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Happy 30th, dot-com

Get ready for a crowd of domain name siblings


Dot-com – the ubiquitous suffix that steers our browsers around so much of the internet – is turning 30 this week. The birthday is all the more notable since the Internet has been going live with more than 500 top level domains. Coming soon to a browser near you is a web address ending in .coffee, or .florist or in company names such as .nissan or .hermes. There are even domains for political parties. Already taken: and, though not by any person or organization that can be readily associated with the potential candidates.

Dot-com is one of the eight original internet addresses which included dot-org, dot-net, dot-edu and dot-gov. Dot-com was first used in March 1985 by Symbolics Inc., a now defunct computer systems firm from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Today there are 270 million registered domain names and 42 percent end in dot-com.

The flood of new top level domain names are both a blessing and curse for thousands of companies and organizations that care about the integrity of trademarks and brands. What flower shop wouldn’t want a web address that ends in dot-florist? On the other hand, no candidate wants to see in the hands of an opposition PAC. And it would take an edgy marketer to tie its brand identity to dot-wtf.

Due in part to these very concerns, ICANN, the international corporation in charge of domain names and internet addresses around the world, spent the better part of a decade to sort through issues of security, trademark protection, fraud prevention and governance before it started releasing the new web address extensions.

The latest batch of top level domain extensions are selling at prices on par with those for Georgetown real estate. Dot-tech sold for $6.76 million; Amazon grabbed dot-buy for $4.6 million; Minds + Machines bought dot-vip for just over $3 million. Google reportedly paid more than $25 million for the dot-app suffix.

The new domains are gold rush for companies like Donuts, goDaddy and Network Solutions who are in the business of registering web addresses chosen by brands, companies and organizations.

Donuts, which paid $56 million to get into the domain registry space, is leveraging the 30th anniversary of dot-com with a marketing campaign designed to sell businesses on branding their product or service with an appropriate new domain.

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