It’s very rare that a brand new startup with minimal funds would initially create their online presence on a premium .COM domain. Bootstrapped businesses may, therefore, opt to go with an alternative extension, create a brandable name or use a subsequent imperative word such as “Get” or “Buy”. One of the most active funds for startup capital is YCombinator. Founded in 2005, YCombinator acts as a seed accelerator, offering early-stage investment to around 1,900 companies including AirBnB, DropBox and Reddit. Twice a year, summer and winter, YCombinator releases a list of companies it has invested in during that season’s batch. These lists can be a good indication to naming trends and domain name preferences amongst the startup community. Below, we’ll aim to find out what type of domain preferences YCombinator startups have in 2018. We have a dataset of 234 domain names, gathering data from YCombinator’s list of both S2018 and W2018. The list of companies is publicly available on YCombinator’s website. Domain Extensions In a 2016 Domain Data article, we analyzed the list of every single company that YCombinator had invested in from 2005 to 2016, which totaled over one thousand names. In that article, we calculated that 86.45% of domains were .COM. In YCombinator’s class of 2018, that figure has dropped to 66.23% with many more companies seemingly happy to go with other domain extensions instead. We have a number of startups opting to use New gTLD alternatives such as mojo.video, emojer.app, and buycoins.africa. Both .CO and .IO remain popular with startups, with a combined 17% of this year’s YCombinator startups using them. Some of these names are one-word domains that would cost at least five- or six-figures to acquire as a .COM, but as .CO or .IO, they were likely relatively cheap to acquire. Some examples include Torch.io, Atrium.co, and Ben.co. Several years ago, there was a trend amongst startups to create their online presence on a .LY or a .ME domain. These aren’t prominent extensions at all now, with one .LY and three .ME domanis being used by the class of 2018. The Domains With .COM established as still being the most popular extension, it’s interesting to see what type of .COM domains are being used by these startups. There are 16 companies using .COM domains that would be considered to be one word - either dictionary .COM’s or a “brandable” word. Usually, these brandable names match the company name such as Trusu.com, Delphia.com or Berbix.com. However, there are a couple of examples of premium .COM names being used. Artificial Intelligence company Molly smartly acquired the Molly.com domain name and cargo company Shone has Shone.com. The large majority of these .COM domains consist of two words. Some of these two-word names are exact-match domains to the company, for example, Sharpest Minds owns SharpestMinds.com. However, many startups have opted to use an imperative verb (Try or Get, for example) along with their brand name. Here are some examples: GetOxygen.com GetShogun.com GetStation.com OnGrin.com OnHexel.com SoBump.com There are six companies using “Get” as a prefix, three using “On” and one using “So”. Length In our 2016 article, the average length for 1,100 YCombinator company domains was 8.56 characters with several business using three-letter .COM’s. In our current data set, just two companies are using three-letter domains (not .COM): Ben.co and GFI.org. The shortest .COM is JITX.com. The average length of a domain in this data set is 9.05, slightly longer than our 2016 data. The longest domain used is twenty characters: DataDrivenBioscience.com. This is the exact match domain name for that company. As we established above, the most frequent non-.COM individual extensions in our list are .IO, .CO and .AI. Traditionally, these extensions may have been used as direct alternatives to shorter .COM domain names that are unattainable. Therefore, in theory, the .IO, .CO and .AI domains in our list should be shorter than .COM’s average length of 9.05 characters. The average character length for .IO is 7.3, .CO is 8.5 and .AI is 5.8. This data would support our theory. Aftermarket Domains How many of the domains used by YCombinator’s class of 2018 were acquired on the aftermarket? As it turns out, NameBio has listed just three sales of domain names from our list. The first is JITX.com, used by JITX, a circuit board design company founded in 2016. The company looks to have paid $5,988 for the name in 2016, around the time they launched. DomainIQ’s WHOIS history shows the domain was briefly in the possession of Jonathan Bachrach, JITX’s co-founder before it went under privacy protection. The second name is OnUniverse.com, acquired by website builder Universe. This name was acquired in June 2015 from BuyDomains for $2,188, a year after the company was founded. Since March 2017, the company has raised $7.3 million in funding but has opted to keep the same domain. Our third and final domain from the aftermarket is Torch.io, purchased on the Park.io platform for $550. It’s unclear as to whether Torch.io was purchased by an investor and subsequently sold to the company that’s using it now, Torch Labs. The only data available shows the domain was purchased in February 2017 on Park.io for $550. According to a LinkedIn page, Torch Labs was founded in September 2017.