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Who Said It: Jason Calacanis on Calm.com

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Unicorns. Aside from being mythical creatures, the term unicorn is also used to describe companies. In particular, privately held startup companies that are valued at $1 billion or more.

Most unicorn companies don't start out by owning their best, exact-match .COM domain name. When a company starts its life, domain names aren't necessarily a priority, so many opt for lesser names. Lesser names could include a prefix word (such as "Get" or "Try"), or they could be an alternative extension to .COM (such as .CO or .IO).

On their way to becoming a unicorn, many of these companies paid the sometimes vast amounts of money needed to acquire their exact-match .COM domain.

In my series “Who Said It”, I’m going to look at the origin of famous domain-related quotes. Today, we start with one of the most famous angel investors in the world, who also happens to know a good domain when he sees one.

Jason Calacanis made his name as the founder of Weblogs Inc, and later Mahalo.com. He also owns domain names such as Inside.com and ADay.com. Despite being known as an angel investor, Jason has also made seven-figures from selling domains, since Jason sold the domain 20.com for $1.75 million, eleven years after purchasing the name for $75,000.

Away from domains, Jason is a prolific investor in general, having made investments in famous companies such as Uber, Medium, and Robinhood. In April 2014, he made this statement when disclosing why he made a $378,000 investment in a company. He said:

“A company that I fell in love with, Calm.com, was to be my first test. I picked this startup for a number of reasons, including exceptional branding (a four-letter domain name that’s in the dictionary!)”

Calm is the now world-renowned meditation app that launched in 2012. To date, the Calm app has over 50 million downloads. The company has raised a total of $143 million and reached unicorn status (valuation of $1 billion or more) in 2019.

Right from the start, Calm got their branding right. The company looks to have acquired the Calm.com domain in late 2011 just before the company launched. The terms of the deal have never been disclosed, but for a company to have the foresight to get such a valuable domain before launching is commendable.

Jason also agreed that it’s a valuable domain. In a LinkedIn comment in 2014, Jason valued the domain only at $500,000 or more, saying that four-letter dictionary .COM domains are hugely valuable.

Of course, a domain name doesn’t make a company. Ultimately, the passion of the founder and the thousands of paying customers were enough for Jason to part with his money, but from a domain perspective, it’s interesting that an angel investor put such high precedence on the Calm.com domain and digital branding in general. A valuable lesson to entrepreneurs.

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Emeka
Emeka
3 months ago

Calm is worth 7 figures to me.Good article James.??.

David J Castello
David J Castello
3 months ago

Excellent article about someone who did it right. Calm.com is a great brand.

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Who Said It: Jason Calacanis on Calm.com

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