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Bob Hawkes

A Look At Zoom: The Companies and the Domain Names

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By Bob Hawkes, May 21, 2020 at 4:38 PM
  1. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    It seems that everyone is using Zoom and talking about Zoom, or more formally Zoom Video Communications Ltd. To domainers, part of the conversation is about the .us domain extension the company uses.

    Samer started a NamePros discussion asking why they continue to use zoom.us, when they own their matching zoom.com name.

    I will summarize possible reasons, but also look more deeply at this company, as well as a few of the many other companies that use the word zoom in their name.


    A Bit About Zoom

    Let’s first look at how Zoom Video Communications started and developed, and then at some of the other companies using zoom as part of their brand. Along the way, we will introduce some of the many domain names involved.
    • Eric Yuan founded Zoom in 2011. The first version of the company’s conferencing software was launched in summer 2012. It allowed up to 15 people to connect,
    • The company became a unicorn, a startup that has achieved $1 billion valuation, in 2017, although it did not make its first profit until 2019.
    • Zoom had its initial public offering in 2019. In late April 2020 the company became listed on the NASDAQ-100 index of major technology companies.
    • Founder Eric Yuan was pretty determined to come to the United States from China. It took him 9 tries over 2 years to secure a visa. Once in the United States, however, he moved rapidly up in the Webex division at Cisco, becoming a vice-president in the engineering department.
    • Yuan, and more than 40 other engineers, left Cisco to start what is now Zoom. They left secure positions at a huge company, and it was a bold and potentially risky move.
    • When the new company was first incorporated, the name was not Zoom but rather Saasbee. One of the people involved in the early funding and development of the company, Jim Scheinman proposed the name Zoom. The name was inspired by a children’s book, Zoom City.
    • Zoom is noted for thriftiness, working, especially in the early years, from frugal quarters. Even now, the CEO shares an office.
    • That frugality may have been part of the reason they went with zoom.us for their domain name. I was not able to determine what price they paid when they secured the domain name in 2012. It seems to have been in the hands of a private domain investor prior to being acquired by Zoom in 2012. The zoom.us domain name was created in April, 2002. A 2006 sale of zoom.us at Afternic was at $1000.
    • The Zoom stock price has zoomed in recent months. Zoom stock was trading at nearly $175 the day I wrote this article in May 2020. The stock price was $36 at the initial public offering, although it traded well above that even by end of opening day.
    • At time of writing in May 2020, the market capitalization of Zoom, about $49 billion, is more than the valuations of seven of the world’s largest airlines combined. Of course, these have not been good months for airlines.
    • In May 2020 Zoom acquired Canadian technology startup Keybase.io, their first major acquisition of another company. The acquisition will permit Zoom to further develop enterprise encryption products.
    • In December 2018 Zoom Video Communications acquired zoom.com from Media Options for $2 million. Media Options had previously announced plans to operate a Zoom Domain Insight Service on the name, and had filed a trademark application.
    • The zoom.com domain name was created on Apr 22, 1999, just three years prior to the zoom.us domain name. The domain zoom.com has been used by at least two other companies prior to being acquired by Media Options. In the period leading up to 2009-2010, it was used by Zoom Telephonics Inc. of Boston, and then in 2011 by Zoom Technologies in Beijing, China.
    • In researching this article, I examined Zoom media releases and promotional materials, and their Twitter feed, but it does not seem Zoom are making active use of the zoom.com domain name outside of redirection. Their email communication is mainly via a contact form, but the address they give is [email protected].
    • Zoom do not own ZoomUs.com. That domain name is in use by a small marketing company in New Jersey.
    • Many other companies use zoom in their business or product name. There are 583 live records in the TESS trademark database alone.
    • This page lists some of the companies that are, or have, used zoom in their name - it includes a Japanese audio company, a gaming company, an airline, a car sharing operation, retail kiosks service, and others.
    • Numerous companies operate under the exact name zoom in different extensions. For example, ZoomHub, a service to efficiently view high resolution images, is on zoom.it, while Zoom.Me combines an app and digital photo frame to share digital images with distant loved ones.
    • Dofo shows more than 24,000 active websites including word zoom, but I believe that includes some for-sale listings that have single page lander sites.
    • The NameBio database shows 185 domain sales including the word zoom.
    • According to Dofo there are currently 5276 domain names including the term zoom listed for sale across the covered marketplaces.
    • The exact word zoom has sold for 5-figures in both .co and .ca extensions. The .co has been in use by Microsoft for a long time. The .ca is currently in redirection use.
    • According to Dofo, the exact word zoom is registered in 354 extensions, with 72 of them currently listed for sale.
    • Some large businesses secure their name in many different country code extensions. There does not seem to be any effort by Zoom to secure the exact term zoom in numerous country code or alternative extensions.
    So Why Not Use the Zoom.com Domain Name?

    So what are possible reasons why, despite purchasing it for $2 million, Zoom do not use zoom.com for more than redirection purposes?
    • They don’t need to. Clearly the company has had spectacular success, this year especially. Most people know they are on zoom.us, so why change? The day I checked they were at the top of the first page of Google, and had an Alexa ranking in the top 100.
    • Zoom simply don’t have time to manage a domain name change right now. A lot has been happening with explosive growth, and dealing with security issues. Maybe moving to their new name simply has not yet got to the top of their to-do list.
    • There are security concerns in changing the domain name of a major brand. They may prefer to wait until they can develop a bulletproof transition plan. Nametree explains it this way.
    • They simply like the phrase Zoom Us.
    • If they were zoom.com, they might feel less differentiated from other well-established companies that are mainly on some variant of the name in the .com extension. In a way, the .us being an unusual extension for a major company could be seen as distinctive. In an analysis of the top 1000 companies in Crunchbase, they are the only company using a .us extension.
    • They have better current uses for discretionary funds than investing in the technical and marketing effort to rebrand. They started from an engineering base with a strong emphasis on the technology and user experience.
    Ryan217 nicely summarized the situation with respect to staying on zoom.us, for now at least.
    Whatever the reasons that they continue to use zoom.us as their primary web address, it will be interesting to see if such a high-profile business on .us may spur additional use of the extension by other major companies.


    Why Pay $2 Million for an Underused Domain Name?

    The standard arguments about not wanting to lose web or email traffic, must have been considerations in the acquisition.

    Furthermore, assuming they eventually plan to use it more actively, the prestige of owning your matching .com is priceless.

    With so many potential end users for zoom.com, it was smart to secure the domain name before waiting too long, even if they did not have immediate plans to use zoom.com. It appears likely the domain name would have been gone forever, had they not secured it when they did.

    However, I think ultimately the reason is related to international expansion plans, and we will see zoom.com in future use as their main domain name. Currently, even though they have almost 500 engineers in China, and operate in most countries, the majority of Zoom paying clients are from the United States.

    It would appear that the company is set to significantly expand in global markets. Operating from a .us domain extension in those markets is problematic as explained in this article.
    While the .com contract is also associated with the United States government, .com is perceived to be the premier international extension, not tied to any one country.

    As mentioned earlier with respect to the Keybase acquisition, Zoom are expanding product offerings. As Zoom broadens the services it offers, zoom.com will be a better choice than zoom.us, if the latter is associated with the phrase zoom us.

    While it was certainly wise for Zoom to secure the zoom.com domain name when they did, I don’t think that the current success of the company can be strongly associated with having that domain name. Having their matching .com may well be critical for even greater success on the international stage going forward, however.

    Please share your thoughts in the comments section.


    I wanted to acknowledge Dofo, DomainIQ and NameBio that were used in researching aspects of this article.

    Any speculations about Zoom plans or motivations expressed in this article, are those of the author, or cited sources, and not from the company itself.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020 at 4:47 PM
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  4. Bob Hawkes

    About The Author — Bob Hawkes

    Domain analyst, writer and educator, with particular interests in domain name phrases and non-business uses for domain names. I am a risk averse domain investor who only invests modest amounts in a variety of extensions and niches. Don't hesitate to contact me - I like to help!

    This is Bob Hawkes's 40th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

    Home Page:
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  5. Comments (18)

  6. TERADOMAIN

    TERADOMAIN QualityNames.com VIP

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    Nice Article.

    Thanks for sharing.
     
  7. Keith DeBoer

    Keith DeBoer Top Member PRO VIP

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    Their stock price has been zooming too, despite the security issues caused by hacks and pranks.
    upload_2020-5-21_12-6-31.png
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020 at 5:06 PM
  8. handpicked

    handpicked Established Member

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    Nice intriguing artilce from Bob as usual, while I agree to most of the points but not the statement that says "I don’t think that the current success of the company can be strongly associated with having that domain name." This is because, the name 'Zoom' a.k.a 'Zoom us' has gone crazy with the school and the student faternity in India and so is the small office segment. The name has resonated with the youth so well, the only other name which peraphs equals is 'Whatsapp' though WebEx and Skype (with due respect, which was there from ages) has taken a backseat here during the pandemic, and the name has a lot to contribute to it at least in India. Give the kids anythig else and they are sure to ditch it, because they love the name ZOOM! . IMO the company may not have wanted someone to squat on their brand using dot com , hence might have reserved it paying a hefty booty. Thanks for the excellent article.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020 at 5:34 PM
  9. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    Thanks for your note, @handpicked and I agree. The line you referenced was not meant about the name zoom (I agree great name for kids and others :xf.smile:) but rather the specific domain name zoom.com. Some on social media have said Zoom is doing so well because they own zoom.com. While the company is doing amazingly well, as far as I can see, it has not been directly because they own the .com. Sorry if the intention was not clear in my wording. And I totally agree they should have bought it, even at $2 million or more, for protective reasons as you note and for future/practical reasons as article notes. Thanks again for your comment.
    Bob
     
  10. Grilled

    Grilled sdrowkcab VIP

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    I wonder if the October 17, 2018 trademark application serial number: 88158815 had any effect on Zoom.us acquiring the Zoom.com domain name on or around December 12th, 2018; less than two months after the application was filed.

    Current status of serial number: 88158815

    upload_2020-5-21_12-29-31.png
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020 at 7:33 PM
  11. Samer

    Samer Restricted (Chatroom) Blue Account

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    Last edited: May 21, 2020 at 7:35 PM
  12. manpreet

    manpreet Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks for sharing all the info on Zoom.
     
  13. winst

    winst Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I would also say the Yuan was from China, and Zoom's development teams are mostly in China, they wanted to emphasize it was a U.S based company.
     
  14. Namesolve

    Namesolve Upgraded Member Blue Account

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    Your articles are worth reading. Thank you.
     
  15. ixex

    ixex Final Product Gold Account ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Bob thanks again for an in-depth informative article!
     
  16. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes formerly MetBob NameTalent VIP Gold Account Trusted Blogger

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    Thanks for the graph of recent stock price, @Keith DeBoer . Yes, I think a lot of us wish we had bought the stock in December, especially compared to how most stocks have performed in recent months!

    I agree. probably not chance timing, @Grilled. The article mentions the TM application. I think the timing reflects two things - if they waited much longer the name would probably have been "gone forever" and they did not want that to happen, but also they had for the first time become profitable, had a fantastic IPO and finally had the cash to spend on things not directly related to the engineering of the product. I am speculating, of course.

    Just want to stress, in case not clear, that the company was registered in the USA and originally developed by a team, as I understand it, that was largely from the USA and done in California. Over 40 of their engineers had worked at Cisco. So I don't think it is quite accurate to say "Zoom's development teams are mostly in China" @winst. Sorry if my article, left that impression. Zoom do now have a significant engineering arm now in China, and that should help as they try to move more strongly into that market, and many others.

    One of the more interesting things I stumbled upon was that the name was inspired by a book one of the influential people read to his children. I think that shows us how even great names can come from many diverse places, a good topic for some future blog article, perhaps.

    I was interested to see the huge number of companies that use zoom as their name or part of their name. That is probably one of the best indicators of the truly great names.

    The sale happened back in late 2018, but what are people's thoughts on the $2 million for zoom.com. For comparison, it was the second highest sale (on NameBio at least) that year. ICE went for $3 million and super for $1.2 million.

    I was inspired by the story of Zoom's success. About a thousand people (fewer at start, more now) worked hard for many years, in an environment where many thought that there was not room for a new entrant in video conferencing. After all they were in competition with Cisco, Microsoft and other big names. They believed in the importance of a well designed product. It has now paid off big time for all of those involved. Perhaps a message there for domain investors too.

    Thanks again for everyone's comments.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2020 at 11:52 PM
  17. Grilled

    Grilled sdrowkcab VIP

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    I get that.

    I just wonder if domain brokerages "rebranding" or launching brokerage related services (such as acquisition services) on premium domains, will become the new it thing to do if you want to maximize the value of a generic one-word domain, and put pressure on a likely enduser to step up and make their best offer, before it becomes "gone forever".

    Citing the Phenom.com rebrand to subsequent domain sale that followed as an example. (though, I don't believe Phenom.com involved a TM application.) Nor do I think PhenomPeople.com was as easily publicly viewed as the likely enduser for Phenom.com as much as Zoom.us appeared to be the likely enduser for Zoom.com.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020 at 1:00 AM
  18. namealbum.com

    namealbum.com New Member

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    Nice Article. Thanks for sharing.
     
  19. xcloud123

    xcloud123 Established Member

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  20. Mytz.com

    Mytz.com Upgraded Member Blue Account

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    Thanks for sharing.
    The beginning of a good domain name,
    Half the success of a career!
     
  21. winst

    winst Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I'm not saying it was a Chinese company, but Yuan himself claim Chinese engineering teams gave Zoom a cost advantage compared to other tech companies in the US, and he had to dispel rumors about Zoom as a Chinese company with him as a front (he immigrated from China to US back in 2007). But China is not a country that anyone can open business there, he had to have some connections.

    I'm just explaining a possible motivation behind the ".us" domain name instead of .com.

    https://www.indiatoday.in/technolog...ny-is-american-not-chinese-1675109-2020-05-06

    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/26/zoom-key-profit-driver-ahead-of-ipo-engineers-in-china.html
     
  22. Asmaul Rakib

    Asmaul Rakib Established Member

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    Thanks for sharing the nice article...
     
  23. Rich

    Rich Top Contributor VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I see this becoming a trend also, they kill two birds with one stone - striking them with fear of missing out while protecting themselves from UDRP. Surprised Evergreen.com hasn't sold yet.
     
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