In the past year, Zoom has benefited as the world fought COVID-19. The company moved from 10 million daily meeting participants in December 2019 to 200 million in March 2020, according to CEO Eric Yuan.
Zoom’s website became one of the most visited sites on the Internet, with SimilarWeb estimating that Zoom.us receives 2.81 billion visitors per month. Although Zoom acquired Zoom.com from Media Options in 2018 for a reported $2 million, Zoom’s main website still operates on Zoom.us, with Zoom.com redirecting Zoom.us.
Another $2 million domain, Freedom.com, acquired by Freedom Mortgage in 2017, still redirects visitors to FreedomMortgage.com. Elsewhere, Prodigy Education acquired Prodigy.com from AT&T in a deal facilitated by the aforementioned Media Options in 2020 for an undisclosed, but likely significant fee. Prodigy.com is, as of writing, redirecting to ProdigyGame.com.
Why, then, do expensive domain purchases redirect to seemingly “lesser” domain names? There are several potential reasons. If you can think of any that I miss, please comment below.
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Sometimes, a domain name such as Freedom.com may only have been acquired as a brand protection move. Freedom Mortgage is known professionally as Freedom Mortgage, but it has a lot of goodwill attached to the Freedom name. Acquiring Freedom.com for $2 million will ensure that no other company could acquire the name and cause potential brand confusion with Freedom Mortgage. Acquiring Freedom.com also ensures that any rogue emails sent to an @Freedom.com email address rather than an @FreedomMortgage.com address aren’t lost or unsecured. Employees at Freedom Mortgage likely handle a lot of sensitive information via email.
Companies such as Zoom have built products using their original domain names. Zoom’s domain, Zoom.us, will likely be entrenched in the code of the Zoom product and the associated workflows. This was confirmed by a Zoom spokesperson to Mashable:
“We did acquire the .com domain and in the near-term have been forwarding it to .us because that is where our existing infrastructure is and it is the familiar domain for our customers.”
Changing Zoom’s entire system from Zoom.us to Zoom.com is likely an extremely time-consuming and costly venture that Zoom cannot or will not undertake in the midst of a global pandemic that has seen its user numbers increase exponentially.
Similarly to infrastructure issues, a company might acquire its brand-match .COM domain, but short term security concerns might lead the company to stick with its original domain name. Those security concerns could stem from changing the domain name in a company’s product code, or backend. Sometimes a company will acquire a seven-figure domain name in order to fix a security issue, though. One notable example is Microsoft, which reportedly spent a seven-figure fee acquiring Corp.com to stop a potentially damaging data leak originating from Microsoft’s coding.
Facebook paid $8.5 million to acquire the two-letter .COM domain FB.com, according to NameBio. Despite paying so much money for the domain, FB.com redirects to Facebook.com. Facebook does, though, put the name to use. FB.com is used as Facebook’s internal corporate email domain, which Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg confirmed in a 2010 press conference. FB.com does host some external corporate pages such as about.fb.com, but predominantly the name seems to be used internally.
Although a company may acquire its exact-match .COM for a multi-million dollar fee, there are occasions where they will redirect that domain to a local market domain name. For example, in September 2020, gaming brand LeTou acquired LT.com for a 7 figure fee. In the UK, LeTou has opted to forward LT.com to LT.co.uk, taking advantage of the UK’s ccTLD for a local market. In other countries though, LT.com redirects to LeTou’s main website.