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Inside Interview: Behind the Acquisition of TN.Com With Tuft & Needle

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By James Iles, Nov 10, 2015
  1. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Business Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    What is it like to buy a two-letter .COM domain name? For years, this category of domains has been seen as one of the rarest, most exclusive types of domains available. With just 676 two-letter .COM names in existence, they can be difficult to buy.

    With China's recent spending-spree on high-value domains, it could be considered even more difficult for a company to get their virtual hands on a two-letter .COM. However, this is just what Tuft & Needle did when they bought TN.com this year.

    Tuft & Needle is a mattress company founded by John-Thomas Marino (JT) and Daehee Park with the aim of revolutionizing the mattress industry, with decisions and product development driven by data and fact-based decision making, which can be traced back to the two co-founder's background in software development.

    With JT's hectic schedule, we had to conduct this interview via Skype, so the answers below are paraphrased somewhat, but all information has come from the Tuft & Needle Co-Founder himself. I want to thank @Edward Zeiden and the Tuft & Needle PR Department in particular for helping to make this interview happen.

    unnamed.jpg
    Tuft & Needle's Co-Founders: John-Thomas Marino (Left) and Daehee Park (Right)

    NP: Can you give us a brief description of Tuft & Needle?

    TN: The company was founded in 2012 when co-founder JT Marino had a frustrating experience trying to buy a mattress at a traditional retailer and recognized the need for a better product and an improved experience. The whole purchasing process seemed counterintuitive to JT. From the difficulty in initially searching for a mattress online to the overall quality of the product and the exorbitant pricing due to unfair markups.

    JT and his fellow co-founder Daehee Park set out to solve these problems by creating Tuft & Needle (T&N); a company that would create the mattress and ship it directly to the customer. Today, T&N not only offers a universally more comfortable mattress, but the brand is fiercely focused on continuing to improve the customer’s entire experience by making it as quick and easy as possible to buy a mattress whilst keeping the product price stable.

    By cutting out the middle man, Tuft & Needle are able to keep their prices much lower than their competitors whilst maintaining the quality that's taken them to the highest rated mattress on Amazon.


    NP: You launched online in 2012 using the domain name TuftandNeedle.com. Were there ever any considerations of launching on a shorter domain (such as TN.com) initially, or was it always your intention to use TuftandNeedle.com?

    TN: Although the entire team loves the company name itself, Tuft & Needle recognized that a simplified domain name could lead to an even better user experience. Their main concern is the length of TuftandNeedle.com along with its difficulty to type. At thirteen characters and consisting of three words, their concerns were well founded.

    In the search for something shorter to pair the domain with, for Tuft & Needle, there is no better or more memorable domain name to use than TN.com.


    NP: Who had the original idea to acquire TN.com?

    TN: The internal team at Tuft & Needle is a tight-knit group of folks who are passionate about the brand, so it’s no surprise that when the marketing and branding team had the idea to use TN.com, it was very much a group decision and well-received by everyone.

    The team wanted the option to use a shorter, more memorable domain name that could be easily typed. TN.com very much fits the bill. It's also an excellent advantage over some of the competitors and shows that Tuft & Needle is really leading the online revolution in the mattress industry.


    NP: Why, ultimately did you decide to acquire TN.com?

    TN: The team at Tuft & Needle loves the simplicity of TN.com. It's short and memorable, making it extremely easy to mention in a conversation and to memorize after seeing it just once.


    NP: Since acquiring the domain name, have you noticed an increase in traffic and sales that you can attribute to the domain itself?

    TN: It's difficult to answer this question, as the current metrics do not attribute sales or traffic back to the domain name. Since Tuft & Needle only began using the domain earlier this year, it is difficult to draw conclusions on the impact of TN.com, but the team is seeing meaningful data trends.

    It is interesting to note that Tuft and Needle noticed a substantial jump in mobile traffic as a result of using TN.com. The cause of this mobile traffic is unknown.


    NP: I notice that TN.com currently redirects to TuftandNeedle.com. Do you plan on rebranding your online presence to TN.com in the future?

    TN: This is a heavily debated topic at Tuft & Needle. The entire team sees the value in using the TN.com domain, but are very much split about whether to undergo a rebranding process.

    Whilst TN.com is easy to type in and memorize, it may be difficult to remember what the initials actually stand for - Tuft & Needle.

    As with everything at Tuft & Needle, the goal is to do what is best for customers. Between the data collected and current market share, the team is opting to stay as Tuft and Needle for the time being.

    If TN.com proves to be a superior choice in the future, then a move will be considered. TN would only make a change if compelling data proved that the switch would further simplify the customer’s experience.

    --

    Thanks to JT for taking the time to be a part of our Inside Interviews series. It's extremely rare to get such an insight into the decision making behind a purchase such as TN.com, and I find it interesting to see the fact that Tuft & Needle have experienced a significant increase in mobile traffic since acquiring the domain name.

    It's refreshing to see a company that puts customers at the heart of every decision that is made within the company, even down to the domain name they use.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.



    Inside Interviews is a blog series profiling the buyers of high-value domain names. Find out their motives, negotiation tactics, and their opinions on popular domaining topics only on the NamePros Blog.
     
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. James Iles

    About The Author — James Iles

    Writer for NamePros.com, domain name investor and broker. For all inquiries relating to stories and interviews, please email: [email protected]

    This is James Iles's 93rd blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

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  5. Comments (6)

  6. Willox Perez

    Willox Perez Member

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    Great interview and inside look at what makes a company or individual buy a specific type of domain and in this case the short TN.com. One nugget that I got was the importance of looking up the meaning of any LL.com LLL.com and even LLLL.com combinations. You never know when you can have a combination that stands for something has a lot of meaning to a company.

    - Will
     
  7. MediaOptions

    MediaOptions Member MediaOptions.com DomainSherpa PRO ICA Member VIP

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    Media Options advised Tuft & Needle on the acquisition of TN.com
     
  8. Keith

    Keith Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Hell of a domain.
     
  9. Ngozika Nwiro

    Ngozika Nwiro Established Member

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    Lovely.....something for domain pros to note
     
  10. Keith DeBoer

    Keith DeBoer BrandBucket Brand Ambassador PRO VIP

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    Great story! Thanks!
     
  11. James Iles

    James Iles NamePros Writer PRO Business Account VIP Trusted Blogger

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    Update: TN.com is currently being used by Tuft & Needle in a billboard advertising campaign. It's a perfect example of the effectiveness of a short, memorable domain being used to further promote the brand.

    The story is covered by DSAD.com
     
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