June 2 marks the 1 year anniversary of .xyz going into General Availability. Wow. I can’t believe it’s been a year. I have been reflecting on the ups and downs of launching what has become the world’s largest and controversial new top level domain extension, and I was reminded of this quote by Gandhi, which describes the path that my team and I have taken:
“First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
When you think about it, the parallels between Gandhi’s famous quote and .xyz are real.
The internet has taken .xyz to a new level. We surpassed 900,000 registrations this month – less than 1 year after launching.
“First they ignore you”
I remember when I applied for .xyz, no one supported me – even my business partner was skeptical. But behind .xyz was the concept of Generation XYZ – the awareness strategy and community we have fostered for the next generation internet users. It is the driving concept behind a domain ending that is instinctive, natural, and just makes sense. .xyz is THE domain extension that transcends borders, because it’s used daily, worldwide, as a simple phrase that allows YOU to make XYZ whatever you want.
Prior to launch, people asked me how many registrations I was projecting, and I boldly predicted 1,000,000 domains by our 1 year anniversary. Many scoffed at my prediction and ignored our potential to be new go-to domain extension. A competing gTLD applicant even told me he would build a statue of me if I broke 100,000 .xyz registrations (still waiting for the delivery on that one, Colin).
Although there were a few believers, many registrars ignored me and competing applicants looked down on me.
Even the founder of Engadget tweeted on the day we launched:
Why would anyone buy a .xyz domain name? That’s the worst extension I’ve seen yet — I mean, .sucks is better!
— jason (@Jason) June 2, 2014
“Then they laugh at you”
Many prominent domainers laughed at me when I proclaimed .xyz as the next .com (FOR THE RECORD, THAT’S MY OPINION). But what many people from the .com-era forget is that .com was originally meant for commercial registrants, .net for networks, and .org for non-profit organizations. They all served specific purposes, but eventually became unrestricted due to demand for a generic TLD. As a result, Web 1.0 was dominated by .com.
By not investing, domainers and speculators are leaving great, valuable .xyz domains on the daily for members of Generation XYZ. My intention with .xyz has always been to put domains in the hands of the next generation of innovators, web designers, developers, and businesses who will use the domains. And that’s exactly what has been happening – individuals and businesses are leveraging .xyz to come online for the first time or rebrand their business to what they’ve always wanted. Let’s look at some of them:
So what do my team and I do to support the Generation XYZ community? We promote them in national interviews like Maria Bartiromo’s on Fox Business News, on local TV spots like NBC’s Press:Here, and in our weekly #WebsiteWednesday blog posts on gen.xyz.
“Then they fight you”
I set out to be the next .com, and I won’t give up until we are. But as many of you know, the 800-pound gorilla who ignored me and laughed at me is now fighting. They filed a federal lawsuit for, amongst other things, false advertising.
The market leader Verisign, better known for running .com, .net, and .tv, among others, is objecting to my company’s marketing and some things I said to an NPR reporter last year. What could I have possibly done to wake the sleeping giant? I explained .xyz’s strong value proposition, given that most of the consumer-friendly real estate in .com was taken. Verisign also claims that our traction in the market is falsely inflated because a domain retailer gave some free .xyz domains to its top customers.
They were also deeply offended by a 35-second video that showed a sleek black Audi R8 with an XYZ license plate pull up beside a spluttering old car with a COM license plate. The voiceover said “it’s impossible to find the domain name you want.” Sure it got some views, but it wasn’t exactly a viral sensation. Check it out for yourself below.
Verisign also attempted to bully me by claiming that I misrepresented the availability of short and memorable .com domains. I think most people who have searched for a domain recently would agree that finding the name they wanted in .com was challenging. I have heard from a number of the largest domain retailers around the world that it can be extremely difficult for their customers to register the domain they want. In fact, Hari Ravichandran, the CEO and Founder of Endurance International Group, was recently on Bloomberg stating “there is a real supply-side imbalance…If you go in and look for a particular domain, 8 out of 10 times you’re going to find that it’s not available.” Please see the 10 minute mark here.
Verisign now markets that “the number of possible .com domain names is over 10 to the 98th power,” “…including super-short domain names. Over 95% of .COM five character combinations are available and over 99% of six character combinations are available.” Try searching for the .com you want and see if it is available. Then try with .xyz.
The bottom line: it’s harder to claim short, memorable domain names ending in .com, and easier to do so on new domain extensions, like .xyz. That might seem obvious, considering .com has been around for 30 years and has over 117 million domain names registered, while .xyz and most other new extensions have only existed for 1 year or less.
This lawsuit is ultimately the 800-pound gorilla beating its chest, trying to litigate a competitor out of business. We’ve seen fledgling startups that are now huge companies in their own right — think Uber and even Apple — challenge the status quo or poke the industry bear at one point or another.
I’ll let the DomainGang poll results by speak for itself:
“Then you win.”
.xyz is for the next generation of internet users – the ones who are actively building their new online presence. And despite the ones who doubted, laughed at, and are fighting against .xyz, we are moving forward by providing the platform and naming choice for everyone. This is evident by the way Generation XYZ is reshaping the internet and building incredible value for themselves.
For my loves JuliaKelly.xyz @xyz I have some big surprises coming for you this week. Love you!
– Julia Kelly
“What we do as an organisation and our approach is a fairly unique model, and we wanted our URL to reflect this and help us stand out of the crowd. It has already been a talking point internally and externally! And that’s what we wanted, to get people talking about our brand.”
We love our .XYZ domain and more than anything, we think a .XYZ domain really shows just how the Internet is evolving for the better.
Cradle yourself in the lap of innovation. http://t.co/VfESL3VBhr
— Silicon Valley (@SiliconHBO) May 4, 2015
All of these active .xyz sites have led to us surpassing 2.5 billion monthly DNS queries. CentralNic notified me of this in January when we broke their reporting, which was limited to 32-bit integers. If this sounds familiar to anyone, that’s because the same thing happened to YouTube’s counter with the Gangnam Style music video. I am proud as hell of my team for raising awareness about .xyz and making this happen.
Will .xyz hit 1 million? At 903,000 registrations and a month left until our 1 year anniversary, we will all know soon enough.
The bottom line is that .xyz is here to stay for the greater benefit of the internet.
Thank you Team XYZ and Gen XYZ for making XYZ what it is today. I am committed to supporting XYZ and keeping the growth coming.