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What Wordpress founder Matt Mullenweg said about domain names at NamesCon

Wordpress enforces its brand in domain names and doesn’t plan to use any new top level domain names.

Matt Mullenweg (right) speaking at NamesCon.
Matt Mullenweg (right) being interviewed by Braden Pollock (left) at NamesCon.
One of the nice surprises at NamesCon last week was a last-minute appearance by Matt Mullenweg. Mullenweg created Wordpress and is CEO of Automattic, which runs the hosted Wordpress.com platform.

Unfortunately, since it was last minute, I did not get to hear his entire Q&A with Braden Pollock. I did catch a couple of his comments about domain names, however.

When asked about the company’s feelings about people using “wordpress” in their domain names, Mullenweg said they do sometimes go after domain owners. (In fact, WordPress Foundation and Automattic filed a combined nine UDRP cases for “wordpress” domain names in 2013.)

Mullenweg said this is mostly to protect people from downloading malware. They want everyone to go directly to Wordpress.com/.org to sign up for the service or download the software, and they don’t want people to be confused by other sites that use Wordpress in their domain name to look like Wordpress.

On the topic of new TLDs, Mullenweg said this: we’ll register our name in all of them, but use none of them.

He said the company uses MarkMonitor for brand protection. Wordpress will protect itself with defensive registrations, but he doesn’t see the company actually using any of its domains in new TLDs. This gets back to his comment on brand enforcement: he wants everyone to know that Wordpress.com is its trusted domain, and using other domains would lead to confusion.

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  1. Acro

    Nothing surprising here. Brand protection is the basic reason for expanding beyond the currently used TLDs (.com/.org in the case of WordPress) but creating distinct user experiences is mostly geared towards companies that have tangible products and a variety of services. It was a very interesting late minute addition to the agenda. It was great meeting again at NamesCon, Andrew.

  2. Braden Pollock

    I enjoyed interviewing Matt. He’s extraordinarily down to earth and humble for founding a billion dollar company. The fact that 21% of all sites are built on his platform is mind blowing.

  3. Waaaay Too High!

    Hi Andrew,

    I concur with Matt that practically all companies will continue to use their .com and completely ignore the new tlds — especially after they see GoDaddy’s just published pricing schedule. Some huge companies, such as WordPress, may buy some or all as defensive plays, but that is not what these new registries are hoping for and will certainly not allow them to meet the growth projections they all need to survive.

    Check out these incredible prices yourself.

    If I weren’t already convinced of the pending gtld failure, this new annual price list would certainly solidify it!

    Go to https://www.godaddy.com/bulk-domain-search.aspx and then scroll way down.

    • Andrew Allemann

      These prices are the pre-registration prices, although I imagine they are close to what the standard rates will be.

      I think most domains will cost $25+/year, effectively making .com domains a discounted domain.

      .Luxury’s wholesale price to registrars will be $400. Now that’s a luxury!

  4. Joey

    Holy .CRAP! Those prices are absurd and most are listed as the renewal prices too!

    .CONSTRUCTION? Twelve characters to the right of the dot? Geez, I have entire URL’s that are much shorter than that! How’s that gonna work if I were to use it as an email address? Why would I want to pay a premium to tack on unnecessary additional characters knowing full well that if any single one of them gets mis-typed, the email will not reach me and, if the sender accidentally types .com, it will accidentally go to a competitor.

    My ESP is not very good, but a blind man can see total failure rapidly approaching.

  5. Larry Fischer

    We went up after the talk. Matt actually like one of the domains we owned and exchanged cards. It surprised me to hear from him an hour later inquiring on the domain.

  6. Mike

    I assume such defensive action will cost them about $100k in registration/renewal fees each year. And the winner is…..

  7. Acro

    The world of tech/marketing/media is hundreds of times larger than domaining. Budgets are astronomical compared to what Joe Domainer sees in their lifetime. Every company’s actions are based on strategic decisions and the plane is currently in shifting mode. What won’t change is the need for more options.

  8. Henry

    No surprise there for me. Only a scatterbrain will forsake his or her “.com” and focus on any of the emerging tlds as their main web address. As a matter of fact, those holding the good generic “.coms” will benefit as a result of the confusion they are about to unleash. There are too many to remember, and therefore many will always seek out or type the established norm, the “.com” equivalent. And I welcome that since, many in the attempt to publicize their business will spend a great deal of money on advertising to get customers and consumers alike to recognize or remember their web address. There will be a great deal of bleed over as many will always type what comes to their head or mind, the name with “.com” at the end of it.

    Put simply, “.com” will be the least line of resistance and hence the first choice in the sea of many and in the face of the ensuing confusion. It is the legacy tld in the minds of many no matter how we try to convince ourselves otherwise.

  9. Steve

    Matt’s comment reveals two of the foundational pillars why .com will always be king by far; and why all these new tlds will be nothing more than wasteland scrub brush:

    “He wants everyone to know that WordPress.com is its trusted domain, and using other domains would lead to confusion.”

    1. Trusted.

    2. No confusion.

    New tlds? DOA. RIP.

  10. Kassey

    Now .com domain names look like bargains at $8.19 renewal (Discount Domain Club). Another reason to focus on .com and existing gTLDs.

  11. Gypsum Fantastic

    .menu?

    A restaurant isn’t just a menu so why would they use that TLD? Or why would they only host their menu on a .menu address whilst the rest of their website is on their .com?

    Idiocracy springs to mind.

  12. Joe Domainer

    Hmmm. So, for $25, I can either buy 3 established and credible .COM’s which have the ability to attract traffic and SEO nicely …or…I can buy 1 confusing, non-established and non-credible .CRAP (with up to 12 letters and poor SEO) which leaks both traffic and email to the .COM.

    Hmmm. Gimmee some time to think about that.

    Of course, the gTLD proponents will predictably say: “But no more short .COM’s are readily available!”

    Perhaps that is correct, but neither is Manhattan real estate. Deal with it, guys!

    They will say “These extensions are not for us, they are for our kids!”

    To that I say that is very noble of you, but there is no way you will get me to believe that these registries will be in business that long. Not at those prices, anyways. Surely, not with my money.

  13. Ryann

    Amen. Well said. I see no viability there whatsoever other than a bunch of registry profiteers trying to make a quick buck. The public will never accept these and their house of cards will quickly come crashing down, injuring quite a few bystanders in the process.

  14. Perle Green

    The gtld hooplah and wishful thinking is getting old and tired. The gtld idea is just a bad money suck and will not work. Don’t let your .com’s lapse.

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