“Who Said It?” Paul Graham’s Domain Advice for US Companies

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Paul Graham is a name many of you may be familiar with. He’s the founder of Y Combinator, the startup incubator, and is generally regarded as one of the key figures of the Internet era. Graham’s brainchild, Y Combinator, has been responsible for helping thousands of startups gain traction including the likes of Stripe, Airbnb, and Coinbase.

As such a widely respected figure, Paul’s opinion matters. He has become known for his intermittent essays on his website PaulGraham.com. Those essays offer a wide range of thoughts and advice.

One of the essays Paul wrote was entitled “Change Your Name,” and it started with a pretty powerful opening line:

“If you have a US startup called X and you don’t have x.com, you should probably change your name.”

That affirmation from Paul reinforces the widely held belief that a company should be operating on their exact brand match .COM domain. He goes on to give the prominent example of Stripe, a highly successful company that Y Combinator was instrumental in developing. Before naming Stripe, the founders made a list of potential domains and ultimately acquired Stripe.com. They also found Parse.com, which is now used by a company unsurprisingly named Parse.

Even though this advice from Paul was written in 2015, it still rings true today. If you’re a US company and you don’t own your exact-match .COM domain, you are “signaling weakness”, in the words of Paul Graham.

Companies that Paul has invested in have heeded his advice on domain names, with a recent example being Aesthetic (using Aesthetic.com), who rebranded from Plato Design after it became clear that they wouldn’t be able to acquire Plato.com

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