About 600,000 .co domains have been registered after nearly four months of availability. While that is paltry compared with some 90 million .com addresses spoken for already, the new domain is proving to be popular with startup entrepreneurs.
One San Francisco-based entrepreneur, who’s starting a travel-related site and is pitching angel investors to raise capital, told me that the .com domain she wanted was already taken. The domain owners wanted $80,000 to sell it to her.
“I’m in the middle of starting VC and angel funding pitches and including $80,000 in the financial plan looks ridiculous,” she told me.
So the budding online travel entrepreneur bought the .co version of her company name instead.
“The new domain has an edge to it that .com doesn’t,” she says. “It looks sexier and cooler, and it’s a lot cheaper than haggling for an existing .com domain.”
Naval Ravikant, an angel investor and an early investor in Twitter, says that the registry is here to stay. Ravikant says he encourages all startups to register using the .co domain. And he recommended to Twitter that it register the t.co domain for its URL shortening service.
“All of the good .coms are gone,” Naval told me. “Even the short misspellings are running out. It’s not unusual to see a raw startup with $250,000 or $500,000 in funding having to shell out $25,000 to $100,000 for a serviceable .com domain name.”
As I previously reported, to keep squatters from gobbling up prized domains, Miami-based .CO Internet S.A.S., the registry operator for the .co domain that rolled out July 20 as a replacement URL for .com, is doing its best to legitimize registrants of well-known trademarks and company names.
Also, .CO Internet has recently sold certain domains (such as vehicles.co, shipping.co and signs.co, among others) through auction. Of course, that’s bad news for some who want to be the next Gary Kremen, the entrepreneur who started the dating site Match.com and bought the rights to several .com domains in the early days of the Internet, including sex.com, which he later sold for a reported $12 million.
“Every domain launch in history has been focused on by domain investors,” says Lori Anne Wardi, director of .CO Internet. “But we’re pricing the .co domain high so the person with the greatest use would buy it or win it in auction.”
On Monday afternoon, .CO Internet announced at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco that the highly coveted single-letter domain name, i.co will soon be put on the auction block.
“As one of the shortest possible URLs in the world, and featuring the most popular single letter in the alphabet, the i.co domain is likely to be one of the most valuable pieces of online real estate ever available,” said Juan Diego Calle, CEO and co-founder of .CO Internet in a prepared release.
No doubt, i.co will sell for big bucks. And I expect more entrepreneurs, as they are exposed to the .co domain, will clamor for new registrations because there are fewer and fewer .com names left.