For much of the Internet's history, top-level domains (TLDs) were few in number, but that has changed over the course of the past year as new generic TLDs (gTLDs) have emerged. TLDs are the naming suffix for Internet addresses and include dot-com (as in eWEEK.com), which recently turned 30 years old.
In 2012, there were only 22 TLDs; today there are more than 500, with new TLDs being added regularly. One of the biggest players in the gTLD space is Donuts Inc., which currently has 154 gTLDs available for general registration. Among the gTLDs operated by Donuts are .guru, .gallery, .technology, .careers and .email.
While the name of the company might sound whimsical, Donuts is a serious and well-funded effort. To date, Donuts has raised more than $100 million in capital to fuel its gTLD efforts. Helping to lead Donuts is Jon Nevett, co-founder and executive vice president of corporate affairs. Nevett is a domain industry veteran, and prior to Donuts, he served as president of Domain Dimensions, senior vice president at Network Solutions, and chairman of the board of NameJet and Central Registry Solutions.
"As more people become aware of the new top-level domains, we're in a great place to provide choices for them," Nevett told eWEEK. "I don't foresee any need for major fundraising in the immediate near future; we have the capacity and the sales and marketing in place."
For any new gTLD that becomes available, there is a staged process by which it is introduced into the market. The initial phase includes what is known as a sunrise period, where early access to registration is available for certain groups.
"There is a mandatory sunrise period for trademark holders, so for example, an HMO [health maintenance organization] with a trademark might get their name with a dot-doctor during the sunrise process," Nevett said. "Individual doctors that have trademarks for their practice could get the dot-doctor domain in the sunrise period as well."
Nevett said that in his experience, there has been a relatively low number of registrations during the sunrise period for Donuts TLDs. The reason is because Donuts offers trademark holders the ability to block names across all Donuts gTLDs for one price, instead of being required to register in each specific TLD.
Even in the general availability period, there is a list of names that are currently blocked due to an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) policy on something known as name collisions. A domain name collision occurs when a publicly reachable top-level domain has the same name as a privately addressable name on a company or carrier network. Nevett noted that some of the names identified as potential name collisions will be released in the coming months.
While there are a growing number TLDs now available for consumers to choose from, not all of the new domains that get registered are actually used for active Websites.
"We think of the new TLDs almost like vanity license plates. They give more semantic meaning and announce to the world what you're doing on the Internet," Nevett said. "We see a lot of usage with our TLDs, and as consumer awareness grows we expect usage will grow along with them."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.