From Matador to Public.com and a $1.2 billion valuation

From Matador to Public.com and a $1.2 billion valuation

This company built credibility with a great domain name.

Screenshot of Public.com app listing in Apple app storeIn 1952, just 4.2% of Americans were company shareholders. By 1990, that figure had risen to 21.1%, and by 2020, 55% of the population had invested money in the stock market.

As time and technology move on, stock trading becomes more accessible to more of the population. Many entrepreneurs have noticed this and have created products that capitalize on this popularity and accessibility. Companies such as Robinhood have been runaway successes with its “Investing for Everyone” tagline and an app that offers on-the-go access to stocks and funds.

A Robinhood rival that caught my eye this week is Public.com, an app that combines social networking with public stock investing. It announced an undisclosed Secondary Market investment recently.

Founded in 2018, Public.com started life as Matador, offering a social trading app, an earlier edition of the Public.com app currently available.

Matador, operating on MatadorApp.com, attracted early funding, including a $2 million Seed round and a $6.5 million Series A round. However, it seems that Matador wasn’t content with its name. In August 2019, the company performed a major rebrand that included an ultra-premium domain acquisition.

Matador became Public.com and naturally started to use the Public.com domain name instead of MatadorApp.com.

The Public.com domain was acquired from Anything.com Ltd., an investment company that owns a stunning set of premium domains, including VR.com, Design.com, and Borrow.com. Anything.com Ltd. has also sold its fair share of names, including Teams.com, Home.com, and Marketing.com.

It’s unclear whether Matador purchased Public.com outright or whether this was a lease-to-own acquisition. Representatives of Anything.com did not confirm details of the purchase at the time of publishing. However, WHOIS history suggests that this may have been acquired using a purchase plan; between August 2019 and mid-2021, the registrant of Public.com is listed as the “Attorney Trust Account” of Ari Goldberger of ESQWire.

Post rebrand, Public.com successfully unlocks access to the stock market by offering fractional share ownership for a more inclusive trading experience.

Public.com’s concept has been a hit with customers. A Medium post details Public.com’s journey to attracting more than 1 million members within 18 months. This growth hasn’t gone unnoticed in the venture capital world, with Public.com attracting $308.5 million in funding to date, including a $220 million Series D round in February 2021. This moved Public.com into unicorn territory, with the round moving the company’s valuation up to $1.2 billion.

Among Public.com’s investors are actor Will Smith and legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk.

Despite Public.com’s business revolving predominantly around its app, it invested a significant sum of money in the Public.com domain name. Why?

There are dozens of reasons why a premium domain name makes sense for a financial services company, but I think trust may be one of the biggest.

Public.com’s product is not built for an experienced financial trader or tech-savvy investors. It is being pitched to the general public as an introduction to the stock market. Trusting a company to take your money and, in exchange, allow you to easily buy company shares is something that many people will be hesitant to do. Especially a relatively new company that seemingly only exists in the form of an app.

Owning Public.com allows the company to present as a highly professional, trusted business that exudes longevity. You don’t get the same effect if you’re asking a mass market to trust MatadorApp.com with your portfolio of stocks.

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