404s and Heartbreak

Introducing Kanye West’s Possibly Fake But Definitely Bizarre New Startup, WhoDat.Biz [UPDATED]

'Ye pivots from Late Registration to domain registration.
picture 27 Introducing Kanye Wests Possibly Fake But Definitely Bizarre New Startup, WhoDat.Biz [UPDATED]

(dondamedia.com)

Have you ever thought, “Domain lookup tool Whois works well as a service, but I wish it had a little more SWAG?” Or perhaps, “I like Whois, but it just doesn’t yell at me in caps lock enough.” Luckily Kanye West has you covered, with the launch of his new startup, WhoDat.biz (no it’s seriously called that though).

WhoDat is essentially a domain owner lookup service, exactly like Whois.net–a well-known lookup site owned by Verio Inc.–but with bigger font and more unnecessary scrolling. You enter in a URL and it also uses the standard whois protocol to pull up the GoDaddy information for that registrant. It’s the “Facebook of Websites,” guys.

Mr. West originally announced the creation of Donda Media, the company behind WhoDat, on his Twitter feed back in January. “DONDA is a design company which will galvanize amazing thinkers and put them in a creative space to bounce there[sic] dreams and ideas,” he tweeted.

Unsurprisingly, WhoDat has received some scathing reactions. Gizmodo called it insane. Famed blogger Anil Dash sarcastically tweeted, “Hoping that @DondaMedia follows up the amazing http://WHODAT.BIZ with http://WHATDAIPADDRESS.INFO to give me the details on my IP address!” The sarcasm was apparently lost on Donda Media, which immediately retweeted it.

Perhaps in response to the backlash, Donda posted an animated .gif of Mr. West to their Tumblr with the text, “Haters give me them salty looks.” Our apologies, sir.

If the entire goal of WhoDat was to capture the attention of the Internet for all of five minutes, it certainly worked.

“Every generation gets the whois service it deserves,” tweeted artist Mike Monteiro. We brought this on ourselves, people. And there’s no going back.

UPDATE: We’re skeptical that this is an official Kanye/Donda business venture. Though Donda is indeed a real entity, Kanye himself hasn’t tweeted to confirm WhoDat.Biz is a part of Donda. As Steve Spillman of GroupMe tweeted, “u know i love you guys but that is the fakest possible attempt at pretending to be donda.” We can’t disagree. We’ve reached out to Donda and will update if and when they get back to us. An auto-response email from the company reads, “Thank you for reaching out! Your email will be reviewed in a timely manner.”

UPDATE 2: Read about the men who orchestrated this whole hoax here.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com