Mmm...Donuts: Domain name company eyes a diverse Web

Domain name registry says $100 million in funding and 307 top level domain applications will cure .com ennui.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
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If the team at domain registry company Donuts has its way, Web users will be able to enjoy domain names as they do doughnuts -- for the variety.

The company announced today that multi-billion dollar private equity and venture funds are investing more than $100 million in capital to aid Donuts' quest for a more diverse Web. Donuts has applied for 307 top-level-domains or TLDs (the word to the right of the dot) that the company said will be more descriptive.

"The Internet is ready for some diversity," Mason Cole, Donuts' VP of communications and industry relations, said, adding that new extensions will give website owners a chance to be more expressive of what they are featuring on their site versus the over populated URLs like .com and .net.

The company practices what it preaches. Its own Web site rests at the new and trendy ".co" extension.

"We got into this not only for our own company's benefit, but because we've been in the domain business a long time and we've seen this first hand," Cole said.

Currently, unique or specific domain names are difficult to come by since there are only 22 generic extensions available, Cole said, and it's difficult to get the domain name you want.

"If you can do it, you're lucky," he said. "And if you can do it, you're more likely to go to the aftermarket and pay a premium for what you want."

The company is waiting for ICANN, the organization that oversees the assignment of domains, to reveal all TLD applicants and the TLD words they have applied for. ICANN plans to reveal the information on June 13, at which point companies will have to vie for any overlapping choices.

While snapping up TLDs is a popular trend right now -- Google just revealed that it has applied for a few, including .google, .docs, and .lol -- it isn't a cheap one. Owners have to pay $185,000 for the TLD plus $25,000 a year.

Donuts is counting on getting all of the 307 TLDs its applied for even with the hefty price tag.

"We resourced the company in a way that will allow us to get every TLD,"Cole said. "We have the resources to acquire everything we've applied for."

Although Cole wouldn't say what TLDs Donuts has applied for, he said the company is only aiming for generic words -- no specific brands or geographic terms. Some examples of these terms could be .doctor, .cleaning or .street. The 307 words, which also includes non-Latin language TLDs like Arabic or Chinese, were whittled down from a list of 3,000.

The company is a registry and acts like a wholesale entity for domain names, selling names to other companies like GoDaddy.com or eNom.com, that sell to the public. Additionally, Donuts has selected online publishing company Demand Media as its registry services provider.

Cole said the Donuts team, which is full of domain industry veterans, saw the registry route as the best way to help the web domain pool expand. Donuts' founders include eNom.com founder Paul Stahura and Richard Tindal, who was responsible for the launch of the .biz extension.

With all the powerhouses on the team, why are their visions of Internet diversity branded by a fried, fluffy pastry?

"The name evokes variety," Cole said. "Besides, everybody likes doughnuts."