I first met Richard Lau and James Morfopoulos over a decade ago – at that time I just knew they had some pretty impressive domain names and experience building online businesses. In our first conversation, I remember Richard was a man of few words who seemed a lot more interested in learning about me than talking about himself.
I found this to be the norm for the first few years as I got to know Richard and James. It was clear they were both incredibly interested in learning about people and rooting for their success. Richard was also the first person I met who had really made charity a core part of his life. When we started Bold Metrics (then called Fashion Metric), Richard and James was two of our first customers, and I think they both still has some of our original shirts in their wardrobe.
About three years after meeting Richard and James, I was in Vancouver on a business trip and we all met for dinner. That was the first time I was really able to do a deeper dive and understand more about how they had turned some of the world’s most recognizable domain names into meaningful businesses, and I was blown away.
Richard and James are the brains behind brands like Resume.com (acquired by Indeed) and Logo.com, and I’d probably described them as the “dynamic duo.” They’re both insanely smart, intensely drive, and easily two of the most humble people I’ve ever met. Over the last decade we’ve had the chance to travel the world together, share some pretty amazing adventures, and I always find myself so inspired after talking with Richard and James.
All this being said, I’m incredible honored to be able to bring you an interview with Richard to do a deeper dive into what they’re doing at Logo.com, and provide a window into the winning formula behind two people I look up to immensely. With that, let’s get to the interview, enjoy!
1) Before we dive-into Logo.com, you guys have been developing out domains for some time now – what was the first domain you developed?
I’d say that FreePhotos.com was the first domain we developed out. It really was years ahead of its time. It was basically what Unsplash is today. The concept was “take a photo, leave a photo” – royalty-free, no credit required photos posted by anyone to be used by anyone. The problem was, back in 2004 we didn’t have camera phones, and the upload time was horrendous. It started with the majority of photos being ones that I personally took and uploaded. Looking at the screenshots in Archive.org, it is cool to imagine what would have happened if we’d keep developing it over the years as smart phones came onto the scene.
2) One of my favorites was Resume.com, it would be great to hear a bit more about how that all started and where it ended up.
We bought Resume.com and separately acquired Resumes.com from another seller more than 10 years ago. Our original idea was to have a simple Resume Builder. We used an off-shore team, then a mix of half on-shore, half off-shore, and then finally just went with all on-shore, local in Vancouver. It’s easy to look at a website and think ‘oh, they made a few changes’ when in reality, a full rewrite of the back-end system has just taken place. In the early years of building the site, it was a slow process. Like starting to roll a huge boulder. Finally we had it rolling full-steam ahead and surpassed 4 million resumes. When you focus on delivering high-quality service to visitors in a way that matches what they expect to find at your premium domain, the organic traffic firehose starts to kick-in and you end up with this steady stream of traffic that search engines are happy to deliver to you for free since the user experience is being met perfectly. About two years ago we sold the business and the entire team also joined Indeed.com. We knew that it would take someone larger than us to be able to take Resume.com to the next level.
3) Okay, now onto Logo.com, first – this is one heck of a domain name, how did you end up acquiring it?
All super-premium one word .com domains are expensive to buy and Logo.com is no different. It’s surprising how many people think we were able to hand-register it. I only wish that were the case! While we paid a LOT for the domain, we value the Logo.com domain name by itself well into the 7 figures. Now that we have built a business with staff and IP on top of the domain, the business is worth far more than the original purchase price for domain name itself.
4) When you first bought the domain, did you know exactly what you were going to do with it or did this evolve over time?
Generally when we purchase a super premium domain name we have in our minds an idea for the best and highest use case for that domain by an end-user. This is no different. We saw a service that would solve a pain point that we ourselves were experiencing. High-quality, superfast delivery of inexpensive logos. That’s what we had in mind. And that is what we are delivering today.
We believe that we are able to cut down the two weeks that it takes on average to have a logo created for a new company. Getting that time down to a few minutes with a cost that is a fraction of the current average price of a logo will turn this industry on its head. Having a professional logo design for less than $20 delivered to you within 10 minutes sounds unbelievable but that’s what our logo maker is able to do.
5) Can you share more about the backend technology behind Logo.com?
Logo.com uses predominantly serverless architecture. We host it at AWS and we distribute work to AWS Lambda and utilise managed databases as much as possible. The goal is for our code to be as focused on logos as possible and abstract away as much other complexity as we can. The front end of the site is hosted at Webflow for that reason as well.
6) What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in building out and launching Logo.com?
Learning to work efficiently as a remote team. It’s a fantastic way to work, but it’s challenging to get the processes right and it’s not for everyone. It took us some time to dial in how we work, how on-board new people, and how we maintain a great culture while seeing each other only once or twice a year. A lot has been written about how to work remotely but it’s different in every company, just like any workplace culture, and takes some time to figure out. More than anything we have learned that communication, organisation, and transparency are even more important than they are when you are in person.
7) What has your biggest triumph been so far?
The great feedback we’ve had from users. It’s amazing to see our users out there using their logos to build new brands and start new businesses. There’s a lot of work left to do, but it feels great to see the logos in the wild and being used by all kinds of businesses.
8) How do you differentiate Logo.com from a site like 99Designs? Would the same customer use both or are there different types of people/companies that would use each?
Our automated logo maker is very different from a contest driven logo website. A contest can be a lot of fun because you get humans from the other side of the globe submitting lots of different types of designs into a single contest. The downside is that it is a time suck as you wait for the designs to come in. Also as the contest moves along we’ve personally found that later entries tend to be designs that are simply being slightly modified from earlier entries by different designers.
Our customers tend to be people who have a higher value of their time and are seeking clean, professional logo designs. So if you don’t mind spending days or weeks going through hundreds of very similar designs then a contest site is just fine. However if you want a logo delivered within minutes that is a clean professional design then you are our target customer. Our goal is to get your brand ready in just a few minutes so you can focus on the rest of your business.
9) Can you share what’s next for Logo.com, i.e. any new features/enhancements on the horizon?
We continue to build on our strengths and add additional creative designs to our AI engine. It has taken us about a year to surpass the quality of our competitors and we see this is just the beginning. As we are coming from the domain name business it should come as no surprise that we are including free domain names with some of our packages.
As for a new feature, we are just about to launch a website-building tool so that new businesses can get online with a fully functioning website, a logo and a domain just as quickly as possible.
10) I like to end my interviews with something fun, tell me a fun fact about you that people might not know!
When I was young I loved the Curious George books so much that to this day my mother still calls me George!