Why Most Startups Haven’t Heard Of “The New gTLDs”

Lately I’ve been thinking that there is a growing disconnect between the domain world and the startup world. A lot of this has come to me over the last year and a half as I’ve moved from the domain industry to the startup space myself. Now that I’m in Techstars I am surrounded by other startup founders all day every day and I’ve been learning that there is a bit of a disconnect.

First, most people think I made-up the term “Domaining” and “Domainer”. The #1 response I get when I tell people that I used to be in the “Domaining” space is, “Did you just make-up that term, what does that mean?” Once I tell people, “Domain Investing” then they start to smile, “Oh Cybersquatting!” is the typical answer.

So then I explain the differences between “Domain Investors” and “Cybersquatters” and usually that hits home. Still I realized that the term “Domaining” has really been an industry term, not as much a term that the outside world (or at least the startup world) is very familiar with. This made me think – if the startup world doesn’t know what “Domaining” is, they probably don’t know the term “new gTLD” which has become an incredibly popular term in the Domaining world.

So I conducted a little survey. I asked 20 startup founders if they knew about the “new gTLDs” only two had any idea what I was talking about. I asked 20 different startup founders if they knew about the “new domain name extensions” and eighteen of them knew what I was talking about. We’ve been speaking in riddles and the only ones who know what we are talking about is, well, us!

It can be easy to think that everyone knows what a TLD is or knows the difference between a registrar and a registry. So next time you’re writing about or sharing all the excitement around the “new gTLDs” just remember, you might need to say things a bit differently if you want other people to know what you’re talking about.

What startups do know is the extensions themselves, every startup I spoke to had heard of .CO, .ME, .IO and countless other TLDs, they just didn’t know they were called TLDs. Some had heard of .GURU, .NYC and a handful of others but these are still taking time to make it into the general population. As many of you know I think these new domain name extensions will help grow the domain industry in a major way, I’m incredibly excited about them which is why I also want to make sure we get the word out in a way that everyone else can easily understand.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Brian Diener July 15, 2014, 7:26 am

    I’ve heard the same thing from my younger college age friends. They may not know our terminology, but many have heard of a few of the new domain name extensions. They are not aware of the majority the new gTLDS, but some of the marketing is reaching them, which is a good start for the industry.

  • Jeff Sass July 15, 2014, 9:05 am

    Thanks for this Morgan. You hit the nail on the head. “TLD” (and its numerous, equally nondescript permutations -nTLD, gTLD, etc.) means nothing to consumers and businesses. They are domains, domain names, and domain extensions. The so-called new “TLDs” are just “new” domain names or new domain extensions (and that’s how most registrars, who are on the front lines of selling, refer to them.) In addition to trying to wean myself off the TLD train in .CLUB’s communications, I am on the Marketing Committee of the DNA (Domain Name Association) and we, too, are trying to get everyone talking in the same, more understandable, language about… Domain Names!

    – Jeff Sass, .CLUB Domains

  • Anthony July 15, 2014, 9:19 am

    Its important for those in the startup circle to understand what people in the domaining circle do and vice-versa. And you could replace “startup” and “domaining” with any other two industries. You could even add a third, fourth, fifth circle into the mix too. We tend to operate in bubbles and usually its not purposely done.

    Education goes a long way to breaking down walls of communication, respect, and the ability to conduct business between all of these circles / “bubbles”. Successful people are the ones who can get the circles to mesh.

    After all, we’re all here to do business of one sort or another.

  • Jason Thompson July 15, 2014, 11:39 am


    Hurry up with that program and get back to LA. The startup scene out here is rocking and needs a little FM in it.

  • Michael July 15, 2014, 3:28 pm

    Morgan are most of the start-ups using .com? or are they just building apps?

  • Alan Dodd July 15, 2014, 5:27 pm

    Here’s the list of names in use by Y Combinator startups:-


    When that changes – we change!

  • Kassey July 15, 2014, 7:30 pm

    @Alan, interesting to see most names on yclist use .com.

  • Alan Dodd July 16, 2014, 7:33 am

    @ Kassey, yes for the moment!

    A lot of startups were getting used to completely dropping “right of the dot”. They now have new opportunities galore besides that naming convention.

    But every opportunity also has a potential opportunity cost…

  • Kassey July 16, 2014, 1:19 pm

    “They now have new opportunities galore besides that naming convention.” Can you name some?


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