DigitalTown Announces .CITY Domain Network – Buys 11,000 .City Domain Names

DigitalTown, Inc. (OTC PINK: DGTW) today announced that it has acquired more than 11,000 .CITY domains for use with an international rollout of the DigitalTown’s flagship Smart City Platform and the Global Smart City Network.

The announcement occurs on the eve of the US Mayors conference from June 24-27 in Indianapolis, leading up to International City/County Management Association (ICMA) annual meeting September 25-28, 2016 in Kansas City, and the Global Smart City Expo November 15-17 in Barcelona Spain.

The .CITY domain extension is part of the new generation of intuitive “Smart Web” navigation extensions approved by ICANN, the global domain name industry regulator. The .CITY domain extension is the ideal extension for city information. DigitalTown has assembled the world’s largest portfolio of .CITY domains that exactly match to many of the largest population centers around the world as well as to the majority of the cities across the United States.

The network of .CITY domains are being made available to cities as part of a global network of public-private partnerships utilizing the DigitalTown SmartCity platform.

Rob Monster, CEO of DigitalTown commented on the initiative saying, “The DigitalTown SmartCity platform is an ideal framework for enabling any city to become a Smart City. At the same time, DigitalTown is leading the dialog with international stakeholders in the architecture of the ‘Smart Web’. The highly intuitive .CITY web navigation standard will allow residents and visitors of any city to easily connect to latest information, either through web or mobile devices.”

The 11,000+ domain names were registered with Epik registrar, whose CEO is again Rob Monster. .City New gTLD now has over 30,000 registered domains up from about 18,500 last month.

The .CITY domain extension is managed by Donuts, Inc., the largest registry for new domain extensions, led by Paul Stahura, who previously founded and led the eNom registrar.

“The introduction of new domain extensions was meant to encourage innovations in the Internet namespace like this one,” Stahura said. “DigitalTown’s use of .CITY for this digital platform is an intuitive way for citizens and visitors to find information that’s relevant to them, and for cities to expand their outreach.”

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DigitalTown aims to “empower cities to become Smart Cities by leveraging existing technology to help cities lower costs, gain efficiencies and improve civic engagement, resulting in thriving local economies, enhanced community interaction, and real-time access to the growing number of Smart City services that are being introduced in local communities around the world.”

Chris Maxwell, Chief Technical Officer of DigitalTown added, “By 2020, there will be at least fifty billion things connected to the Internet. These ‘things’ are sensors, meters, cameras, lights, gauges, and other hardware that will produce and transmit data to create an ‘Internet of Things’. DigitalTown aims to make this greatly expanded Internet highly usable for consumers. The .CITY domain, as part of a Smart Web, is an integral part of this exciting phase of Internet innovation.”

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About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

24 comments

  1. It reminds me very much of Neustar’s (failed) zip code project.
    Or the zip.pro project from Cyprus (https://www.namepros.com/threads/the-pro-discussion.522420/page-114#post-4113150)

    Buying names in bulk is easy.
    Mass development is hard.

    Why do I smell failure ?

    PS: city.com is parked at GD, maybe it’s for sale ?
    Would work well for setting up subdomains. Add as many subdomains as you want, at no additional cost.

    • 11,000 domains would cost about half a million per year in renewals. Or maybe 250k with a Donuts discount deal.

      Maybe city.com would be cheaper in the long run.

      • The difference between crowding city.com subdomains for this project versus using independent .city domains is pretty clear.

        Which responsible municipality would want their city’s data transmitted via 11K connected subdomains on one single domain? Its not even safe! That is catastrophic at best.

        @Kate — you’re pretty much suggesting everyone should travel thru sea because its less prone to accidents or cheaper, therefore other means of transportation should be ditched.

        DGTW can easily contract with city municipalities around the globe offering and managing the technology behind each city’s matching domain on a subscription basis, using their proprietary smart web services that would connect city sensors, meters, cameras, lights, gauges, and other hardware that will produce and transmit data for residence on their smart web platform.

        Where you smell failure, I smell success. Upgrade your mindset.

      • It is again going to be on one database so what is the difference in security?

      • When somebody buys thousands of domains to ‘develop’ them according to some grand plan – it never (never) pans out well.

        I quoted a few examples but I have more.

        Buying so many domains is a sure way to carry an expensive burden in renewal fees. And I repeat, it is unnecessary. First you show a proof of concept, then you scale up.

        Did they even team up with a few towns for the initial launch ? Is there a proof of concept. A startup without clients is nothing.

  2. Guys,

    As for the CEO of DigitalTown, I have a little context to offer here.

    In short, DigitalTown is building a Global Smart City platform. This platform is designed to enable any city to be an authority on itself. It is a branded vertical search engine for a city, combined features for community and commerce. Where possible the city itself is the administrator of the site. That may not happen overnight but that is the preferred configuration, for which the city, county or state, licenses the Software as a Service.

    An early demonstration site can be found at: http://www.leavenworth.city/ . You can also download the mobile app for iOS or Android. There are 2 test markets live, the main one being Sibley County, MN which has 7 live cities online. We are learning how to engage local stakeholders in the adoption of a platform that brings together content, community and commerce in a way that is designed to support thriving local economies and engaged communities.

    The DigitalTown platform is also designed for single-sign-on. This allows a user to have portable identity, portable reputation and portable payment methods as they come from city to city. We believe the notion of having to use a different app for every town or city would be silly. So in our solution, the city sites are branded for each city but the mobile app is shared across the network.

    As for the domain ownership economics, the year 1 wholesale for the vast majority of these domains was $3 thanks to a special deal that is available through Epik registrar. The wholesale renewal cost is $13. Even the highly premium domains like Sydney.city, Melbourne.city, Perth.city and Brisbane.city, etc, renew at under $70 each. Without question, Donuts priced the .CITY registry very reasonably. The special pricing here was in part because Donuts is supportive of our efforts to bundle the .CITY domain with a scalable content management system for adoption by cities.

    As further context on how I am looking at domains, I posted a related blog post the other day on the Epik blog:

    http://www.epik.com/blog/why-digitaltown-bought-10000-city-domains-and-why-it-matters.html

    We there is an important need for some type of logical architecture for these new TLDs. For cities there are some very logical points of entry. We are starting with .MENU for local restaurant directories, but there will be more of these niche platforms for verticals bundled with the domains, and using the same digital wallet framework.

    As for the software itself, Uber has given us a small preview of what “Smart City” technology looks like with software serving as an organizing force among stakeholders. However, we think cities are a stakeholder and should be brought along. For example, Austin threw out Uber and is doing their own Ride Austin as a public-private partnership. I met with the organizers of Ride Austin on Wednesday. In short, template is set for cities around the world to play a greater role in equipping citizens and visitors with Smart City technology.

    Candidly, this is the most excited I have been about a new Internet venture in my entire history as a tech entrepreneur. And while there are some trade-offs with operating a public company that needs to maintain SEC compliance, I think the benefits outweigh the costs, which is why I agreed to take on this role last May, and to bring what I think is a world-changing plan into an existing public company.

    One of the main benefits of having public shares is an enhanced ability to do acquisitions. The acquisition targets get shares in a public company. So far we have done 2 acquisitions: (1) an existing technology company called Cloud.Market, and (2) a very nice portfolio of 400 .CITY domains for a combination of cash and stock in a deal worth $75K. I anticipate that there will be more of such deals as we assemble strategic components of the ecosystem and the associated value-chain.

    For more information, visit DigitalTown.com, or contact me at rob@digitaltown.com to request the whitepaper. We will be exhibiting in September at the International City Manager conference in Kansas City, and at the Global Smart City Expo (15,000 attending) in Barcelona in November. For anyone trying get up to speed about Smart City technology, I recommend the Barcelona show. If you set up a Google News alert for “smart city”, I think you will be surprised by how much is going on in this space.

    • Most of the times these shares end up worthless, salaries eat up all the money, this was done to death with directories, not a fun business.

      I doubt these guys will be able to keep up with renewals, their only play is to get the stock price high, then use it to do deals, and gain domains, most who sell for shares usually end up with nothing when dealing with pink sheet type companies.

      Only insiders ever benefit with options, and insider sales.

      • @Rich –

        I joined DigitalTown in May 2015, initially for a 1 year interim executive position after being recruited by the Company’s Board. On June 3, 2016 the Board ratified a 2 year contract extension on the same terms as the first year.

        As for executive compensation, the overwhelming majority of my compensation is in the form of common stock. In the early days of the turnaround, the SEC filings will show that I deferred cash compensation and then took it in the form of common stock. I fly coach. I was in Cleveland on Thursday/Friday for meetings — took a red-eye to CLE on Frontier and stayed 1 night in the Residence Inn, renting a compact car as it was cheaper than taking an Uber for my itinerary. You get the idea. I know how to live comfortably, but I don’t do so at the company’s expense as it would set the wrong example and create a culture of profligacy, to which I strongly object.

        As for the shareholders, I have personally met with many of the long-time shareholders, long before my involvement. I have held 3 live sessions to a full room of 100+ persons in a facilities room in a bar/restaurant called Neisen’s corner in Belle Plaine, MN. These are farmers, real estate agents, professionals, retirees and school administrators. While I am familiar with the pump and dump penny stock operating model, that is not what the Board signed up for. Just FYI, a number of the Board members are Bible-believing Christians with plenty of money. Yes, we want the stock to go up, but in an orderly way.

        I believe the likely exit for the largest shareholders — most of whom hold restricted stock, including myself — is for the company to be acquired by some larger entity that needs a compelling platform on which to execute the Smart City strategy. That being said, we are building responsibly and for long-term value. I know how to contain expenses, raising funds as needed in order to minimize dilution of existing shareholders. And, just for calibration, the company did book $250K in orders in May from 3 customers, so there is a least some validation from the market that there is demand for these solutions.

        If you feel really strongly about your views, I invite you to short the stock. This would be helpful as none of the existing shareholders are selling, even on Brexit Friday. So, we could use some extra free-trading float right now. At the end of the day, I view DigitalTown as a high potential early stage company that just happens to be public. As such, I suggest you set aside your pre-conceived notions. If you choose not to do so, then by all means please short the stock. In a few years, we will both know if you were right or not. If you do short the stock, just be aware that your potential loss is uncapped, so seriously don’t do this just to prove a point.

        By the way, people who know from me the domain industry generally know that I am an open book. My cell phone number is 425-765-0077. I warmly welcome thoughtful critique from smart people who can temper my optimism and who can help anticipate future roadblocks.

    • “SmartUSA.city” 🙂

  3. i can see a big price jump for good .city domains
    I smell profit 🙂

  4. Brilliant play cornering the .city market. Maybe it’s time to buy DGTW stock.

  5. While I like the idea of of an interlocking network of geo new gTLD domains developed specifically to cater to a local market, I think that the scope is way to large in scale to encompass the entire globe. Don’t get me wrong, i don’t mean to say that it can’t be done, just that by the time they develop out the 11k+ domains, there will be 11k+ other developers done with city sites targeting the cities the network failed to register.

    This probably won’t cause that much of a problem since there are already geo city sites developed already that the network will have to compete with. However, it definitely something to consider. I suppose I’m just not convinced that 11k+ domain renewals every year is cost effective when sub-domains and sub-folders could achieve the same outcome.

    When you shave off all the pretty trimmings, it feels like an expensive version of CraigsList with a few more bells, whistles, and aesthetically pleasing design elements.

    • As for the city list, most of the .city domains that are worth owning are now taken. We obviously checked before talking publicly. There are just a few guys remaining with significant .city domain portfolios. We have pretty much talked to them all. It is not imperative that these city sites be built on .city domains. Indeed for the largest cities, there are ample solutions in place for most of the obvious use-cases. DigitalTown’s development focus is on empowering the city with between 1000 and 100,000 population. We have the vast majority of these .CITY domains covered for the US.

      What you may not grasped is the idea that this platform is intended to enable the city to be an authority on itself. This role is ideally filled by city administration who is the primary target customer for this solution, though local private sector civic leaders can certainly fill that local leadership gap to the extent it exists. Friday’s press release was intended for US Mayors meeting in Indianapolis this weekend. The domain industry picked up the story which is great but not the target audience.

      For calibration, the typical mid-sized city is spending between $30K and $300K per year on maintaining a website that almost very few people visit. In addition, the visitors bureau and chamber of commerce will often have their own sites, which again are rarely visited. The scenario DigitalTown proposes is that the city should have a city-wide search engine administered by the city populated with the content that is curated by locals. As we say, “See the world through local eyes”.

      The software leaders in the city website sector are highly profitable companies like Civic Plus and Vision Internet, plus a large number of custom sites built by local dev shops. These platforms are largely for broadcast, not dialog. We think city management should play a greater role in economic development through the branded web presence that connects the community, and supports merchants online — 2 areas where cities do remarkably little today.

      The other thing you have probably not grasped is the massive amount of innovation going on in the area of Smart City and Internet of Things (IoT) specifically for city-level innovation. As these various services come online, consumers will need an onramp for engaging these services. We think this can be effectively achieved through (1) intuitive direct navigation, and (2) a unified mobile app. In other words, we don’t think that it is practical for each city to have its own app.

      Specific to direct navigation, I have no idea if geo.TLD domains will be a big thing. However, I do feel strongly that the domain industry needs to make direct navigation more intuitive and that geo TLDs are a fine place to start. The first TLD to sign on to that vision .MENU for powering local restaurant discovery. Similar strategic deals are pending for other TLDs. These long term strategic deals are category exclusive, i.e. for restaurant discovery it will be .MENU.

      Of course we don’t claim to have the monopoly on good ideas, and welcome the intellectual banter. At the same time, I do see the recurring pattern of guys with city.com coming out of the woodwork talking their own book. So, readers of these threads are advised to form their own opinions being mindful of personal domain portfolio agendas that at times may seek to defend the .COM forever status quo.

      So, stay tuned, and thanks for watching!

  6. If I understand correctly the cities/town councils are the targeted clients.
    So what happens to all the domains whose cities are not getting on board ?

    • The vertical search engine for the city will still operate for each city and the mobile app will still have aggregated and curated content for each city in the network. No decision has been taken around local franchising to non-city managers. That said, it is conceivable that private sector civlc leaders could stand in the gap if city management in a particular city opts not to engage. Our focus is on city managers and county managers. Funding for some cities may come from state and federal grants, notably for economic development and tourism development. There are also specific grants for smart city innovation, including a $40 million award announced last week to Columbus, OH from a Department of Transportation program called Smart Cities Challenge.

      • Mr Robert
        are you guys still trying to buy more .city domains ? or just going to start with what you have? there some premium/major .city domain names (chicago.city,lasvegas.city,losangeles.city…etc) which you guys don’t own, did you guys try to approach the owners of these domains to see if they are willing to sell? in my opinion this plan would only work if you have a large portfolio of major cities in the world specially USA
        wish you all the best.

      • @ Sean – We talked to most of these owners. Most of the big cities are held by one individual who splits his time between Ottawa and Dubai, where 2 of our team members did meet with him in person earlier this month. A deal may eventually get done there, but for the moment, there is no deal to be done there. We are actively looking for .CITY acquisitions that make sense. However, we don’t need every big city to execute the launch. It is in fact the smaller cities that need the most help with economic development and tourism development. We have plenty of great cities with which to work now as we go from test market phase to global rollout in the coming months.

  7. Welll presented argument Rob.

  8. almost a year has passed and DT still missing some good high potential .city domains
    Toronto.City
    Chicago.City
    LasVegas.City
    LosAngeles.City
    Atlantic.City
    Dubai.City
    and more

    Big/popular cities are where money is at. The “RIGHT” platform can align with 100x different revenue generation triggers, maximize keyword organic positioning strength, and end up being a super enhancer in any direction you want to go.

    it seems like they either ran out of the money to buy these domains or things are going south with their project and they don’t want to spend any more money

    • Greetings from Istanbul – the latest stop on a multi-city tour of Madrid, Amsterdam, Berlin, Istanbul and then Chicago later today.

      As for these cities, if you are not aware, most of those cities you mention below have their own registries, e.g. .LONDON where DigitalTown has a strategic partnership. You can read about Smart.London here:

      http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/digitaltown-digital-greenwich-dot-london-domains-mmx-announce-strategic-partnership-otc-pink-dgtw-2214846.htm

      We do own Las-Vegas.city and New-York.city, and are in discussions in .NYC. We already have deals with .LONDON, .BOSTON, .MIAMI with many similar deals pending. There are 51 CITY TLDs.

      In case not aware, I presented last Thursday in Madrid at ICANN GDD to the the City TLD stakeholders:



      So, Frank, in short, rather than being an uninformed nincompoop who makes wild speculations, perhaps read the news and inform yourself first.

      Incidentally, as you are likely aware, most of those domains in your list are owned by a guy named Ahmad and his brother Walid. They have completely delusional expectations about the worth of their city domains. In fact, I have stopped event trying to talk to them about buying or renting their domains.

      Overall, I think we have the right solution for maximizing shareholder value. We own 23,000 .CITY domains. We also picked up about 5,000 very nice .LONDON domains for very reasonable prices, and are working with the city registries through major strategic partnerships, e.g. .ISTANBUL was earlier this week.

      If you want to fully inform yourself, I suggest you visit Smart.London or join the launch event on June 13 in London either in person or via Live Cam at London.Cam.

      • Rob i am pretty informed guy, that is why I am sharing my opinion here 🙂
        you guys should have secured these good .city domains first before jumping to buy 23k .city domains ,ofcourse “Ahmad” wants some crazy figures for his domains after he knows you guys own over 23k .city domains, you guys should have approached him way before buying all these names, all these domains that are not own by your company, now will take an advantage of your technology if your project is successful

        when your company purchases over 23k domains with .city extension, users are expecting to see your platform on . city domains, period
        If I know you guys are using .city domains for each city if i want check Istanbul for example , I go directly to Istanbul.city , when you change your domain format it is much hard for users to find you
        same goes with new-york city or las-vegas city . dash between words for a domain name? really?

        good luck

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