Today we have another Q&A, this one with Jean Guillon who has his own consulting company specialising in domain names, Jovenet Consulting. He describes himself as a New gTLD consultant and evangelist with experience as a Registrant, a Registrar and as a Registry. So he’s seen the domain name industry from every angle. And Jean is excited about the opportunities new gTLDs offer, for one, allowing registrants to choose domains that “offer more precision and more descriptiveness”.
Jean looks at the highlights such as more good websites using new gTLD domain names, while the inordinate amount of time ICANN is taking to launch a second round of new gTLD applications is frustrating him. The EU’s GDPR is a “waste of time” but 2019 is set to offer him some great opportunities including the .BEST project and working in a team.
Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2018 in the domain name industry for you?
Jean Guillon: In 2018, I noticed that new gTLD registration volumes (volumes of domains registered for new gTLDs) were lower for many extensions in December 2018 when compared to January. I guess that is a lowlight.
The highlight is that there are plenty more of very good websites using new gTLDs: for example, many generic second level domains now point to a live website and not a parked page. A lowlight is the time ICANN takes from the end of the first round to be able to announce a date for the next round. I sometimes read in the ICANN community’s correspondence and wonder: what do these people do to make it so slow? Why does it take so long, why is the process so complex? Can’t someone just “decide”. The .AMAZON case is a good example.
DP: GDPR – good, bad and/or indifferent to you and the wider industry and why?
JG: Totally indifferent about it. GDPR is a waste of time to me and just another “cookies crap pop-up” that pollutes my screen and make me less efficient when I need to navigate on Internet. Now, if it helps lawyers and other specialists to “sell more”, then it is fine with me, I know how it works. I have not met nor shared with one single person who told me something positive about the GDPR.
The front page of the European Commission’s official GDPR website says: “…people have more control over their personal data and businesses benefit from a level playing field”: is there someone naive enough in the whole wide world to think that the GDPR is going to make any difference? When one wants to use your data, they do so and don’t tell you. Once they have, do you think that the GDPR makes a difference? No because it is too late. When your data is stolen from your telco company, your registrar or your bank, do you think that the GDRP can help? No.
DP: What are you looking forward to in 2019?
JG: Two things: one is personal, the other is about our industry:
1) Work in a team, not alone anymore. I have been doing that for 7 years now and the second round is coming, I don’t want to face it alone because there is business to do with .BRANDs, more Generic and Geographic TLDs to create, and innovation to develop with new gTLDs.
2) The .BEST new gTLD has that little “something” that could bring innovation to the Net. It is adapting an entire domain name extension to a new kind of social network: in 2019, I want to see something that has never been invented in the history of Internet so I am keeping an eye on that project.
DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?
JG: A challenge for me will be to find the right family to work for in the new TLD industry: a backend registry, a registrar, a law firm or an existing, (or “to be created”) registry. I am a little worried about this because innovation is my thing and some innovative (and lucrative) new gTLD projects require a little time to develop so they can be activated once the extension has been acquired. I am not fast enough on that approach of the next round so it is a challenge. I can’t get the attention of Qwant, Google, Duck Duck Go or Microsoft on project “John Wolley – not just another new gTLD” for example. This is an annual $50M ROI project that I would like to find a company to develop. Unfortunately, this comes too early in the history of Internet I believe. Try to Google “Project John Wolley“, you should find something connected to Jovenet Consulting ;-)
Another Challenge will be to convince Trademarks that they can use their .BRAND as a tool to generate an annual or monthly income from a service based on their domain names, not generic ones: you don’t necessarily need to sell domain names to generate an income from a registry. You can rent an online access to a platform using your “.brand” domain names and when you control all domains. It makes a serious difference when the cost of your service pays for the annual domain name renewal. The .TEL new gTLD tried that, but that was in 2007 and things have changed.
DP: 2019 will mark 5 years since the first new gTLDs came online. How do you view them now?
JG: I read a lot of negative things about new gTLDs but one thing is for sure: new domains offer more precision and more descriptiveness in the name itself since the extension can be adapted to the subject of the website. “.com” does not offer that. I still view new gTLDs as the future because – and I think that is a good example to use – a shoe store, for example, will have one or two competitors in the same street of Paris right? On Internet and a similar geographical location, he could have hundreds and probably 10 on the first page of Google’s results. When you identify this website using the extension, you don’t get an SEO advantage but you get the branding one: the extension gives another information and allows to faster identify that the website is about and the subject you are looking for. It is the exact same with .BRAND new gTLDs: you identify the Trademark thanks to the extension. New gTLDs are developing. Let’s just say that they have the future in front of them to do so… and they will.
DP: Are domain names as relevant now for consumers – business, government and individuals – as they have been in the past?
JG: I’d say that it is a matter of generation: people grow up with domain names. I even start to see new domains advertised in the Paris’ tube. People learn about domains because they notice them not only online but offline too. Website users and bloggers now tend to use a domain name when in the past, they’d sticked to a long and ugly URL, this is changing (even in France). Domains are even more relevant now for individuals I would say.
Previous Q&As in this series were with EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain (available here), with Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH (here), Afilias’ Roland LaPlante (here), DotBERLIN’s Dirk Krischenowski (here), DENIC (here) Internet.bs’ Marc McCutcheon (here), nic.at’s Richard Wein (here), Neustar’s George Pongas (here), CentralNic’s Ben Crawford (here) and CIRA’s David Fowler (here).
If you’d like to participate in this Domain Pulse series with industry figures, please contact David Goldstein at Domain Pulse by email to david[at]goldsteinreport.com.