- Remotive.com is a bootstrapped Remote Work Community & Job board.
- We paid five-figures for it. Can't tell exactly due to legal, sorry!
- We purchased it cash via a broker, actual sales process took ≈3 months.
- It took us ≈6 years to go from "this would be cool" to owning it.
- Migrating took 48 hours.
2014: Remotive.io launched
I started Remotive as a newsletter on remote work.
Back in 2014, remotive.com was already registered so I picked remotive.io instead.
The dot com just sat there, unused. So I focused on growing the project instead.
We were #1 on ProductHunt a few times and had an interview on IndieHackers.
2014-2021: Remotive grew
In 2019, my cofounder Adrien joined the project along with Vic.
Then, COVID happened, which changed the game for us.
We helped more top-tier clients hire remotely: Shopify, Square, Stripe...
That prompted us to focus on branding, we had a complete makeover:
We love our visual identity and are now focusing on an overall UI/UX update.
2022: Buying Remotive.com
Why buy it? Are dot com domains really worth it?
TONS of companies do just fine with their own domains: Zoom.us, opensea.io...
Could a bootstrapped company be successful without a .com domain? Absolutely!
So why bother?
Here's what I SHOULD say: "This domain will bring us better branding and SEO", but that's only half the story.
- Branding: We're a double-sided marketplace. Job applicants may remember us better, which matters in our industry. Also, companies hiring remotely may "trust" us more due to the .com.
- SEO: Owning our .com TLD may lead to web-traffic uptick. It's not certain, but we're willing to try it and play the long game here.
- ...swag: Probably the real reason. We've been "Remotive dot io" for 7+ years. Being "Remotive" feels great, almost a rite of passage. Remember Social Network's clip, "drop the The, just Facebook, it's cleaner..."
Does spending so much on a domain make sense? We'll see. It's now an asset on our books - we'll have depreciation over the next 5 years. It helps us to build a company further untangling itself from my own personal brand.
How do you even negotiate for a dot com domain?
remotive.com sat unused for years, registered with GoDaddy.
After extensive research, I found no option to connect with the seller directly. I reached out on GoDaddy with full transparency, stating who were/our goal.
A GoDaddy employee acted as a "broker" to mediate the transaction, earning a fee paid by the seller.
In 2016, we were told we had to bid $10,000+ in order to start a conversation. We didn't have the money, so we tried again in 2018 and got the same answer.
...In January 2022, I finally placed the $10,000 bid.
The seller immediately countered with a SIGNIFICANTLY higher ask. It took us three months to settle on an amount that worked for everyone.
I can't tell you specifics due to legal, so I'll just comment on the progress:
I love how Eric Friedman thinks about buying domains: "It's like art. Two people can look at the same painting and disagree on its value" (I'm paraphrasing). Think of it as trading NFTs in a closed, fairly illiquid market.
Here were Remotive's arguments walking in:
- My SEO/legal airspace over the brand remotive has a deterrent effect on other buyers. I'm not talking about money here, I'm talking about time: No company will spend the years required to compete in brand-building (great DR/SEO) AND deal with legal headaches. Why? Because they can buy remotove.com for US$11.88 instead.
-This project is bootstrapped. I'm not spending VC money and I won't become a rich "unicorn".
➡️ Did my vibrant, open-heart argument work? Absolutely not.
The seller couldn't care less. They kept their head cool and focused on their upside, we focused on ours. Note that we had no direct contact with the seller, our friendly broker acted as a middle-men.
We all knew that the broker would take a commission out of the sellers' price IF the deal closed, so could say the broker faced conflicting obligations.
Then, we sent the agreed USD amount to GoDaddy after converting our EUR via a Wise transfer. At that point, I had triple-checked that "this wasn't a scam" and that our broker was legit.
After a week, the domain was made available within our account.
My co-founder/CTO had a very stressful time migrating our site over, a lot was at stake. For instance, not transferring our SEO properly would have been terrible.
What is worth it?
It's worth having! Was it worth having at the purchase price? I don't know.
We paid a lot and I'm glad to own it, feels like we reached a milestone as a company. Similar to what a "Funding announcement" may feel for a venture-backed company, I suppose. Which is great.
How did it feel?
- Stress: It was a stressful process for a number of reasons. It's a transaction with only one likely buyer and one seller. It means that if the relationship goes sour, it will be tricky to make any process. Another step is to wire the money.
- Taking things personally: I shouldn't have been emotionally involved. Yet I was. I wanted to close the deal and go forward. I did have a limit in mind and jammed with my cofounder to stay grounded.
- Investment/ego-trip: Is buying a dot com great for your company, or yet another flair you can brag about online? Probably both. It took me a while to accept that I couldn't rationalize this purchase. As Roaring Kitty said, "I like the stock".
- Resentment: Few people talk about this. I felt some resentment towards the seller. Why? In this "one seller/one buyer" situation, it felt like I was negotiating against myself. If I stopped the process, I could have been asked to pay twice the amount at a future date. If I rushed the process, I felt I was overpaying. It also felt that the only reason I'm paying so much was that we managed to build a cool brand. What's THEIR added value? What's domain squatting and what's brilliant investing? It took me weeks to make peace with that, I'm now OK with it. But I wasn't for a while.
- Relief: Buying this piece of online real estate is the single-largest cash expenditure we could make as a company. It's now done, which feels like a relief. I feel good about how things went!