It’s a conundrum many startups have to deal with early on – buy the matching .COM or go with their second or third choice and worry about it later. In just about every case, worrying about it later means paying more for the domain, but at the same time, if you’re a billion dollar company later, buying the domain isn’t as big of a deal. What can be an issue is confusion between your domain and another domain that people think is your domain.
As many people know, Zoom started on the domain name Zoom.us, and it wasn’t until they were already a billion dollar company that they bought the .COM. Well it turns out, there’s a small marketing company in New Jersey called Zoomus, that happens to own Zoomus.com, and well, with Zoom’s meteoric rise in popularity, they’re seeing confusion hit an all time high. Frank Cahill, the owner of Zoomus shared what it’s been like for him lately with Mashable:
Before the coronavirus, Cahill got calls from people looking for Zoom every once in awhile. He says he bought the Zoomus.com domain name in 2010 or 2011, back when Zoom was “very small and not known,” for around $5,000.
But the calls really started to come in when people across the country started to work from home in March.
“I have [Zoom’s] number posted on my wall so when people do call, I just give them their toll free number, because if I don’t they keep calling back,” he said. “I actually use their service every day of the week, which is ironic.”
According to Cahill, traffic to his website started to go up after the pandemic started. He received as many as four calls each day from users looking for Zoom and not his company, Zoomus. (Source – Mashable)
Elliot Silver, publisher of DomainInvesting.com was included in the article with some good insights and mentioned that the reality is, it’s actually good for Zoom that a confusingly similar company doesn’t own the domain.
“Zoomus.com is probably the most risky domain name for Zoom to not own,” said Silver. “But fortunately for them, it looks to be owned by a totally different business.”(Source – Mashable)
If a rival video conference had owned Zoomus.com in the early days they could have scooped up confused customers and would really be in heavy competition with Zoom now. Of course there probably would have been lawsuits filed on both sides long before now.
No matter how you slice it, things are only going to get more complicated for Frank from Zoomus but I’m not sure what he’s going to do. Changing your name is a pain in the butt, but explaining to everyone that no, you’re not that incredibly popular video conferencing service is, well, also a pain.
What would you do if you were in Frank’s shoes?