Google's new mom, Alphabet, has sent the domain name world into a frenzy following its decision to set up home at the online address abc.xyz.
But behind the decision lies a deeper truth: Larry Page, as Google CEO, wanted his search giant to go big on new dot-word domain names – like .book or .computer – but was stymied by suits who didn't want to invest the money.
That frustration is reflected in the decision to restructure Google under Alphabet, with Page now at the helm of the latter. The move has separated the search and ads side of the business (which brings in all the money) from the more experimental and innovative arms of the business that Page and his cofounder pal Sergey Brin are so fond of. It ensures they can continue to spend Google's profits on their fun sidelines.
In 2012, Google applied for the rights to own and operate no fewer than 101 new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), paying $185,000 a piece. The applications covered everything from the obvious (.google, .gmail) to the useful (.docs, .cloud) to the plain odd (.boo, .foo). The number made it the second largest applicant behind Donuts, which raised $100m solely to apply for new gTLDs.
The Register has learned from Google staff that the large number came in direct response to Larry Page's insistence that the web giant "go big" on the gTLD expansion in line with his vision to place large bets on future prospects. (And in line with Google's plan to become, basically, the entire internet.)
Enough of that, Mr Page
But Page's dream was shot down when all the applications were made public, and nearly half of those it had applied for also attracted at least one other applicant. That meant it would require further investment to get hold of the names at auction or by some other agreement. The suits stepped in and Google's – and Larry's – big plan was boiled down to the company's brand names and those it has already applied for but was the only applicant.
Of the 101 names it applied for, Google ended up fighting for just four: .map, .app, .search, and .phd. It let 40 names go, including .cloud, .tech, .movie, .talk and many more. It even sold off its rights in the uncontested top-level domain .car.
And just to demonstrate that it could have won whatever domains it wanted, the one contested TLD that Google's managers decided they did want – .app – saw the company pay a record-breaking $25m to get hold of it. It was the largest single amount for any top-level domain and nearly four times the size of the next largest public auction ($6.7m for .tech).
Free from the shackles of the Google corporate machine, Larry's FU was to put the new company Alphabet on the domain name abc.xyz – something that exploded awareness of the new names in the general public.
CEO of .XYZ Daniel Negari couldn't believe his luck and was subsequently interviewed by a dozen media outlets, appearing on TV as well to talk up new internet dot-words, and claiming the "end of dot-com" (an approach which a few months earlier has earned him a lawsuit from dot-com operator Verisign).
Having seen the impact the simple move had, Google then registered another gTLD: abc.global, sparking another round of excitement.
The move has been leapt on by other new gTLD operators, who see an opportunity after very disappointing sales figures to date. Donuts' CMO hailed the coming of the "Not-Com revolution."
The Financial Times ran a story that highlighted that the back-end operator of .xyz CentralNic had seen its share price jump 26 per cent since Google's announcement. Wired, CNBC, and The Times joined the club. And dozens of blog posts have been hurriedly written by execs desperate to see some return on their investment and years of work.
The industry has for some time been trying to raise its profile, promoting every registration connected to celebrities like 50 Cent or Kanye West. The Domain Name Association also recently set up a "domains in the wild" listing in an effort to boost awareness.
But it turns out that the person who may finally get the ball rolling is the anti-corporate stance taken by the founder of one of the largest corporations in the world: Larry Page of Google. ®