Esther Dyson Calls B.S. On New Top Level Domain Names

Founding chair of ICANN’s board says new TLDs are a waste of money.

On the way into work this morning I heard yet another report about new top level domain names, this time on NPR.

The report interviewed Esther Dyson. Among her many experiences was being the founding chairwoman of ICANN.

So what did she have to say about new top level domain names?

“I think it’s kind of a useless market,” she says, “and if I had $185,000, I’d spend it on something else.”

… “Nobody’s creating new value here,” Dyson says, “They’re just selling words.”


The story also interviews Forrester analyst Jeff Ernst. Ernst gives an example of how new TLDs enable innovation for brands:

So not only is Canon now going to be dot-Canon,” he says, “but Canon can now issue secondary domains to every one of its camera owners, and what they might very well do is embed a chip in their cameras that link that camera owner to their ID so that as they’re taking photos they could just be automatically uploading photos to a photo-sharing site. I mean, that’s just one possibility.”

Yes, it’s a possibility. In fact, it’s possible today with the plain old domain name. It would just be at the third level instead of the second. (And in fact, that would be a lot cheaper since Canon will have to pay 25 cents to ICANN for each second level domain it registers. Third level domains? Those are free.)

What does Dyson have to say about .canon?

“ works fine, as far as I’m concerned.”

I wouldn’t discourage a brand from applying for a top level domain name. The price is peanuts to a big company. But let’s not pretend examples like this — which I hear over and over — are something that is only enabled with the introduction of new TLDs.

Will there be innovation with new TLDs? It’s entirely possible. I just hate to hear examples of innovation that aren’t innovative.


  1. says

    Before: Пример.com
    After: Пример.ком
    Innovative? Not sure but a big difference to Billions of non English speaking countries.

    As for.Hotels and.Others is a.Different.Story.

  2. says

    A monster has already been created by ICANN.
    The price maybe high today for these gTLDs, who is to say these prices wont drop to a few thousand, or even a few hundred dollars in the following months and years? Perhaps, lease options?

    Eventually, this monster will grow millions of tentacles, and confuse the heck out of every body.

    Then again, it may NOT be a bad thing to shake up the entire corrupt industry. Bring it on!

  3. 3 Pound Hammer says

    If people think there is hate for ICANN now, just wait until a few years pass and even the regular business community hates them for fuc*ing up a good domain eco system.

    Here come big, useless expenditures that fill ICANN’s bank accounts and create even more domain name confusion.

    ICANN really did a disservice to the public, businesses, and ultimately itself.

    ICANN should be run by domainers b/c we are the ones that understand the domain environment, not these overpaid puppets that shower themselves and “sponsors” with big parties all over the world.

    “Yeah….we innovated! Let’s have a big party in Singapore!!!”

    What corrupt idiots ICANN are !!!

  4. says

    After the Professor Carlton in his much derided reports in 2009 said “ICANN TLD Expansion will “Increase Output, Lower Price and Increase Innovation”

    The First CEO & President of ICANN said

    “More TLD Nonsense”

    “This sounds like academic “the market can do no wrong” stuff. After almost ten years of bubbles and corporate scandals such as Worldcom, can’t we have a break?

    “The real problem is that Network Solutions, now Verisign, used the high tech “first to market” phenomenon to establish the dot-com monopoly registry early on. It is as strong now as it was ten years ago. ICANN tried to break it with dot-info and dot-biz and utterly failed.

    “If there is a case for new TLD’s, this isn’t it.

  5. FarmerJohn says

    From the WTR article:

    “We don’t want anyone else to get ‘.ikea’. But from a marketing perspective we don’t see benefit – just increased costs and also more work to be done in house.”

    Doesn’t that pretty much summarize the perspective of most brand owners?

    And Nordling (ICANN) seems to have been misquoted — at least I think he meant to say “We know that the ICANN board will fast-track approval of the Applicant Guidebook regardless of the concerns voiced by the IP community.”

  6. Steve says

    The sleeping giant in this announcement is idn.idn for .com and .net. The fact that they (Icann) lumped it in with the .whatever money grab is a huge disservice to all non-English speaking internet users. Giving idn.cctlds a 3+ year jump was also nuts and just proves how out of touch these people are.

  7. John Berryhill says

    “We don’t want anyone else to get ‘.ikea’. But from a marketing perspective we don’t see benefit – just increased costs and also more work to be done in house.”

    Nobody else is going to get .ikea, so Ikea has the option of applying for it or not.

    I have no idea how all of this will work out, but the same sort of logic applies at any level of the DNS. For example, there is no reason to register either, since they could all do perfectly well with email addresses like and a Facebook page or

  8. says

    ‘… For example, there is no reason to register either, since they could all do perfectly well with email addresses like and a Facebook page or….”

    There is no reason to use either.
    There can go to big Ikea retail store shopfront warehouse factory to do shopping. There can shop with big bundles… shopping online wounldn’t give you shopping experience, attention and satisfaction.

    Shopping in physical ikea stores can lead you to free goodies, such as free coffee, hotdog and bbq and smiling happy faces.

  9. Drewbert says

    Must be fun being a non-profit and having to spent every red cent worth of tax you raise from registrants!

    I see a BBJ in ICANN’s future, hell they’ll have enough money to lay their own runway for it!

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