Archive for the ‘Domain Names’ Category

Squat that domain, squat it good.

June 24, 2008

So in the throes of finding an exceptionally excellent name for our product, we have been trawling domain names fairly extensively. This is one of the most frustrating processes that I have ever undertaken, simply due to the blight of domain squatters slaughtering the quest to be able to find that perfect name, describing both what we are building and the values that we are bringing to the table.

Domain squatters take it upon themselves to purchase domain names in bulk, combining either words or misspellings of common words and brands, and buying the .com domain at least – often when registration of such a name lapses. Then they hold these, displaying links to feed traffic off to other “search portals” like itself, or generate revenue through cost-per-click “sponsored listings” from third-party providers. Apple were clever enough to buy www.aplpe.com, however they didn’t quite catch http://www.appl.com in time (no way do I want to link to icky-yucky pages like that).

Three key problems here:

  1. Some internet users who are slightly less savvy may believe that these “Search Portals” will actually lead them to the information they seek, whereas they at the very least will send them in a frustrating loop; reducing the positive user experience of the internet internet for that user
  2. Legitimate start-up companies are forced to second guess every name due to domain squatters turning gold into a dirty ol’ link farm
  3. Existing brands whose value is damaged by visitors being sent to a pop-up ridden search portal due to a mis-type. This has got to have an impact on brand perception, no matter how small. But not relevant to us. Yet.

Many of these companies of course offer these domain names for sale; this is one of their revenue models. For example, the owners behind appl.com would be making a fair bit of money should Apple decide that they must purchase this domain – having said that they probably make a bit of money off the ads clicked by visitors. So a win-win then.

A startup is not able to afford the massive sums that these squatters ask for. We hit upon a name, a moderately good name, and saw it was squatted upon like so many… I’ll leave that one there. Clicking the “Enquire about purchasing this domain” presented the information that the minimum offer was $500 US. So hey why not give it a shot? Surely it would be near the mark; this was no weddingshoes.com.

The reply came back and said the selling price was $10,000 US. For a moderately good domain name. Sure, please take away a substantial chunk of our hard-saved seed capital for what is only a moderately good domain name. Please do.

So why don’t we go for a .net or a .info? Aside from the grotty Microsoft connotations of the former, most people will “default” to a .com and we wouldn’t want people to end up at a link farm in trying to get to our site. But more on this later.

So for now, we’ll keep right on searching and cursing.