Premium Domain Names for Sale at
Squarespace’s debut on New York Stock Exchange in 2021
Squarespace, a website-building and hosting company, has announced it plans to buy Google’s domain-name business for $180 million.
The firm’s CEO, Anthony Casalena, made the announcement after market close on Thursday. He called the acquisition a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. The acquisition will guarantee Squarespace access to 10 million website owners to whom it can upsell website-building products, more than tripling its current base of subscribers.
Unlike typical marketing efforts, those website owners will also become paying customers of Squarespace, since the company charges customers $20 per year to own a basic domain. (Squarespace will honor Google Domains customers’ current renewal prices for at least a year after the transaction closes.)
“The domain business does not have margins as high as the website business, but it’s not a loss leader,” Casalena said.
Website hosting is more lucrative. A personal plan where Squarespace enables users to build and host a website costs $16 per month; an advanced commerce plan that includes e-commerce tools runs $49 per month. The company had $237 million in revenue in the first quarter of this year.
Hudson Square-based Squarespace plans to use a combination of cash on hand and an expansion of its credit facility to pay for the deal, Casalena said. Squarespace had cash and cash equivalents of $239.3 million and $17.7 million of available borrowing capacity as of March 31, 2023. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. Squarespace will also become the exclusive provider of domains for anyone signing up for Google Workspace for the first time, Casalena said. 
Google said it was selling off the business “in keeping with our efforts to sharpen our focus,” according to a statement from Matt Madrigal, vice president and general manager of Merchant Shopping at Google.
Squarespace counted nearly 4.3 million unique subscriptions at the end of March. That term includes users who build and host numerous websites with Squarespace, down to individuals who host a single domain. It sells top-level domains with endings from .com and .org to .restaurant and .land; more exotic domains can be bought from a third-party and transferred.  Last year, Squarespace spent $322 million on sales and marketing. That was down slightly from the year before, according to its 2022 annual report, but still nearly twice as much as the domains deal.
Investors drove the stock to its highest point this year on Friday morning. Shares of Squarespace were trading at about $33 per share, compared to around $30 in recent weeks. The company went public at $49 per share in May of 2021 but shares had been trading as low as $20 in 2022.
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