Reflecting on Three Years of .CO: Where We’ve Come From; Where We’re Going

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Last week I had the opportunity to be in South Africa on business on Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday. News of the birthday was everywhere. Every magazine, every newspaper, every billboard, every person had something positive to say about him. Talk about a legacy! This man has made a huge “dent in the universe” – changing the lives of millions – and inspiring generations to come.

Birthdays are a great time for reflection. And with the third birthday of the .CO domain upon us, I can’t help but to reflect on the three years that have passed since our global launch and to wonder: What have we achieved? Have we made a dent in the universe? And what will our legacy be?

What Have We Achieved?

When we launched .CO back in 2010, we had high hopes to contribute to the world. You may have heard me say that we set out to “change the fabric of the Internet“. You probably heard Lori Anne say that we were “building a global brand synonymous with innovation and opportunity“. Collectively, our team hoped that maybe, just maybe, we’d get to a point one day where .CO would help to inspire hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world to build their ideas online.

With that in mind, I can’t complain about what we’ve achieved in our short history. We started out with nothing. And three years later we have over 1.5 million .CO domain names registered by individuals and businesses in over 200 countries.

More than a web utility, .CO is a growing, global brand and an exciting, thriving community. It’s a place where the brilliant ideas of innovators and entrepreneurs are coming to life each and every day. And it’s not just startups who are calling .CO home. Large companies like Twitter (vine.co) and Walmart (goodies.co), that have the resources to choose any domain out there, are also building new products and services on .CO.

In one of our proudest moments, a few months back we saw 9 .CO companies featured in TechCrunch articles during a 7-day consecutive period. When you consider the fact that TechCrunch typically only covers the hottest companies that are building the coolest technologies – that, my friends, is no small feat!

Have We Made a Dent in the Universe?

I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past three years. People are pursuing their passions, chasing their dreams and building the future on .CO. And as you can see from the Super Bowl ad we did with GoDaddy this year, we’ve had a lot of fun inspiring the world to get off the couch and get their ideas online!

This said, I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say that we’ve made our “dent in the universe” just yet. I do believe that we’ve made a nice sized chink – and that’s a good start!

The reality is, we are still a long way off from changing the fabric of the Internet. We are still a small company, competing in an uber-competitive market against several 800-pound gorillas. We’re still the underdog.

On top of that, with the proliferation of new domain extensions, we’re going to have to work harder and smarter than ever before to have the kind of huge impact on the world that we’ve got in mind.

Shaping Our Legacy; Building the Future

Changing the fabric of the Internet for the better is certainly a tall order. To achieve a legacy so grand means we need to start shaping our legacy and building the future we hope to create. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.

  1. We’re Doubling Down on Our Target Market. First, we’re putting more emphasis than ever on our target market of innovators, entrepreneurs and startups. In the past we had taken more of a shot-gun approach to generating awareness for .CO. Instead of focusing on the mass consumer market, going forward we’ll focus on targeting a market that, like us, is eager to take risks and to challenge the status-quo. Those are the folks who will build the next Twitter, the next Facebook, the next Google. It’s a long-term bet, but we’re confident it will continue to pay off.
  2. We’re Investing More in Our Membership Program. Our Membership Program is a key to our long-term strategy. We launched it in beta at the end 2012 and it’s had an amazing reception from our community. Now we can offer our customers value added benefits that go way beyond a simple domain name. Anyone who registers a .CO domain has access to high value, highly coveted education, networking, and promotional opportunities – things that none of our industry peers offer. Expect the program to evolve into something even more dynamic and useful in the months to come.
  3. We’re Launching New TLDs. We plan to introduce additional domain extensions in 2014. From a strategic standpoint, we think it’s important for us to broaden our product offering. .CO will certainly continue to be our flagship brand, but we recognize that there are niche markets out there where other domain extensions may be equally, if not more, suitable.
  4. We’re developing a Niche Retail Strategy. You can expect the roll-out of our very own niche-retail strategy in the months ahead. Our plan is to address certain needs of the tech startup and entrepreneurial markets that are currently not addressed by existing offerings. Our end goal is to ensure that .CO and other new TLDs can be found at the point of inception – at the precise moment when ideas are being born.Unlike traditional registrars, we will not be offering .CO domain names for sale individually. Instead, they will be bundled as part of a holistic web presence and tied to various applications and services that customers can choose from and pay for on a monthly basis. It will be like nothing you have ever seen before – and we are super excited to share it with you soon!
  5. We’re Planning to Partner in a Big Way. Going forward, you can expect us to partner in a big way. I can’t get into the details of what this entails just yet, but I can promise that it’s going to be big. So stay tuned.

Thank You, Thank you, Thank you!

Thanks for sticking with me. I’m glad you made it this far – because this is the most important part of the whole blog post!

Reflecting on the past three years has reminded me – once again – of just how much there is to be grateful for… So now, a little thanks!

Thank you to our .CO-ers: the individuals and companies that today are propelling the brand to new heights. You are the heart and soul of .CO! Keep on inspiring us!

Thank you to our channel partners: for believing in what we set out to do and helping us to get there – we couldn’t have gotten here without you!

Thank you to our extended network of friends and partners: the communities, co-working spaces, event companies, incubators, accelerators and enthusiasts who are helping us to build and grow the .CO brand worldwide. You rock in such a big way.

Thank you to our families: for putting up with endless hours of work, impromptu conference calls, and late nights on the computer.

And most importantly, thank you to my team: For believing in the crazy idea that we could turn a domain extension into a flourishing brand that inspires people around the world to succeed.

Thank you all!

Happy birthday .COmmunity!
-Juan