Who’s Your GoDaddy? (Company Domain Name Ownership)
By Kevin Vela
Because of the nature of startups, most early steps are taken before a company is officially organized with the state. This includes registering the domain name.
As a result, there is a good chance that one of the founders registered the domain name in an individual capacity. Or the development/design firm. Neither of these scenarios is good.
Ask yourself this – whose name is on file with Go Daddy or your domain name registrant? Is that person around? Cooperative? Easily accessible?
Unfortunately, I see this issue pop up in founder disputes all the time.
Inability to access your startup domain can shut down a startup. And all too often, I see disputing founders/partners hold the domain login info hostage, especially when it is individually registered. And good luck calling Go Daddy and convincing them that you, as the President of WidgetCo LLC, have the right to make changes to WidgetCo.com even though it was registered to Disgruntled Co-Founder. Go Daddy can’t run their business that way, and neither should you.
Thus, here is what you need to do if an individual registered the domain name.
- Assign the rights to the Company. Have the Company pay the individual the cost of the registration. It’s usually a pretty nominal amount.
- Use a company email address as the login for the domain registrant, and the hosting company. Share the login and password with at least two founders/members/key shareholders. This can help to prevent lockouts if a founder relationship sours.
Solving this issue is actually pretty easy. You don’t need an attorney for it. Just some transparency and cooperation.