ICANN AND SO CAN YOU!

Are You People Really This Excited About Top-Level Domains?

We're not buying it.
donuts Are You People Really This Excited About Top Level Domains?

Also, the company’s name is Donuts. (flickr.com/montage_man)

At first, all the enthusiasm for top-level domains was fun and actually totally understandable. Some of them–many of them, even–make perfect sense. The city already has .NYC in the works, and the European Broadcasting Union has dibs on .eurovision. But things are starting to look a little, well, frothy. Google has applied for .youtube and .google. Fair enough. But the company also wants .lol, which invites massive speculation.

And now, according to the Wall Street Journal, a startup called Donuts has raised a whopping $100 million Series A, in the hopes of becoming the go-to registry for top-level domain names. CEO Paul Stahura tells the Journal the company has applied to run 307 domains. And before you ask why .com isn’t good enough, don’t worry, Mr. Stahura has an explanation: 

“Right now it’s difficult to find a good name, a memorable name in ‘.com,’” he said. “We will provide specificity and choice. If you’re a doctor, let’s say, you could get ‘.doctor.’ If you have a small cleaning business you might get ‘.cleaning.’”

And you don’t want to have to resort to a *used* domain name, do you?

Chief marketing officer of Donuts, Mason Cole, pointed out that in one recent domain name sale, PersonalLoans.com sold for $1 million. “That’s a lot to spend on a ‘used’ name,” he said, “What if the buyer had access to ‘personal.loans’ instead?”

If users have to sort through PersonalLoans.com and Personal.Loans and Loans.Personal and God knows what else just to find someone who’ll give them money, well, the Internet is about to get a whole lot more complicated and not in a good way, either. Maybe JoeSchmo.doctor looks snazzy, but we’re skeptical this will actually solve everyone’s discoverability problems.

So far, this sounds like nothing so much as digital vanity license plates.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com