Google Domains has been a quick and easy place to buy a dot com (or dot net, or dot studio, even) for your cottage bakery — but the company is now giving up on the registrar business and selling the assets to Squarespace. The deal includes handing off 10 million domains owned by Google customers to the popular website builder.
In a press statement, Google’s VP and GM of merchant shopping, Matt Madrigal, says the sale is an effort to “sharpen our focus” and that the company plans on “supporting a smooth transition” for its customers being handed off to Squarespace. Madrigal then assures customers that Squarespace, which already has its own domain management plus web building tools, would be the perfect home for customers’ websites. Google Domains first became available as a beta in 2014 and finally came out of beta just last year.
The “definitive agreement” between Google and Squarespace includes assurances that customers will get the same renewal prices available to them for the next 12 months. Plus, Squarespace agrees to provide “incentives” for customers to build their website with the company’s platform.
For some users, especially those who only hold their domain at Google for convenience’s sake (and point it to their hosted website elsewhere), Squarespace may not be adding any value. And as it stands: Squarespace’s domain purchasing process, by design, assumes you’re also building a website from scratch on the company’s platform.
Additionally, customers planning to subscribe to Google’s Workspace enterprise platform and who want to easily buy a domain within that process, too, will now be registering it through Squarespace by default. But if the customer would like to buy the domain elsewhere, they can do that and then link it back to Workspace later.
The deal makes Squarespace the exclusive domain provider for Workspace customers buying domains directly through Google, at least for the next three years. For those who already subscribe to Workspace, and have purchased domains through Google, Squarespace will also be taking over those customers’ domain billing and support services.
Google’s head of Workspace external communications Katie Wattie sent an email to The Verge sharing that customers have some flexibility with domains:
Customers can purchase a domain name anywhere, and bring that domain name to Workspace as they always have. We will also continue to support our robust ecosystem of Workspace resellers, many of which provide domain registration services alongside a Workspace purchase.
The deal between Google and Squarespace is slated to close in the third quarter of 2023, pending regulatory hurdles and being able to meet closing conditions. Whether customers will need to take any actions is not yet known, but the actual transfer won’t be fully realized until “2024 and beyond.” According to Bloomberg, the deal is worth $180 million.
Google Domains is yet another service the company is sending to the graveyard, at least internally. The company recently shut down Currents, which was a Google Plus offshoot for enterprise. And Google’s cloud gaming platform, Stadia, was also a recent loss.
Update June 16th, 2023 3:11PM ET: Added clarity that Squarespace will take over Workspace users’ domain billing and support only if the domain was purchased through Google Workspace. Also added response from Google about how domains for Workspace users can still be purchased elsewhere.