Paul Vixie on New gTLDs: “They Are All Commercial Failures”

ZDNet published an article with commentary from Dr. Paul Vixie, who offers a pretty scathing assessment of the new gTLD program. According to Paul Vixie’s Wikipedia page, Dr. Vixie is described as “an American Internet pioneer.” ZDNet described Dr. Vixie as “a pioneer of the internet’s domain name system (DNS).” Currently, Dr. Vixie is CEO of a company called Farsight Security.

Below is an excerpt from the article with comments from Mr. Vixie. I think it’s worth reading the article in its entirety when you have an opportunity.

“I think it is a money grab. My own view is that ICANN functions as a regulator, and that as a regulator it has been captured by the industry that they are regulating. I think that there was no end-user demand whatsoever for more so-called DNS extensions, [or] global generic top-level domains (gTLDs),” he said.

Vixie sees the demand for the new domains as having come from “the people who have the budget to send a lot of people to every ICANN meeting, and participate in every debate”, that is, the domain name registrars who simply want more names to sell, so they can make more money. But these new domains don’t seem to be working.

“They’re gradually rolling out, and they are all commercial failures,” Vixie said.

I personally don’t think they are all failures, but I also don’t think sales are as good as what some people may have expected before the new gTLD program launched. I would be very surprised if some existing registries could not be sold profitably, and that would seem to indicate that they are not all failures as the comments published in the article seems to indicate. Again, this is just an assumption on my part rather than fact.

It’s always interesting to read differing perspectives about things that involve domain names.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Whaaaaaaat? But paid domain bloggers everywhere are telling me .sdlfallwes is the next best thing! It’s just 10 characters. And there’s the story of the guy who got [some great name].sdlfallwes and build a site out of a $35 wordpress theme.

    On a non-sarcastic note, there’s so much hype and bullsh!t on gTLD’s coming from this industry, it’s embarrassing.

    • When it comes to the new extensions, I am not really an investor right now aside from a handful. However, I do think there are plenty of ways businesses can use them successfully. I also like observing the marketing behind them.

      As a domain industry blogger, I like reading about them and seeing how they are being used. It’s also interesting to read comments from readers.

  2. From the .CLUB gTLD perspective:

    Sunrise: failure
    Landrush: failure
    G.A. Launch: Modest success
    Premium: Success
    Momentum, Growth, and usage: Big Success

    A lot of what he says is true but there are exceptions and we think TLDs with “meaning” and especially “generics with meaning” will stand out as the winners in the end for both the gTLD operator and investors in those names.

    Short of .WEB, I can not see any TLD coming close to challenging .COM directly.


  3. Reality,

    If you don’t own the .COM, you don’t own your name. I spent the last 20 years believing this. And for the most part I was correct. Times are changing. New gTLDs offer great brandable names at a fraction of the price. I bought for a friend of mine who runs a dog toy business. It just works and I paid G.A. pricing. The fact is, new gTLDs are unleashing innovation and competition and help new entrepreneurs and other groups who never even thought of having a name like school clubs, bloggers, Meetup groups, Facebook groups etc. Today we have over 50,000 live sites (that are not parked) at .CLUB. We are in a paradigm shift and its ok to just discount it. That’s your prerogative, but there are times in history when things change for the better and I firmly believe this is one of them.

  4. I appreciate what Colin is writing here. He is forthcoming and truthful in his observations. He knows what areas his company has success and failure at. The truth is invaluable. .club is fighting a good fight but we must remember that for .com to ever take a back seat, there must be a reason for something to take its place. In my opinion, I don’t see that happening in the near future. Its either .com at the top of a robust name hierarchy or IPs for all. Let’s keep it creative and interesting.

  5. What other industry is able to create something digital from nothing and add as much inventory that they like to sell to anyone worldwide?

    Its a licence to print tons of cash by creating new TLDs since they sold over 100 million dot coms alone and now that the market is over saturated, why not just create a multitude of other extensions that they can sell to a whole new batch of domainers and businesses!

    Its absolutely brilliant business model to create extensions made from letters to sell to people who add other letters in front of them with a dot seperating them all those letters!

    Man what can you say about an industry that regulates itself and the players running it all are making millions hand over fist while the majority of the domain buyers will most likely make little profit in comparison.

    Of course there’s always the inner circle of domainers who will reap the profits along the way as it’s the nature of any business.

  6. Labeling every new gTLD a commercial failure is a highly inaccurate and incredibly lazy generalization that comes off as “Get off my damn lawn, kids!” Paul Vixie must miss the good ole’ days when .com had a monopoly on the domain space and didn’t have to worry about competing with marketing-friendly new extensions.

    Well whether he likes it or not, new extensions are here and forward-thinking companies like Google, Apple and Amazon are all buying into them. So if you’re betting on the future of the Internet…whose judgment are you going to trust: the grumpy old neighbor or the tech industry’s colossal trio?

  7. The new gTLDs need to invest more in public awareness.

    Three times now I have tried to tell someone to visit or share a site on a new gTLD. All three times they have literally said virtually the same exact statement, virtually word for word:

    “What, no .com or anything?”

    That might as well be the title of an article or blog post.

    I don’t want this to be like .US all over again. .US has been out for over 13 years now, and still the American public for all intents and purposes has no idea it even exists, and consequently nor do they care. If that’s what people want, then by all means do what Neustar has done all these years in being clearly de facto committed to a status quo like that. But I hope that’s not what people want and they’re willing to invest more in kindling the public awareness and desire. I’m already doing my part.

    The best of the new gTLDs are really great, so it would be a shame to see them sit lifeless the way .US has all these years.

  8. Wow. Such shallow thinking from a smart guy;

    No end user demand? I did very well without a mobile phone for a long long time, now I have no idea how to meet up with friends without it… A pretty big market that we didn’t know we needed. Further, phones used to be enough, now we have smart phones.

    Secondly, how can the applicants be branded money grabbers one minute and failures the next? Either you are making money or you aren’t. You can’t have it both ways.

  9. While I confess that I’m new to domaining, I think what is sometimes lost in the conversation about the new domains is the definition of “end-user.”

    For domains, there are really 2 categories of end-users, the business owner and the prospective consumer of that business. The registrars who claim that end-users will benefit and want these new domains, are really talking about the business end-user to whom they want to sell–those who cannot or will not pay the price of a domain they want but is already registered.

    The average joe/jane, internet user seeking a business is accustomed to seeing the .com. So the business end-user now has to add additional marketing dollars when they buy a .whatever for their business so that their prospective customers/clients realize that their online presence is a .whatever.

    This may change, of course, as some others have pointed out here with time.

    Speaking only as an average end-user of services and products, when I want to remember a domain to visit I usually only remember what is left of the dot; and, having been “trained” by usage, I automatically type the .com when visiting the site.

    And… as for smartphones, I bought a new one about 3 months ago. The keyboard has a .com button all to itself for when I’m searching online; have never seen a .net or .org key even though those extensions have been around longer.

    Perhaps Mr. Vixie is correct, short-term.

    • Absolutely. And I agree with you. From the standpoint of the registrars, etc., the new ones may be a success to the extent they can convince business and other non-consumer end-users that these are necessary and they buy. But from the standpoint of the consumer end-user, these things should offer some pain reliever just for the headache/hassle of having to remember which extension should be typed in. For me, this is a failure short-term. Vixie’s comments may be right short-term…and maybe even long-term, who knows.

    • Sorry but your smart phone retort is misguided. Of course, smart phones will have .com on them. There is 100M of them. They are about making it efficient. If it is an iPhone I suggest you press and hold the .com and see the options it gives you…

    • It’s an Android. But it is far from misguided since the .com button is still the default. The other options on mine are net and org.

  10. Here’s food for thought:

    “Why more companies are ditching new domain names and reverting to .com”

    Despite what I wrote previously above, I am now considering switching back to .com too for a certain site I have on a new gTLD (not my .club site). I would then redirect the new gTLD to that. I don’t want to be doing that – I would much rather have it stay on the new gTLD – but it’s looking very much like it may be necessary.

  11. Any time you start hearing people say buzzwords or phrases like “paradigm shift” or “forward-thinking”, run as fast as you can to the hills with your money bags. It’s all such phony rhetoric.

    You can toss all these new TLD salesmen on the trash heap with all the other phonies in history. This is mostly worthless land they are selling to the ignorant, scared (protect your trademark!), stupid, bad judgers, or the misinformed

    I love it how all these new players like act as if it’s a revolution in the domain space and ignore the fact that .INFO, .MOBI, .TV, .TRAVEL, and many more …. have been out for a decade or more with zilch effect on the .com domain market. .TV and .INFO and .TRAVEL or .US or .BIZ are are as good or better than .CLUB or most any new TLD. For the most part, I don’t think anyone can deny that.

    I’d like to mention one more thing relating to one of the posts above. The TLDs can make a nice profit and be “successful” in that regard and still be a total failure for the general public. That is exactly what is happening, just as it has with all the previous extensions in the last 15 years.

    If you think .club is a success, then good for you. I won’t argue. However, .mobi, .TV, info., .biz are a success as well, if you are going to say .club is a success. Would you agree? If so, then you can see where .club will be in 10 + years from now : A success for the sellers of .club and a loss for almost buyer of .club, same as .TV, .info, etc… That’s my opinion as a person in this biz is for 20 years and I see nothing on the horizon that will even begin to change that.

    Truth is, ICANN and these companies did a huge disservice to the general public, the Internet infrastructure, and really everyone else by creating mass confusion and trademark battles. It was really irresponsible to release these new TLDs and all the players should be ashamed of themselves.

  12. Ask yourselves, what is the one big thing Bob Parsons discovered about GoDaddy that got him where he is today, which he has repeatedly shared?

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