The digital currency industry is full of, if not saturated with, companies whose names include the words “coin” or “bit.” Some of the most famous include Coinbase, Bitpay, itBit and Bitgo.
However, digital currency API company Chain.com’s name stands out in three ways. First, there’s its uniqueness: on AngelList’s page of virtual currency startups, which presently number 869, only two other startups have the word “chain” in their name, despite the central role of the blockchain in the technology powering Bitcoin.
Second is its simplicity: most companies combined two words to create a name, such as those mentioned above, whereas Chain.com has the minimalist luxury of being an easy-to-remember word.
Most of all, Chain.com’s name is striking for its rare and precious single-word dot-com URL. Dot-com is far and away the preferred top-level domain, with 117.9 million registered names, as opposed to only 15.1 million names registered as .net, the second most popular non-country-based top-level domain, as of March 31, 2015, according to VeriSign. In fact, .com names account for about 40% of all domain names. However, single-word .com URLs are nearly impossible to find, as many of them are already being used or were snatched up by so-called domain squatters, who purchase a name, not for the purpose of creating a website, but to profit from selling the name.
And profit they do. As this list of the 100 most expensive 2015 domain sales shows, all but one of the top 30 sales involve .com names, the least expensive went for $59,000, and all the names in the top 30 sold for $150,000 or more, all the way up to $8.9 million. Many of them are single word URLs, such as give.com, same.com and luxe.com.
Though my magazine feature on Chain.com is, at 11 pages, plenty long, there wasn’t room to tell the story of how the company got its enviable name and URL, which gives a peek into the somewhat serendipitous and gritty ways in which startups today can launch with names as straightforward as those that pioneered the Internet.
In May 2014, the company’s three cofounders, Adam Ludwin, Devon Gundry and Ryan Smith, were finally certain, after a period of experimentation, that they would focus on creating a developer platform for Bitcoin. In search of funding, they scheduled a meeting with a storied Bay Area venture capital firm. (Chain.com was then based in Los Angeles, but now has its headquarters in San Francisco.)
On the plane, they whipped up a presentation. Right after the flight attendant said, “Prepare for landing,” Ludwin turned to Gundry and Smith and said, “Guys, we still don’t have a name.” The first slide of the newly made deck said, “Blockchain API.” In the few minutes before he had to shut down the computer, Ludwin deleted “API,” which resulted in Blockchain — the name of another company. He then deleted “Block” and was left with Chain.
During the meeting, one of the VCs said, “Cool name. What’s your URL?” Ludwin nonchalantly said that the company had registered a few. The partner responded, “It would be great if you could get Chain.com,” and Ludwin said, “We’re talking to those people,” though, of course, the startup wasn’t yet negotiating with anyone.
Afterward, Ludwin looked up who did own it — and she turned out to be one of the foremost divorce attorneys in the world who handles celebrity and billionaire cases. She had obtained the domain name in her own divorce settlement from a man who was one of the original domain squatters. Ludwin spent three weeks flying back and forth to New York City, racking up legal fees and frequent flyer miles to take her out for meals and try to nab the coveted URL. “She’s a killer negotiator,” he says.
Finally, he was able to obtain it for a good price, but in the final days of negotiations, the company was getting ready to attend a conference in Amsterdam. Uncertain about what URL they would be using, the three cofounders had printed two sets of business cards — one with the URL Chain.com and another with the URL Chain.io. The day before heading off to Amsterdam, Ludwin finalized the deal — and so Chain.com was born.
Laura Shin is the author of the Forbes eBook, The Millennial Game Plan: Career And Money Secrets For Today's World. Available for Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle, Nook and Vook.
However, digital currency API company Chain.com ’s name stands out in three ways. First, there’s its uniqueness: on AngelList’s page of virtual currency startups , which presently number 869, only two other startups have the word “chain” in their name, despite the central role […]