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The suffix .com in a URL usually (but not always) refers to a commercial or for-profit entity, as opposed to a non-commercial entity or non-profit organization, which usually use .org. Since the .com companies are web-based, often their products or services are delivered via web-based mechanisms, even when physical products are involved. On the other hand, some .com companies do not offer any physical products.
While the term can refer to present-day companies, it is also used about companies with this business model that came into being during the late 1990s with the rapid growth of the World Wide Web. Many such startups were formed to take advantage of the surplus of venture capital funding and were launched with thin business plans, sometimes with just an idea and a catchy name. The stated goal was often to "get big fast", i.e. to capture a majority share of whatever market was being entered. The exit strategy usually included an IPO and a large payoff for the founders. Others were existing companies that re-styled themselves as Internet companies, many of them legally changing their names to incorporate a .com suffix.
The stock market crash around 2000 that ended the dot-com bubble resulted in many failed and failing dot-com companies, which were referred to punningly as dot-bombs,dot-cons or dot-gones. Many of the surviving firms dropped the .com suffix from their names.
Blucora (then InfoSpace): Founded by Naveen Jain, at its peak its market cap was $31 billion and was the largest Internet business in the American Northwest. In March 2000, its stock reached a price $1,305 per share, but by 2002 the price had declined to $2 a share.
Blue Coat Systems (formerly CacheFlow): Its stock price rose over 400% on its first day of trading in November 1999.
Boo.com: An online clothing retailer, it spent $188 million in just six months. It filed for bankruptcy in May 2000.
Books-A-Million: A book retailer whose stock price soared from around $3 per share on November 25, 1998, to $38.94 on November 27, 1998, and an intra-day high of $47.00 on November 30, 1998 after it announced an updated website. Two weeks later, the share price was back down to $10. By 2000, the share price had returned to $3.
Broadband Sports: A network of sports-content websites that raised over $60 million before going bust in February 2001.
CDNow: Founded by Jason Olim and his brother, it was an online retailer of compact discs and music-related products that reached a valuation of over $1 billion in April 1998. In 2000, it was acquired by Bertelsmann Music Group for $117 million and was later shut down.
Chemdex.com: A company founded by David Perry that operated an online marketplace for businesses, it reached a market capitalization of over $7 billion despite minimal revenues.
Covad: Shares rose fivefold within months of its IPO.
Cyberian Outpost: One of the first successful online shopping websites, it reached a peak market capitalization of $1 billion. It used controversial marketing campaigns including a Super Bowl ad in which fake gerbils were shot out of a cannon. It was acquired by Fry's Electronics in 2001 for $21 million, including the assumption of $13 million in debt.
CyberRebate: Promised customers a 100% rebate after purchasing products priced at as much as 10 times the retail cost. It went bankrupt in 2001 and stopped paying rebates.
Divine: Founded by Andrew Filipowski, it was modeled after CMGI. It went public as the bubble burst and filed for bankruptcy after executives were accused of looting a subsidiary.
DoubleClick: An online advertising company that soared after its IPO, it was acquired by Google in 2007.
eGain: Its stock price doubled shortly after its 1999 IPO.
Egghead Software: An online software retailer, its shares surged in 1998 as investors bought up shares of Internet companies; by 2001, the company was bankrupt.
eToys.com: An online toy retailer whose stock price hit a high of $84.35 per share in October 1999. In February 2001, it filed for bankruptcy with $247 million in debt. It was acquired by KB Toys, which later also filed for bankruptcy.
Forcepoint (formerly Websense): It held an IPO at the peak of the bubble.
Freei: Filed for bankruptcy in October 2000, soon after canceling its IPO. At the time, it was the 5th largest Internet service provider in the United States, with 3.2 million users. Famous for its mascot, Baby Bob, the company lost $19 million in 1999 on revenues of less than $1 million.
Gadzoox: A storage area network company, its shares tripled on its first day of trading giving it a market capitalization of $1.97 billion; the company was sold 4 years later for $5.3 million.
Geeknet (formerly VA Linux): A provider of built-to-order Intelpersonal computer systems based on Linux and other open source projects, it set the record for largest first-day price gain upon its IPO on December 9, 1999; after the stock priced at $30/share, it ended the first day of trading at $239.25/share, a 698% gain, making founder Larry Augustin a billionaire on paper.
Global Crossing: A telecommunications company founded in 1997; it reached a market capitalization of $47 billion in February 2000 before filing bankruptcy in January 2002.
theGlobe.com: A social networking service that launched in April 1995 and made headlines when its November 1998 IPO resulted in the largest first day gain of any IPO to date. CEO Stephan Paternot became a visible symbol of the excesses of dot-com millionaires and is famous for saying "Got the girl. Got the money. Now I'm ready to live a disgusting, frivolous life".
Internet America: Its stock price doubled in a day in December 1999 despite no specific news about the company.
iVillage: On its first day of trading in March 1999, its stock rose 255% to $84 per share. It was acquired by NBC for $8.50 per share in 2006 and shut down.
iWon: Backed by CBS, it gave away $1 million to a lucky contestant each month and $10 million in April 2000 on a half-hour special program that was broadcast on CBS.
Kozmo.com: Founded by Joseph Park, it offered one-hour local delivery of several items with no delivery fees from March 1998 until it went bust in April 2001.
Lastminute.com: Founded by Martha Lane Fox and Brent Hoberman, its IPO in the United Kingdom on March 14, 2000, coincided with the bursting of the bubble. Shares placed initially at 380p sharply rose to 511p, but had collapsed to below 190p by the first week of April 2000.
MicroStrategy: After rising from $7 to as high as $333 in a year, its shares lost $140, or 62%, on March 20, 2000, following the announcement of a financial restatement for the previous two years by founder Michael J. Saylor.
NorthPoint Communications: Agreed to a significant investment by Verizon and a merger of DSL businesses in September 2000; however, Verizon backed out 2 months later after NorthPoint was forced to restate its financial statements, including a 20% reduction in revenue, after its customers failed to pay as the bubble burst. NorthPoint then filed for bankruptcy. After lawsuits from both parties, Verizon and NorthPoint settled out of court.
Palm, Inc.: Spun off from 3Com at the peak of the bubble, its shares plunged as the bubble burst.
Razorfish: An Internet advertising consultancy, its stock doubled on its first day of trading in April 1999.
Redback Networks: A telecommunications equipment company, its stock soared 266% in its first day of trading, giving it a market capitalization of $1.77 billion.
Register.com: A domain name registrar, its stock soared after its IPO in March 2000, at the peak of the bubble.
Ritmoteca.com: One of the first online music stores selling music on a pay-per-download basis and an early predecessor to the iTunes business model. It pioneered digital distribution deals as one of the first companies to sign agreements with major music publishers.
Steel Connect (formerly CMGI Inc.): a company that invested in many Internet startups; between 1995 and 1999, its stock appreciated 4,921%, but declined 99% when the bubble burst.
Terra Networks: A web portal and Internet access provider in the US, Spain and Ibero-America. After its November 1999 IPO, its shares skyrocketed from an initial price of EUR11 to EUR158 in just three months. The price then sunk under EUR3 in a matter of weeks. In February 2005, the company was acquired by Telefónica.
Think Tools: One of the most extreme symptoms of the bubble in Europe, this company reached a market valuation of CHF2.5 billion in March 2000 despite no prospects of having a product.
TIBCO Software: Its stock price rose tenfold shortly after its 1999 IPO.
Transmeta: A semiconductor designer that attempted to challenge Intel, its IPO in November 2000 was the last successful technology IPO until the IPO of Google in 2004. The company shut down in 2009 after failing to execute.
uBid: An online auction site founded in 1997 as a subsidiary of PCM, Inc. that went public in December 1998 at $15 per share before its stock price soared to $186 per share, a market value of $1.5 billion.
WebChat Broadcasting System: the largest and most popular online chat, interactive and event network with around 3 million registered users, it was purchased by Infoseek in April 1998 for approximately $6.7 million; Go.com acquired Infoseek later in 1998, and closed WebChat in September 1999.
Webvan: An online grocer that promised delivery within 30 minutes; it went bankrupt in 2001 after $396 million of venture capital funding and an IPO that raised $375 million and was folded into Amazon.com.