New Domain Rolls Out, Squatters Need Not Apply for

The .co domain rolls out today (July 20) as a replacement URL for .com. And startup execs and investors, such as Tim Draper, among others, are tickled pink that new tech companies will have a range of credible and easily recognizable domain names that fit their online business or branding needs.

As one person said to me: “It’s nearly impossible for anyone to secure a marketable .com for their company, so they wind up with ‘,’ which can impact credibility, sales, brand recognition and retention.”

Absolutely, says Chris McCann, co-founder of Startup Digest in Palo Alto, Calif., and organizer of Geeks on a Plane.

McCann says that the domain was taken, by a squatter, so his organization instead registered

“For a startup, the choices you have are to come up with a name no one has, the effect, is to pay off a squatter to secure a domain name or use a different extension, such as .net .org .cn,” McCann says. “Yes, available .com domains are definitely a problem for new and old companies, but at least for now it is the standard. It will be interesting to see if .co does get taken up as a real secondary choice.”

Yes, whether .co catches on remains to be seen. But Miami-based .CO Internet S.A.S., the registry operator for the .co domain, has been marketing the heck out .co since the new domain was announced in February. The organization reports that more than 39,000 applications have already been filed during a “Landrush” phase in which those wishing to secure early access to a .co domain name were able to do. More than 2,500 applications are scheduled to be settled at auction over the next several weeks.

Among those who have already registered for a new domain is the real-time Twitter search engine Chainn Search–not to be confused with the automotive tire company Chain Search–which has registered Also,, a DFJ Frontier investment, is now at

Supporters say that .co, once the Internet domain of Colombia, is a good replacement for .com, unlike, say, .biz or .org, because it’s similar to .com and “co.” is recognizable as an abbreviation for “company.”

Among those involved with the effort is Naval Ravikant, founder of Epinions and a Silicon Valley-area angel investor who has backed Twitter, Foursquare and Y Combinator.

Ravikant says that .co will be great for URL shortening. He also emphasizes that .CO Internet is doing its best to legitimize registrants so that squatters don’t take hold of well-known trademarks.

Accredited sellers of the domain include,, Network Solutions, eNom, InternetX, Dotster, Melbourne IT, OpenSRS,, and Dominio Amigo.

“For all intents and purposes, the .com reservoir is empty of meaningful domains,” says Draper, co-founder and managing partner of Draper Fisher Jurvetson.  “It’s a constant struggle, especially for startups, to find a credible domain name that best describes their business or product.  For years, many companies have been forced to name their company based on what URLs were available, and then spend millions of dollars to educate their world that names like Afloxis, Bivly or Zoopr really stand for something else.”