NamesCon keynote: Frank Schilling’s comments on new TLDs
Here are my notes from Frank Schilling’s keynote at NamesCon this evening. In a couple spots I changed the order of his comments because he discussed the same issue at two or more spots in his talk (mostly in response to Q&A).
The introduction of new TLDs is an evolution. It’s going to take many, many years.
There are 7 billion people on earth, so for the most part nobody has domain names. This is because domains are very hard to use. That’s why people use Facebook instead of domains. It’s simpler to create a Facebook page.
With deregulation including ending registry/registrar integration, it will be easier to use domains. This is going to make a big difference.
Innovation will unlock the value of domains.
These new names will not, not, not make .com domains go away. Even though an 800 number is harder to use than 888 (one number), I still want an 800 number because it was first and people think about it.
There is no way to undermine the jaugernaut that .com is overnight. But remember, only 1% of people use names. As that grows, people are going to buy these new names.
There may be a short time that your .com portfolio is affected. People may try out new domains, but they’ll say “I really should get the .com.”
You haven’t had registries come out with meaningful strings at hand registration prices in more than a decade. Yes, there are some new TLDs coming out that will be more expensive. But there will be an opportunity to get good domains at low prices. That opportunity hasn’t been here for many years.
Audience question: what worries you most about upcoming landscape?
Frank: Well, there’s a lot of uncertainty. Here I am selling new gTLDs, what does all that available inventory do to the seconary marketplace for com/net? I think adding all these new names grows the pie. If you have really lousy names you might be in trouble. Maybe you can’t sell them for as much as before. But if you have names that get even a small level of traffic, you’ll still be able to sell them for something.
I’d just say that putting your head in the ground and wishing all these new TLDs away isn’t going to help you.
This year is a really good year to “make it happen.” Be smart. Do what got you here. Get the good ones at low prices that you can get. Hold on to them, manage them prudently, then sell them.
I don’t know what a lot of these exensions will be used for. Some that people say are going to be great I don’t think will be, and there will be some that people think are going to fail that will take off.
We’re going to see some that were uncontested selling more domains than ones that went for $14 M at auction.
As for what new TLDs mean for the industry…Uniregistry will spend $40 million getting some of these names, that’s if I use my own money. But if I take investor money even more will get spent. Anytime someone spends a lot of money, that’s neat. We’ll spend money on marketing, you’ll see more people at conferences. And we’re not the largest player. So this is good overall for the industry.
When you consider which domains to buy, consider the registry, how it’s being run, etc. I bought $1.8 M worth of .xxx domains. I would have bought more, but the interfaces that delivered these, the registrar interface sucked so badly, that I had no confidence in the namespace. When you buy new TLDs you should look at how good the registry is, what tools are with them, etc.
Audience question: Frank, will you invest in others’ new TLDs (i.e. register SLDs in other people’s TLDs)?
Answer: No. I have my hands full running my own registries. But I’ll carry them at my own registrar. On February 28 I’m going to launch my registrar, which we think will have a great deal of utility. Some really unique innovation in there. I want it to feel a little bit like the iphone. That’s hard to do with a registrar. I’m going to offer other people’s domains at the registrar.