By Tony Kirsch
14 July 2015
An excerpt of this interview first appeared in the Domain Name Association’s (DNA) ‘State of the Domains’ Report, Edition 3 – June 2015. Access the full report on the DNA’s website.
This is the third in a series of interviews I conducted with notable TLD applicants approaching one year of operations. In this article, I spoke with Statton Hammock of Rightside about how the .rocks TLD is finding its place in the market. You can also read my interviews with .luxury and .photography.
What have been some of the highlights of the process so far?
Statton Hammock, V.P. Business and Legal Affairs, Rightside: Without a doubt, the highlight has been seeing consumers embrace and use our TLDs in fun innovative ways, such as the Rolling Stones running a tour campaign on justakissaway.rocks. Seeing all of the exciting and creative ways people identify and brand themselves online with our TLDs has been thoroughly rewarding for everyone at Rightside. We had anticipated that consumers would register and use our domain offerings and it’s wonderful to watch this happen, week after week.
What was one of the key challenges you faced and how did you overcome this?
Statton: A key challenge for Rightside was trying to build its new Registry business while being subject to constant ICANN delays and policy changes. Hiring personnel, managing accounts, and making technical changes to a platform is difficult enough under regular circumstances, but with repeated delays in the new gTLD program being thrown at us, it made the work that much more challenging. When there’s uncertainty around when you can launch your business, it’s extremely difficult to make hiring decisions and execute on your company’s strategic plans.
Was there a moment when things ‘clicked’ for you?
Statton: I think everything ‘clicked’ when we saw Guy Kawasaki tweet about “not.com” when he announced his new book on artof.social. Or perhaps when young rockers, V-Squared, gave a live red carpet interview in which they referred the interviewer to their website on vsquared.rocks, saying “Not.com”. The V-Squared boys’ adoption of .rocks was an illustration of how the younger generation, one without a .combias, would choose a more meaningful TLD like a .rocks to showcase their musical talent.
What is one thing you wish you had known going into the process?
Statton: I think everyone in the domain name industry wishes they had known how long the gTLD process was going to take – from filing the application, to final launch. It’s been a long and challenging path but we are nearing the end of it and the real fun is beginning. There is no more exciting time for the domain name industry than right now, and Rightside is committed to making every one of its TLDs a success.
What will be the main challenges and areas of focus for the next year of your TLD?
Statton: The main focus of Rightside for the remainder of this year will be to resolve our remaining contention sets and complete our portfolio of domain names (we are currently at 39). But another challenge will be raising consumer awareness about new gTLDs and developing creative marketing efforts so that people will learn that they can now get a more memorable and descriptive domain name. The domain name industry as a whole also needs to do a better job at driving awareness and education.