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The Non-Dotcom Bubble: The World’s Most Popular Startup Domains Other Than .Com

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.com is still the king of suffixes. But startups are also flocking to other domains, including .io.

Download the Q2 2015 Global Venture Capital Report

In a recent essay, Paul Graham recommended that startups should own their .com domain name or risk being considered marginal or weak. However, .com domains can be very expensive, especially for younger startups. We used the CB Insights database to analyze the trends in startup domain suffixes over time, such as the rise of the .io suffix.

Traditional .com domains still dominate amongst the more than 25,000 tech companies funded since 2010, with 20,000+ companies choosing a .com domain for a 81% share of all suffixes.

But other domain suffixes are also popular. These include .net and .co domains, which proved to be the most popular, followed by .io which saw nearly 350 funded tech companies choosing that domain. After the top 3, the list is populated mostly by more geography-specific domains such as .de (Germany), .cn (China), and .jp (Japan). Also, .tv has been used by more than 100 companies, including well-known services Twitch.tv, blip.tv, and acfun.tv. The .ly domain, often considered  a go-to suffix for Silicon Valley startups, isn’t really all that popular.

Most Popular Suffixes

With a flurry of new domains having been made available by ICANN recently starting in 2014, startups will increasingly seize the opportunity and flock to alternative domain suffixes. But many of the newest suffixes like .global are not showing up on the radar just yet.

Top non-dotcom suffixes

Among the top URLs, some have seen more growth than others in recent years.

  • The .co domain saw the largest spike, with a 93% jump in the number of new companies being funded with that domain suffix between 2013 and 2014.
  • Both .io and .in have seen steady growth, and have already reached all time highs in 2015 in terms of registrations for funded companies.
  • .net domains, while having the most funded tech companies in total since 2010 (after .com), has slowed significantly in growth, with only 61 companies being funded with that domain name through mid-August 2015.

URL popularity by year

Unique suffixes per year

The number of unique domain suffixes attached to startups in a given year saw a significant jump between 2011 and 2012. There were 116 separate domain suffixes used by startups this year through mid-August 2015, almost double the amount in full-year 2010.

Unique URLs by Year

New suffixes

It’s not uncommon to see new domain suffixes pop up when looking at startups receiving funding (i.e., suffixes that have never been attached to a tech startup before). Below are select new domain suffixes that have been funded recently as well as the companies attached to them. In 2015, we saw new startups with .soy and .world suffixes. Some are country-level geographic suffixes, e.g. .dj is Djibouti.

Select Newly Funded Domain Suffixes
Year Suffix Select Companies
2012 .global, .om, .gg, .pro bluedot.globalpinion.ggbad.gycpac.pro
2013 .dj, .ae, .bi, .sr plug.dj, propertyfinder.ae, bbs.bi, hairdres.sr
2014 .limo, .life, .works, .today loup.limo, league.life, weave.works, celuv.today
2015 YTD .ventures, .world, .soy, .pictures entangled.ventures, myeye.world, bevisible.soy, folio.pictures

 

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Identity management service Telnic, which runs the .tel domain, announced on Tuesday that registering for a .tel domain has gone from its initial “land rush” phase into general availability.

Tens of thousands of domains have been sold so far, communications director Justin Hayward told CNET News, and the company will be having a launch event on Tuesday evening in New York to start spreading the word.

Telnic is sort of hoping that a .tel URL will become the online equivalent of a business card or, as Hayward put it, “one permanent point of contact, a bit like a telephone number.” A .tel domain aggregates a list of chosen contact points–Web site, e-mail, telephone, social-network profiles, location data, etc.–and aims to be both flexible (if your telephone number changes when you go from one country to another, for example) and ironclad when it comes to privacy controls.

In conjunction, the London-based Telnic has announced that News Corp.-owned social network MySpace is now a .tel vendor and that MySpace users can purchase .tel domains directly for $19.99 per year, starting on Wednesday. This is part of .tel’s strategy to make its domain-purchasing process more consumer-friendly than the norm.

“We’re delighted that MySpace will be offering .tel domains to its community, enabling them to more quickly and easily manage all aspects of their online life,” Telnic CEO Khashayar Mahdavi said in a release. “MySpace is exactly the type of partner that has the foresight to see the .tel (domain) as a complementary product, providing choices as social networkers adopt new modes of communication while they continue to enjoy the benefits of MySpace.”

The .tel domain originally launched at the Demo conference last September. Right now, one of the most promising opportunities for the space is on the mobile front–using these electronic records as a way to exchange contact information in a meet-and-greet context.

A lot of this will depend on third-party developer activity (think iPhone applications). But Hayward said one of .tel’s resellers, IWantMyName.com, can enable prospective users to complete the registration process entirely on an iPhone.

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The new top-level domain .tel began the go-live process on March 6. Unlike older domain iterations, .tel is not designed for hosting conventional Web sites. Instead, it uses the domain name system to store and transmit contact information that domain holders customize for content, keywords and privacy.

Here we examine how .tel will revolutionize social media and extend social networking features to cellular telephone networks. We also look at how .tel provides directory services and supports unified communication platforms.

The new .tel domain is not meant to replace or compete with older domain name extensions. Nor is it designed to provide an identity system for financial institutions.

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The new domain uses the domain name system to store and communicate contact data and associated keywords. These contact records will create the world’s largest directory of businesses and individuals, supported by privacy features that allow access to some or all contact information to be kept accessible only to those who have been granted permission by the record holder.

The privacy features of .tel adopt the “friending” principles of social networking Web sites without competing with instant message systems such as Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) More about Yahoo Messenger, Live Messenger, Jabber, Skype More about Skype or the micro-blogging platforms Twitter More about Twitter and Identi.ca. Instead, .tel will facilitate messaging and social network platforms by providing a neutral identity management tool that any platform or service can access.

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You might think that the last thing the internet needs is another top-level domain. Website owners can already choose between more than 200 possible endings for their internet addresses, ranging from the familiar .com to the exotic .xn-zckzah. But starting today, anyone in the world will be able to buy a domain ending in .tel – and the company selling them is convinced they will help to make the internet easier to navigate, not less.

Telnic, the UK firm that invented the .tel domain, says it will offer a kind of “phone book for the internet”. The owners of .tel domains will not be able to upload and maintain web pages, as they can for other top-level domains (TLDs) – they will only be able to store contact details such as names, telephone numbers, web and email addresses.

A demonstration profile at emma.tel offers a taste of what .tel offers. Visitors are presented with details including Emma’s full name, street address, email address, Skype details and location. All those details can be updated instantly at any time.

Subdomains of a single .tel domain can be used to maintain separate profiles: for example, the demonstration site for Henri Asseily maintains separate profiles for his gaming and social activities. And users can make some of their information private, granting access only to people that they have given “friend” status.

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