Daniel Negari, CEO of .xyz, had a Q&A with me after I accepted to be a judge on The Challenge domain name registration contest.
What is this contest about? Is there a point to be made?
The contest challenges internet users to search for and register the best .COM or best .XYZ domain out there. The idea came to mind when .COM responded to my interview with L.A. Biz, saying that “there are plenty of great .COM domain names available,” and “seven out of 10 .COM domain availability checks are successful.”
I wanted to ask real internet users to see what they can find in 2015. For each domain, we asked the entrants to complete a short survey so we could assess the data and better understand the quality of available .COM and .XYZ domain names.
If you were eligible, what domains would you submit?
I would submit TheChallenge.xyz – a great brandable domain that I hand registered last month for this competition! I also grabbed TakeTheChallenge.xyz. I see thousands of .xyz domains get registered daily and it makes me happy to see desirable domains get registered by end users. There are plenty of one word .xyz and short LLLL.xyz domain names still available as well, which would make good registration targets.
Outside of The Challenge, what common .XYZ registrations trends are you seeing?
We’re seeing a lot of people registering their first and last names (Konstantinos.xyz, Negari.xyz). We are also noticing startups like Place.xyz and UMake.xyz register short and creative domain names. Many names are being used for online blogs and artist portfolios. Check out some of them here.
You are owner or part owner of several New gTLDs strings. (.xyz, .college, .rent, .car, .cars, .auto, .security, .protection, and .theatre.) What is your favorite and your least favorite?
My favorite is .xyz. This is the domain extension that I was meant to operate so internet users have the ability to register an affordable and flexible domain for every website, everywhere.
I can’t say that I have a least favorite string, but if I had to say which opportunity I find the smallest, it would be .theatre. However, there is a significant demand for this extension worldwide, including the UK, Australia, and the US. So I plan on making it a bigger extension than if it were to launch naturally with no marketing support.
How are .College and .rent are going?
.College is currently in a university exclusive period where .edu and .ac.uk registrants have priority access to .College domains – and we’re waiving all the first year fees during this time. As a registry, we’re doing this to make sure that the .College namespace is safe and reputable.
Hundreds of renowned institutions have secured their domains such as Harvard with HarvardX.College and HarvardBusinessSchool.College; Vanderbilt with Vanderbilt.College and Vandy.College; and the University of Southern California – my alma mater! – with USC.College and Trojans.College.
Has your school registered their .College domains? Make sure to notify them!
It is amazing to see the creativity coming so soon in the process. You can see real .College registrations at go.college/about and a glimpse into how these universities are planning on using them.
As for .rent, we just launched into our sunrise period earlier this week. .rent is exciting because it encompasses a huge multi-billion dollar industry and it is our first gTLD offering that is meant to help SMBs and individuals market their asset. It will also be interesting to see how the namespace evolves as the sharing economy grows and starts to put this extension to use.
Based on market research, we expect one of the most popular ways to utilize .rent domains is to list specific residentail and commercial properties on domains such as 123MainStreet.rent and ExecutiveCenter.rent
The website for this also just launched, which I hope you check out at www.register.rent.
Also, look for software offerings through registrar channels where you will be able to get a .rent domain and property management software solution all in one.
Where do you see .xyz 5 years from now?
I see .xyz continuing to grow as the largest new gTLD and see even a wider range of use cases appear. With nearly 1,000 domain ending options, I think a truly generic domain like .xyz will continue to get used in really innovative ways. Because .xyz doesn’t carry a specific meaning, internet users get really creative by building not only sites for their new apps and software, but also using them in other innovative ways, such as cool URL shorteners.
I’m also expecting .xyz to receive MIIT approval to become a nationally certified domain in China this year. Once this happens, the Chinese and surrounding regions will continue to grow as our largest market – and users will be actively building sites on their domains.
Within the next 30 years – most likely a lot sooner – I believe there will be more new gTLD domains than .com domains, transforming the status quo as we know it now.
Overall, how do you see the gTLD industry shaping up for the next year?
The entire industry is gaining a lot of exposure, which is great for gTLD awareness. Now that we have live sites that mainstream audiences are familiar with – like hooli.xyz from HBO’s hit TV show Silicon Valley – I think more and more internet users will consider and seek new gTLDs for their domains.
Heavily marketed websites like TheHungerGames.movie and BigMac.rocks are a huge win for the industry. As more and more people hear of new gTLDs, they will create their next project on them.
Awareness can only grow from here.
Seeing your New gTLD strings I see some winners but I also see some that have limited potential. What are your plans for .rent and .protection?
Winning is relative. All of my strings have a specific play in mind.
.rent will be one of the most innovative and compelling opportunities for real estate owners all over the world. There are tens of thousands of rental properties in every city, and people need a way to market them.
I have HUGE plans for .rent. I can’t share all the details right now, but we have plans to provide industry-specific SaaS to registrants. As the sharing economy grows, .rent will be front and center – believe me.
.protection and .security will be launching together as they both cover the bases for security-related individuals and businesses. As with all of my gTLDs, these two will also be an unrestricted domain so any user can register these domains.
The market for these domains is also huge. Think of the industries such as home protection, identity protection, fire protection, cyber protection, personal protection, and the list goes on. To put things into perspective, there are over 16,000 domains ending in protection.com and over 46,000 ending in security.com.
In my opinion, it makes much more sense for a company like Brinks to buy brinks.protection or brinkshome.protection than brinksprotection.com or brinkshomeprotection.com.
What about .theatre? Do you plan to go after .theater as well or maybe have some kind of deal with the .theater registry (Donuts)?
That’s a great question. As an American, I thought the standard spelling was “theater.” I realized that even within the US, school theatres, movie theatres, local playhouses – all the way to major venues – use the traditional “theatre” spelling. And, of course, “theatre” is just simply more commonplace across the world.
Look around your town, there are probably 3-5 theatre’s in your city, and most of them spell it TheatRE not TheatER. Even AMC is AMC Theatres.
Given that and the fact that the performing arts is one of humankind’s longest standing form of entertainment, I chose to bring to market .theatre for fans of the performing arts, production and ticketing companies, movie theatres, and students who have a passion for theatre.
I don’t see a need for us to have .theater as well. However, there may be a future opportunity to bundle both variations for the convenience of registrants.
Do you have any special plans for .car, .cars, .auto?
This is a joint venture with Uniregistry, which I’m very excited to market three gTLDs together with Frank Schilling and his team. .car, .cars, and .auto will heavily attract car dealers and manufacturers as a premium lead-generation solution, and in a few years, may be offered at a lower price point for enthusiasts.
Are you planning on buying any more New gTLDs strings including some of the “failed” ones?
I am an all-in type of guy. And I’m all-in with new gTLDs.
Overall, I am interested in acquiring and operating premium extensions that add value to the internet. If you look at the acquisitions completed to date, most of them have been done by us, and we have specifically targeted industry specific strings.
The same way there is a need for a catch-all, flexible gTLD like .xyz, there is also a demand for niche domain extensions to meet the needs of each unique individual or business.
There’s a difference between a failed TLD and a TLD that’s better as part of a portfolio of names; one that’s a niche and would thrive with the marketing support of a thriving TLD. A failed one, I think, is one that wouldn’t be appealing even with massive marketing efforts. Those I’m not interested in picking up.
Any operators considering selling their gTLDs, you know how to reach me.
And I left the hard question for the end: Will we ever learn the truth about the .XYZ/Network Solutions deal?
Let me first say that the promotion was a great success. It’s exciting that so many registrants got a chance to try out a .xyz name for free. Everything you or anyone has heard from me about that issue has been completely truthful.
I’ve never been able to go into any more detail because of NDAs that have been signed. Just as NDAs get signed as part of other major business deal, your readers that have signed one, get it.
I think when people have questions about something and they are not able to get the complete answer, they tend to assume that there’s something nefarious going on. That’s what happened with the the Network Solutions promotion. People wanted to know everything about what was going on, and I couldn’t fully answer their questions because of legal restrictions.
The more interesting part to me is that the promotion was really nothing special at all. It was the exact same promotion registrars have run with other gTLDs in the past. We just happened to get more attention because it started on our launch day.
It seems that people either love us or hate us and I think either of those options is better than to not be known at all.