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Congress

Companies Bet Big on Domain Names

June 7, 2012

Despite the continued controversy, many companies are betting big on the success of a program to allow for the introduction of an unlimited number of new top-level Internet addresses.

Based on the more than 1,900 applications submitted to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, more than $350 million has been dedicated to the chance to offer users a top-level domain name that ends in such strings as .bank, .hotel or .baby. Those who want to operate a new top-level domain had to submit $185,000 for each name they seek to run to ICANN, the nonprofit that runs the Internet's domain name system.

They include Google, which announced last week that it had applied for several domain names including .Google, .Youtube, and .docs but hasn't revealed its full list of names.

Others betting big on the new domain names is a Bellevue, Wash.-based company called Donuts Inc. The company applied for 307 generic domain names at a cost of $56 million - about half the $100 million the company has raised from investors for its venture.

Donuts Inc. co-founder and Executive Vice President Dan Schindler told National Journal in an interview Thursday that his company believes there is pent-up demand for fresh second-level domain names given that 100 million names have already been registered in .com.

"Everybody knows you can't get a good .com" name, anymore Schindler said. The new domain name program is "about variety and choice."

The company has yet to reveal any of the names it has applied for but, Schindler expects he will be competing against others for some of the names. ICANN will reveal the full list of names that have been applied for next week.

Directi CEO Bhavin Turakhia already knows that he will be facing competition for at least two of the 31 names his company applied for, at a cost of $5.7 million. His company, which has committed $30 million to its domain name bet, has applied for such names as .blog, .hotel, . law, .music, shop and .website as well as .bank and .insurance. The last two strings are also being sought by a joint venture led by the American Bankers Association and the Financial Services Roundtable.

If more than one applicant seeks the same name, ICANN will encourage the two parties to negotiate an agreement and if that fails, the group will auction the name to the highest bidder.

Turakhia said in an interview that while the ABA and Roundtable know a lot about the banking business, his company has more than 12 years of experience running a technology company focused on the domain name industry. Who should get .bank "depends on which experience is more valuable," he said.

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