An opportunity wasted and a couple hundred grand down the drain.
I posted this tweet on the eve of the new top level domain reveal day:
Offering a .livestrong domain seems like a good idea to me. Think of the millions of Lance Armstrong Foundation fans supporting the cause and wearing their yellow wristbands. Why not give each of them a name.livestrong domain name? They can use it to raise money, post about their battles with cancer, etc. Much of this functionality already exists on LiveStrong.com. Charge them a nominal fee each year to maintain their domain and fill up the coffers to fight cancer.
I was right that the non-profit would apply for .LiveStrong. But I missed everything else by a mile.
First, the Lance Armstrong Foundation picked Verisign as its backend registry provider. This is rather shocking. Lance Armstrong and the non-profit currently have a marketing deal with Demand Media to run the Livestrong.com web site. Demand Media is also offering backend registry services. So why did it shun its existing partner for Verisign?
Second, the foundation has no plans to offer .livestrong domains to the public. It will only offer them to partners. As described in the non-profit’s application, it would provide partners such as Nike with second level domains, e.g. nike.livestrong. As described in the application, this will apparently benefit internet users:
We believe our innovative approach will increase our constituent’s user experience by eliminating confusion and creating a consistent, dedicated Top Level Domain for LIVESTRONG-branded product. Users will also benefit from the LIVESTRONG gTLD because they will have a warranty as to the origin, authenticity, and quality of goods and services offered thereunder since our only content, products, and services and⁄or our corporate partnersʹ and sponsorsʹ content, products,and services will be available thereunder.
Innovative? This is an example of “dumb innovation”. The Lance Armstrong Foundation could easily accomplish the same thing by giving its limited number of partners a third level domain on Livestrong.com or .org, e.g. nike.livestrong.com. Why is a top level domain necessary to accomplish this?
It will be interesting to see if LiveStrong.com works with the foundation to capture the large amount of error traffic headed its way, too. A large percentage of people looking for nike.livestrong will type .com at the end.