as a research and development project by X (formerly Google X). It was officially announced as a Google project on June 14, 2013. The project is appropriately named Project Loon, partially because it involves balloons and partially because it sounds looney.

The project spun out into a separate company in July 2018. In January 2019, Google acquired the exact brand match domain name, upgrading from The 30 years old domain seems to have been belong to someone with a looney sense of humor before that, see this screenshot from how the site looked back in 2006!

To get his “dream” domain Swedish entrepreneur Erik Bergman invested $900,000 to outbid all competitors for in the NameJet/RightOfTheDot live domain auction held at the 2018 NamesCon conference in Las Vegas. The young entrepreneur acquired the domain name to develop a commercial endeavor with the goal of giving away all of the proceeds to charitable causes.

“When it came to domain names it first started out with actual websites – small affiliate sites in various segments. At first, I was only interested in exact match domains for all the SEO benefits but later on it’s been more about being able to build a big brand with it”. – Eric Bergman

Eric Bergman shared in an interview with SmartBranding the story behind

I wanted something that can work in any industry, be a name that everyone can spell, have positive connections to and will remember. I had gone over tons of options but after I came up with I just couldn’t let that idea go.

Erik Bergman

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How does your brand name match your company vision? What new horizons can a better name open? Get in touch if you feel your brand deserves a better name, we are always happy to help.

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