Amazon, Microsoft join Donuts in Web Name Race: .book, .xbox, .shop

6/13/12Follow @curtwoodward

Seattle-area domain-name company Donuts Inc., which raised more than $100 million to amass new Internet domains, faces some heavy competition in the race for fresh digital territory. But it also stands to own some valuable chunks of new Web real estate without a bidding war, including .email and .games.

That became clear Wednesday morning when the organization in charge of assigning Web addresses released the full list of new top-level domains being sought by hundreds of bidders. Those are the words that appear directly to the right of the “dot” in Web addresses, and until now, there have only been 22 variations: .com, .net, .edu, and so on.

That is changing quite drastically. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is overseeing the largest-ever expansion of basic Web addresses by opening up the dot-space to just about any word one can think of.

For the first time, the organization also is allowing words in languages that don’t follow a Latin-based alphabet, including Chinese and Russian.

Bellevue, WA-based Donuts, which was founded by veterans of the domain-name business, says the opening of so much new territory is the Web-address equivalent of the Louisiana Purchase. The applications for new domains have been under wraps until today, when ICANN revealed the full list online.

Joining domain-name professionals like Donuts in the land rush were venerable associations like the AARP and Better Business Bureau, major brands like L’Oreal and Macy’s, and major tech companies.

Amazon appears 77 times on the list, seeking domains such as .author, .book, .buy, .drive, .game, .kids, and .shop. Microsoft was a bit less ambitious in this race, applying for 23 domains that mostly tie back to its major brands and products, including .azure, .bing, .office, .windows, and .xbox.

Each application costs $185,000, and could wind up costing much more if the word is popular and ends up in an auction. That part of the process comes after ICANN conducts its own reviews on the proposed owners, to weed out unqualified bidders.

Donuts will probably be headed to some of those auctions. The privately held company is on the list for some of the most sought-after new top-level domains, including .app, .blog, .book, .casino, .inc, .love, .mail, .shop, and .web.

It’s also up against some major names in smaller competitions. Donuts and Major League Baseball are both seeking the rights to .baseball, and the startup also is competing against international sports body FIBA for .basketball. Donuts also is the only other bidder for .coach, alongside luxury goods brand Coach Inc.

Among the domains that Donuts could own outright, because there are no other bidders: .architect, .attorney, .bike, .business, .cash, .coffee, .credit, .creditcard, .dating, .email, .fail, .futbol, .games, .health, .healthcare, .hospital, .insurance, .lawyer, .pets, .shoes, .singles, .university, and .wtf

Donuts will be a wholesaler of top-level domains, supplying retail registrars such as GoDaddy or Network Solutions with access to domains that they can sell to others. Donuts’ small team is spread between the Seattle area, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. The startup’s CEO is Paul Stahura, a Bellevue entrepreneur who previously founded the domain-name retailer eNom. Donuts plans to have about 25 people on board in the next year or so.

Curt Woodward is a senior editor for Xconomy based in Boston. Email: cwoodward@xconomy.com Follow @curtwoodward

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