The story of how Dot Vegas, Inc. won the battle for .vegas and how it plans to bring the TLD to market.
I recently met Dustin Trevino, CFO of Dot Vegas, Inc., and learned more about the company’s plans for the .Vegas top level domain. In this interview, the company explains the effort it undertook to get city approval for the .vegas top level domain, and reveals that it quietly obtained the blessing of Nevada’s then-governor for its bid.
DNW: When did you start working on the idea for a .vegas top level domain?
To be honest, the idea of a .vegas TLD was an afterthought. We, the founders of Dot Vegas, Inc., all had previous experience with the eNIC Corporation, the Registry and Registrar for the country code top level domain .cc. As a result, when ICANN first announced its intention to open up the TLD space, we put our heads together and started formulating ideas. Like others we played around with strings ranging from .astro to .zifundel. It wasn’t until the 2008 Paris ICANN meeting that we settled on the string .vegas and started working with Mayor Oscar Goodman and other city officials. Until then, .vegas wasn’t even on our radar.
DNW: Explain the challenge that came up between the city of Las Vegas and the county over which had power to “endorse” a Las Vegas top level domain.
That’s a tough question to answer in isolation. After reading the draft application guidebook it was apparent that we would need the city of Las Vegas’s endorsement. And since the City Council is the only governing body with jurisdiction over matters concerning Las Vegas we knew that they would consider themselves the final arbiter of all things Vegas. After all, Las Vegas has been known as Vegas almost since its incorporation in 1911.
On the other hand, the Clark County commission is the governing body for Clark County. And while the city of Las Vegas does reside (geographically) within the boundaries of Clark County, the two entities are separate and distinct. To us we always saw the endorsement of the Clark County commission as secondary to that of the Las Vegas City Council. While it is an important body whose authority should not be underestimated, nowhere upon its seal or stationary does the name Las Vegas appear. We felt this would be problematic to anyone looking from the outside in.
For us, asking the Clark County Commission for their endorsement would be like asking Elvis Presley’s manager for his autograph because Elvis wasn’t available. However, just in case we did get into a game of one-upmanship, which we did, we got the then sitting governor of Nevada, Jim Gibbons, to quietly endorse our .vegas application. Until today this information was not known to the public.
DNW: You ended up choosing .vegas instead of .lasvegas, why?
Las Vegas has two names. To those that live here, it is Las Vegas. To those that visit it is known as Vegas. Our rational was simple. If forty million annual visitors and hundreds of million more know it as Vegas, who were we to argue? Plus the City made it clear that they wanted the .vegas TLD to be a world wide TLD. So choosing .vegas over .lasvegas was easy.
DNW: The Geographic Names Panel ended up determining that .vegas wasn’t a protected geographic name because it wasn’t .lasvegas. Does that have any effect on .vegas?
We were shocked by the Geographic Names Panel decision. To be honest we are not sure why they decided we are not a geographic name. To date no one from the panel has contacted us about their decision. As far as impact goes we are not sure. However, we are hopeful that being classified a generic TLD will help us reach a larger audience. After all, the City has always wanted the .vegas TLD to reach a worldwide audience.
DNW: Who is the target market for .vegas? In other words, what types of registrants do you expect?
With over 40 million visitors a year and hundreds of millions more who have or will come to Vegas the possibilities are endless. Because Vegas means different things to different people we expect it to appeal to a broad cross section of users. As the head of the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Center once remarked, “Wherever you go in the world you meet people who have been to Vegas, are going to Vegas or want to go to Vegas.” To us that’s our market.