Kansas City group makes $2 million bet on top-level domains
Among the nearly 2,000 applications for top-level domain names revealed Wednesday at an Internet Corporation for Assigned Named and Numbers (ICANN) press conference are 10 that were submitted by a group of Kansas City entrepreneurs.
DOT Registry, a Kansas City, Mo. company founded in October 2011 for the purpose of participating in this new "internet land grab," applied for .inc, .llc, .llp and .corp. The group also formed four other entities to apply for six more domains: .uno, .auto, .food, .help, .tech and .ltd.
The opportunity being pursued by the group is the result of ICANN's 2011 decision to open applications for generic top-level domains (gTLDs). Plenty of others are also jumping at the chance. For example, Google has applied for 101 gTLDs, such as .gmail and .lol (yes, "LOL"). Amazon has applied for 76, such as .book and .buy. Others applied for everything from .health to .beer.
For Jolles, the aim is specific. DOT Registry intends to serve the nation's small business community; 65 percent of those businesses, Jolles said, are not online.
"The bottom line," Jolles said in a phone call Wednesday, "every single domain will be able to link to the actual certificate from the respective secretary of state." He said his group has worked closely with the offices of numerous secretaries of state to develop future registration policies ensure each registrant is a legitimate U.S. business.
"So every single person who goes to an .inc or .llc site will be able to see that the company's actually a U.S. company, where they are, where they organized themselves, who's the secretary of state — credibility and sophistication that does just not exist on the internet today," Jolles said.
For example, Jolles would move his website from officeportnetwork.com to officport.llc, a move he envisions others would make, as well. The application for one of these gTLDs would require a majority of the business' registered name to be in the new domain.
The price of an ICANN application for each gTLD is $185,000, which means DOT Registry spent nearly $2 million on its 10 applications. Jolles said that cost was covered by the group's partners.
If DOT Registery's applications are accepted, it plans to sell the gTLDs through a registrar for $75-$100 per year. The potential market, Jolles said, is unlimited. "There is a really big upside," he said. "Even if we're going after a community and reducing our target market, there's still a big upside."
And if the application isn't accepted? Jolles, who is working on a full-time basis for DOT Registry, has a back-up plan.
"Now that we got into the business of corporate registration, there will probably be a lot of other things we can do with DOT Registry," Jolles said. "We know a lot more about the market and organizing a company. There are some other applications we are considering going after that have nothing to do with domain names but more on the registration business. We'll see; we have a lot of smart, smart people on the team."
Jolles is optimistic about the applications and says he's going to continue building his new business with hope of offering the new domains at the start of 2013. "There's a lot of work to be done, a lot of systems that need to be built," he said. "The fun just begins now."
Credits: Photo by Annie Sorensen