Missed our .ORG Webinar? We’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find a recording of the live presentation as well as links to the downloadable .ORG Toolkit and Webinar PDF.
Watch the .ORG Webinar
As of this month, our parent company, Tucows, has officially been in the domains business for 20 years. They introduced OpenSRS (Enom’s then-rival, now-sister company) in 2000, not long after Enom was born. Tucows lifers share a lot of nostalgia for this era; though Tucows has grown to become the largest wholesale registrar and ventured successfully into Fibre Internet and Mobile, a unique fondness for OpenSRS’ early years remains. So what made those early years so cool? Michael Goldstein, Director of Marketing at the time, laid it out for us:
I am intentionally googling none of my recollections about the early days of OpenSRS so they will almost certainly be romanticized, exaggerated or just plain wrong. A few themes jump out at me.
In a little corner of the world, Network Solutions was an evil empire. A government-sanctioned monopoly was getting fat and greedy and the product that they controlled (domain names) was quickly becoming more crucial to many millions more end-users around the globe. The channel (Web hosts, ISPs, IT consultants) was overcharged and underappreciated. We believed so strongly that these managed service providers (as we liked to call them at the time) knew the end users best and would take the best care of them if they just got the tools and pricing they needed.
It was fun to be a hero to that very narrow target. It was fun to offer a 70% price break from what Network Solutions was charging. It was fun to witness hypergrowth. In fact, you could argue that our unspoken tagline, “OpenSRS, we’re not Network Solutions!” was so successful, Tucows has really just imitated that same model and re-lived that sort of revolution again and again. Hover, we’re not GoDaddy! Ting, we’re not AT&T or Comcast!
When trends and forces are all delivering customers to your doorstep, it’s pretty easy to think you are clever. We ran magazine ads that said, “You can get a lesser product, lousy service and a bad attitude. But it’ll cost 3 times more.” (Oh, fun fact! Andy Berndt, the guy who wrote that ad for us as a freelance copywriter, is now in charge of all creative output at Google as founder and Managing Director of their internal Creative Lab. He also played Duke basketball for a season as a walk on.)
We built the .MOO top-level domain to demonstrate our registry management solution. I also personally gave away two cows at ISPCon in San Diego to celebrate our two-millionth (I think!) domain name registration. The prize was actually a choice between two cows, a year supply of milk or the cash equivalent. We bet heavily on the winner taking the cash.
I rented the cows from a nearby dairy farmer for just one hour and paraded them across the plaza outside the conference center to chants of Who Let The Cows Out! (If that reference isn’t immediately familiar to you, I’m not going to explain it.) If I remember right, we intended to also highlight the winning registered domain name in our promotional materials and media outreach but chose not to because it was pretty shockingly pornographic (like the thousand domains registered before and after it). Good times.
Everything we did was done to quickly solve a problem or seize an opportunity. We listened well. We hustled. But we never expected that we would be using the things we built twenty years later. We certainly never imagined that we would eventually acquire and integrate half the other challengers that launched at the same time we did. Now we’re all growneded up. We are building an integrated platform that can accommodate over 25 million domain names and over 40,000 managed service providers (or whatever we call them these days) around the world. We proudly offer a huge selection of TLDs, from .ABOGADO to .ZONE. We talk about scale and efficiency. We brainstorm and measure site usability. I think we ultimately do a better job for our customers today than we did back then. I don’t think we’ll ever be quite as cool .
Founded in 1999 by two students offering web-design services, Hostnet has grown into one of the largest and most customer-friendly hosting providers in the Netherlands. Today, they offer domain names, website hosting, a website builder, and other business services to a growing number of customers. Since 2000, they’ve used Tucows to power domain registrations and management for a large part of their business.
Here’s a snapshot of our conversation with Bas Schouten, Product Manager (Domains), Hostnet BV. We touch on Hostnet’s successful journey and how their partnership with Tucows (Enom’s parent company) has helped them create value for end-customers and capture growing business opportunities.
In the beginning, Hostnet was selling hosting and domain names from an attic. This was back in the days when customers placed their orders via fax. Needless to say, it involved a lot of manual work. A lot has changed over the years. For one thing, orders are no longer sent via fax, but via the Hostnet webshop. Requesting and registering a domain name is now automatic. But we’ve also expanded our product offering. In addition to hosting and domain names, we’ve added solutions such as email, Microsoft Office 365, and various other Managed Services.
In 20 years we have become one of the largest and most customer-friendly hosting providers in the Netherlands. During this time, we grew to a 50-person, then 100-person company. Along the way, there have been milestones in the number of registered domains and active hosting packages we have under management.
Hostnet has been a Tucows reseller since 2000—nearly 20 years. Tucows is our valued partner in areas such as domain registration and SSL certificates. By working together with Tucows, Hostnet has been able to offer registrations under multiple top-level domains (TLDs) since 2000. Tucows also helped us effectively expand our top-level domain offering when the new TLDs became available, starting in 2014.
With the right marketing, new top-level domains can be the biggest opportunity (growth rate wise) at this time, which is great. I think, in general, customers like new domains, although there are many new extensions that are just too long/niche to be actively used. The beauty of new extensions such as .SITE, .ONLINE and .TECH—all of which are popular in the Netherlands—is that domains in these zones are so valuable when the more traditional options (like .NL or .COM) are already taken. This has already begun to happen to a large extent.
I’d say .ONLINE and .SITE are quite popular in the Netherlands. In fact, .ONLINE is currently Hostnet’s best performing new domain extension and tops the charts in terms of sales volume and growth rate. I believe that .ONLINE is the largest new extension in the Netherlands.
With the eCommerce market booming, we are also seeing a good uptake for .STORE, with live websites from our customers growing consistently on this extension.
Other than that, .NL and .COM are well-known in this region.
We have made the most of Tucows’ promotions mostly by reducing the pricing to our customers for those TLDs, in some cases paired with marketing initiatives such as Social Media posts or mentions in newsletters. In addition, some registry partners, such as Radix, consistently put forth content that has helped us keep the offers fresh and exciting for our customers. These efforts, in most cases, contributed to a significant rise in sales.
My recommendations would definitely include .ONLINE, .STORE, .SITE, .SHOP and .APP. All of these are great TLDs. .ONLINE and .SITE are more generic, while the other three clearly state what they’re used for.
New extensions definitely offer a lot more options to choose from and allow people to register a domain that may be unavailable under the more conventional .NL and .COM TLDs. More importantly, new domain extensions are an opportunity to state more clearly what your website or product is all about.
I am most proud of the exceptional service we provide to our customers. We’re professionals who are reachable by phone, chat, and email most of the week and are committed to assisting our customers with any problem, as thoroughly as possible. Hostnet is definitely a customer-first business and that has significantly contributed to our growth and success over the last two decades.
This post was sponsored by Radix. Many of their TLDs, including the super popular .ONLINE, .STORE, and .TECH are on sale now through Enom. Learn more.