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interviews Inside Interview: Why Buying Pillows.com Was Worth Every Penny

Dynadot Dynadot
Fourteen years ago, Craig Clark and his wife Abby founded Pacific Pillows whilst Craig was on active duty in the Marine Corps. Using the PacificPillows.com domain name, the company flourished but by 2010, the company was looking to change their brand. Craig settled on Pillows.com and ultimately created a deal allowing him to purchase Pillows.com and the singular Pillow.com at the same time.

In this interview, Craig tells us about Pillows.com, why the company paid a six-figure fee to purchase both names and why it was a move that was worth every penny.


Tell us a little about yourself and the company behind Pillows.com

I am a father of 3, in the Marine Corps Reserve, Coach High School Track and Field, High School Cross Country and youth soccer. I am a licensed attorney, am Owner/General Counsel for Pillows.com, and in the Marine Corps am a Judge Advocate.

Pillows.com prides itself in carrying the largest selection of pillows found anywhere. We offer top notch customer care and are committed to getting our customers the perfect Pillow. Finding the perfect Pillow is difficult. A great Pillow may not work for a certain person. The right Pillow will be one that works for an individual’s body type and sleep style. We will work with our customers until they get that Pillow that delivers a comfortable night of sleep.


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Your company originally started on PacificPillows.com. When did you first look to rebrand to Pillows.com?
One of our best business partners and suppliers is Pacific Coast Feather Company (PCF). We were founded in 2004 as PacificPillows.com. As our e-commerce presence and that of PCF grew our brands begin to conflict/cause some confusion. Starting in late 2010 we began to work on a mutually satisfactory solution to change our brand. Eventually, we selected the domain name Pillows.com and began negotiating with the owner of Pillows.com to buy the domain.


How did you first go about finding out that Pillows.com was available to buy? Was it a case of contacting the owner, or was the domain offered to you?
We saw that it was owned by a domain investor. As I own a lot of domains I knew that they probably get all kind of random emails trying to buy premium domains below market value. So, I called them up and sent a detailed email to show them we were a legit end user and we ended up buying the domain names.


According to WHOIS history, you bought Pillows.com and Pillow.com. What was your reasoning for buying both domains? Did you have specific plans for both names?
The same owner owned both names. So we bought them as a package. We figured we might as well get both as together they made the brand stronger. Initially, Pillow.com was just a re-direct. But, it turns out from 2014-2017 not much traffic was funnelling from Pillows.com and what brand was extremely strong. However, in 2017 we entered into a domain lease where the Pillow.com name is leased out. That lease is convertible to an ownership where we get stock options. We’ll see in 4-5 years how that plays out.


Can you reveal how much you paid to acquire both domain names? How did you justify the amount you paid?
I am not allowed to reveal the amount. But for both, it was in the six-figure range. We justified this on the win/win for us and our supplier PCF. We also justified it on the cocktail party test. If I tell you I own PacificPillows.com at a cocktail party you’re probably not going to remember our brand. But if I tell you Pillows.com you will remember.


Did you use any tools (e.g., automated appraisals), services (e.g., manual appraisals, domain brokers), or data (e.g., sales data, search volumes, search results) to determine your best offer and/or the value of the domain?
No. We sought out their asking price and negotiated down. The price kind of was what it was. This particular seller is not well known for selling domain names often and to get them to sell you have to be willing to offer a serious amount.


We How long did it take for the deal itself to close?


Did you notice an immediate impact to your business (either positive or negative) by moving from PacificPillows.com to Pillows.com? For example, did your CTR on marketing campaigns improve? Conversion rates?
We dropped initially in SEO with the move. But once SEO was reestablished it has been great. We definitely have better conversions overall and the purchase price was worth every penny.


According to our research, you also own Sheet.com and a number of other one-word .COM domains. Would you consider yourself as a domain investor (e.g., plan to sell them for a profit), or are these simply acquisitions for your company (e.g., brand protection or build them out)?
Investor. I pick up interesting names that have a reasonable price and hold them. I’m not likely to sell unless the offer is really good or the use is really unique.


What advice would you give to a company thinking about upgrading their domain name?
Brand is key. Having a one-word category killer name as our brand has been everything for us.

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Thanks to Craig for taking part in our Inside Interview series. If you would like to follow the story of Pillows.com further, you can visit their Facebook and Twitter profiles.

These responses have been edited for 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.
 
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james haw

Top Contributor
Impact
1,564
Thanks James, and to Craig for sharing. Without that geo keyword, they're essentially now "the" pillows site :)
Great investment and business move.
 

maxtra

Let's make a dealTop Contributor
Impact
2,864
Great read and case study for any company or startup on the value of a good domain to establish a memorable presence online. Thanks!
 
Great read and case study for any company or startup on the value of a good domain to establish a memorable presence online. Thanks!

We’ve published around 30 interviews now. All excellent case studies for domainers to refer potential buyers to!
 

Hui Siew Choong

Established Member
Impact
702
Well said. It surely worth every penny for branding a generic names. I not only keen on generic branding in english but also in many other well spoken languages like Chinese and Indonesia ( incidentally with the huge Indonesian population , Indonesian will be the top 5 economic power by year 2030) . I owned Tilam.com which means pillow in Indonesian and Malaysian . Hope one day I will find a good JV as well
 

elevator

DNCombo.comTop Contributor
Impact
1,324
Nice interview @James Iles. I also appreciate Craig for sharing. I have learnt few ideas in the interview. Thanks once again.