This is a guest post by Ray King the CEO of Top Level Design, a new domain registry behind the new gTLD’s .Design, .Wiki and .ink. Mr. King has also founded Semaphore, Inc, SnapNames, Inc, AboutUs, Inc. and ICANNWiki (501c3).
The post appears here unedited:
We at Top Level Design believe that .design had the most successful launch of any generic new TLD to date. Not only that, I think we are well on our way to proving that a new TLD can justify a premium cost when it offers better, more meaningful domains than the generic legacy options.
For some this may seem like a bold statement — so let me explain our enthusiasm: While there are many metrics to success, I’m looking at overall registry revenue. Our base wholesale pricing is $33; about 4x that of standard .com or .club name. But 450 .design names have sold at premium renewal rates ranging from $100 to $5,000 / year wholesale, so while we didn’t have the door-busting number of registrations that some others have had, our average annual revenue per name sold in General Availability is north of $60.
In my opinion all of the cheap and free domain names being given away effectively declare that new extensions are not as valuable as .com or .net. It is a perplexing strategy and not the way to topple .com. Creating volume for volume’s sake was never our goal. Our goal was success through quality registrations and websites in a meaningful and valued TLD.
We believe that the promise of the new TLD program was two fold: 1) shorter, better and brandable domain names, and 2) semantic meaning at the top level. Our .design domains mean something and that is valuable!
Our success was made possible by the interest in our premium names. We did not withhold one character domains. We had the fortuitous timing of a long-delayed ICANN process to have access to our 2 character domains, and we refrained from sitting on them, opting instead to release them immediately at launch. We have 5 premium tiers, and have seen good traction at all levels. These prices are user-friendly; most folks understand why Smith.design is a premium but AngelaSmith.design is available at the base tier.
We will all continue to debate about what makes a successful TLD but in my view it boils down to public esteem. Is the public willing to build a new site on your TLD or move rather than redirect? Are they not only willing to pay for the domain, but pay a premium? I think the way to win the public’s appreciation is straightforward: provide a meaningful TLD at a fair and reasonable price to encourage higher quality sites. Great sites then beget more great sites and you have a virtuous circle. And here’s why I really love .design — designers build great sites!
And speaking of designers building great sites, just days after the launch of .design there are already a bunch of live sites. Here is a list of 50 live .design sites.