8 Successful Companies That Changed Domain Names

Rebranding, re-launching, item uncertainty, vagueness: factors that contribute to the decision to rename a website. More often than not, creators shell out big money to purchase already existing domain names not only to simplify traffic flow (just ask Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg), but to make sure they go with absolutely with the item..

Here are a few brands that have not only survived the switch but have thrived ever since.

1. Ask.com
Founded in June 1996 by David Warthen and Garrett Gruener, “AskJeeves.com” was the first search engine capable of responding to questions, not just keywords. Its well-known mascot Jeeves, a cartoon butler, was based off an English valet in author P.G. Wodehouse’s novels. In a 2006 re-launch, the company decided to “retire” Jeeves and rename the site “Ask.com,” in an effort to create a more focused search experience.

2. Facebook
Originally dubbing his new site “thefacebook.com” in February 2004, creator Mark Zuckerburg based the name off a physical face book, a Harvard publication that features students’ names and photos to help them get acquainted. In an August 2005 site redesign, the team decided to simplify by dropping “the” from the name. This prompted the purchase of an already existing domain, “facebook.com,” for a reported $200,000.

3. Perez Hilton

Celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton registered his original domain, “PageSixSixSix.com,” in 2004. But it didn’t take long for the New York Post’s Page Six gossip channel to sue him for trademark infringement and unfair competition. As one of the leading gossip blogs, he switched to “PerezHilton.com,” a play on socialite Paris Hilton. PageSixSixSix.com now redirects to the New York Post.

4. NBCnews.com
Branding confusion, advertising dollars and the end of a relationship between Microsoft and NBC in July 2012 prompted the change from “MSNBC.com” to “NBCNews.com,” overnight. For now, MSNBC.com redirects users to the NBCNews.com page, but some time this year MSNBC.com will become autonomous, representing the cable channel and its shows.

5. PayPal
The online payment service X.com began as a merger between Confinity, a company with a goal to enable money transfers, and X.com, a company that helped solve the commerce-related challenges faced by businesses in the late ’90s. Taking the X.com name, X being a universally recognizable symbol of a programming variable for developers, it was later during company restructuring that it was renamed after a product Confinity had created — PayPal — after surveys found X.com vague and potentially pornographic.

6. Google
Stanford students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, originally built Google on the Stanford website, with the domain “google.stanford.edu.” Later they registered “google.com” in September 1997 and officially launched a year later.

7. Twitter
The name “Twttr.com” was inspired by SMS shortcode (which always includes five characters). A few months later in 2006, after the site took off, the co-founders shelled out $7,500 to add vowels back into the name and purchased twitter.com from an existing “bird enthusiast” website. However, twttr.com still redirects to the main site.

8. Overstock
Overstock has seen its share of flip-flopping throughout the years. Founded in 1999, the company rebranded to “O.co” to simplify and shorten its name. Customer confusion on the .co domain prompted a retraction, and the company has now reverted back to the original. However, O.co still redirects to the site.

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