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Why spending $1.5 million on acquiring the domain Sumo.com was not a great idea

A web traffic solutions company acquired the domain Sumo.com for $1.5 million dollars, rebranding from SumoMe.com.

Following on the heels of Snapchat becoming Snap via the acquisition of Snap.com, the company’s choice of a domain was the result of several months of hard work:

“We hired multiple private domain sleuths to help us acquire the domain (#failed); we bought SumoS.com to help make us feel better (it didn’t); people sent fake emails on our behalf to see if the owners would sell (they didn’t). “

But was it a great idea to spend $1.5 million dollars on an ultra generic, dictionary word domain, other than to claim the alleged prestige it carries?

There are several issues with this train of thought, and in our opinion, switching over to Sumo.com was not a great idea after all.

Here are some issues behind this domain rebranding decision:

  • Sumo is a form of Japanese wrestling, and the word is far too generic to be associated solely with the secondary meaning the Sumo.com company uses.
  • There are several existing trademarks for “Sumo” each with their distinct purpose.
  • Even with acquiring a stronger secondary meaning, “sumo” still means Japanese wrestling to the consumer.
  • Ranking high in Google, at the first page or top spot even, is very hard from an SEO perspective, due to the generic qualities of the word.

Sumo – Big in Japan.

While the bragging rights of owning a short, dictionary .com domain are understandable, spending a much lesser amount could have avoided these issues, perhaps by focusing on the following type of domain acquisition: Getting a domain that defines, describes and delivers the company’s functions, in order to overcome the generic nature of their core brand.

For example, Sumo.Solutions is catchy and available. SumoSolutions.com even, looks barely used. SumoTraffic.com would have cost much less. SumoSlap.com could be a great choice of a brand that would rank high in the search engines.

Any of these domains would rank high in Google, unlike the potential of Sumo.com. The latter, will now require some lengthy, aggressive SEO tactics, and that means spending additional time and money on top of the domain’s cost.

Sumo.com is a nice name, and it would be perfect for a sumo wrestling association, or a brand closely related to the sport itself. The real issue here is not the amount paid, it’s the lack of relevance of the word to the brand, without tagging a secondary identifier to it.

As a corporate brand for web traffic solutions, the domain Sumo.com falls short, in our opinion, and does not deliver the heavy-weight effect the company seeks for its own brand of products and services.

But it definitely looks great on business cards!

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10 Responses to “Why spending $1.5 million on acquiring the domain Sumo.com was not a great idea”
  1. Jonathan says:

    “A web traffic solutions” = cognitive term ? Would you choose this company 4 lead generation?

  2. DomainGang says:

    Jonathan – The subject of this article is whether the acquisition of Sumo.com is truly benefiting the brand. They create tools to increase web traffic.

  3. I tend to agree with your perspective. I too think the domain is too generic considering the it will be their brand. I like the alternate suggestions you mentioned as well.

    I will say that your categorization of “Bragging Rights” is very intuitive. There is a certain pride that goes along with getting something you want.

    I would only suggest that for that amount of investment, a 3 letter .com, perhaps, would have been a better company investment.

    Who knows, maybe they see the 1.5 as an actual bargain compared to the 10 million the seller originally wanted.

  4. DomainGang says:

    David – This is the issue with ultra-generic domains, when they are used for a secondary meaning. It takes years to become familiar names, associated with products unrelated to what the keyword suggests e.g. Apple.

    The domain is great, and perhaps it’s even worth the $1.5 million price tag. A 3 letter .com would not help resolve the issues outlined here, which involve association of the domain/keyword with a certain type of service that is unrelated to sumo wrestling.

  5. Rob says:

    Are you kidding? Ofcourse it was a good idea for them to get that domain. High price but now there will never be any confusion for their customers. And great @sumo.com email addresses. Amazon and Apple do well with their generic .com’s that are totally unrelated to their business. Price paid is all relative, in the business headlines is $1.5 million all that much anymore?

  6. FrumundaGeez says:

    I’m a spammer from the IP and tried to post some crap here. Spank my sorry ass with a Dutch clog!

  7. Keith DeBoer says:

    Right or wrong there seems to be a trend toward companies getting a short dictionary word, exact match domain, for a brand even when it doesn’t have much (or any) correlation to their core product or service. Some names I can think of are: Igloo (domain advisors), BlueJeans (web conferencing), Gusto (HR services) and Noodle (education and learning).

  8. arjun29 says:

    I completely disagree. Apple is a fruit. That doesnot mean or prove the use of apple as brand was not worth it. Sumome is a very popular and as a user of sumome I am glad that they bought it. 1.5m for such a great name is a win-win for both parties.

  9. DomainGang says:

    arjun29 – Apple has been around for 40 years. Nobody heard of Sumo before they bought the .com. Step aside from your domainer boots to understand how brands mature.

  10. Ed says:

    Agreed that Sumo is spending time and money looking in the mirror. However…“Nobody heard of of Sumo before they bought the .com” — if they made more than $1.5M from the PR, that’s a profit. With a residual .com to boot.

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