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Given the recent announcement by LeWeb to rebrand to .CO, and the subsequent comments we received, I want to reaffirm, once again, our stance with regards to domainers: domain investors and cybersquatters.
Let me start with this: Apart from running .CO, I've been open about the fact that my other company owns one of the best online travel domain portfolios in the world. It includes sites such as ParisHotels.com, MiamiHotels.com, NewYorkHotels.com, LondonHotels.com, and many more. In fact, I consider myself a domainer - a domain investor, that is.
But there is an aspect in the world of domaining that sucks: it's called cybersquatting. The reality is cybersquatting makes our industry look bad. I hate to break it to you, but the entire internet ecosystem thinks cybersquatters are the scum of the earth... no... the stuff that lives below the scum! Cybersquatters add no value to the internet. They profit from other peoples' brands and hard work.
At .CO we try hard to make a clear distinction between legitimate domain investors and cybersquatters. Unfortunately, that doesn't always come through and that message gets lost in the nuances when you use the broader term domainer. But in fact, we appreciate the business we get from that side of the business. That's why we sponsor some of the industry events, blogs, and generally have a great relationship with the community.
So if you're a domain investor, we welcome your business. Count on us to continue working hard to build .CO into a global brand, synonymous with opportunity and innovation.
But, if you're a cybersquatter, or even a mass speculator, leveraging technology to register thousands of names*, please do so in someone else's backyard.
UPDATE: MAY 11, 2012
* "Mass Speculator, leveraging technology to register thousands of names", refers to the practice of using algorithms that register domain names for the purpose of domain tasting, front-running, and/or warehousing, typically triggered by current events, product announcements, company/corporate registrations, etc. Because these are fully automated systems that are not human filtered, a great number of names that get registered in this manner fall under the definition of cybersquatting. At .CO, we believe mass speculation of this nature is highly toxic to the registry and its potential for success.
To be clear, that is completely different from domainers with large portfolios of generic domain names. We have a number of customers in that business and appreciate their alignment with our goals. Any domain investor who has invested in .CO for the long-term and truly cares about the ROI of his/her investment will no doubt appreciate the fact that we are more focused on creating long-term value by inspiring real end-users to build and develop the .CO space -- than we are on taking quick, short-term profits from domain names with low renewal probability.