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The Latest Domain-Name Gold Rush

The Latest Domain-Name Gold Rush
Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Registering a common business name as a domain name that ends in .com will often start in the thousands of dollars. That’s because almost all the combinations that hold commercial potential have already been registered. If the owners are making money from them, they’ll be reluctant to sell and they know they can command high prices if they do.

A new initiative dubbed the “New Generic Top-Level Domains” and organized by ICANN—the nonprofit that has managed Internet names and addresses since 1998—could add more than 1,000 extensions to the roughly two dozen familiar extensions in use now. New extensions are likely to be established in myriad categories: industry terms such as .bank or .hotel; existing brands such as .apple or .bmw; geographic monikors such as .nyc and .london; and new general terms such as .web. The expansion could mean that the owner of a smoothie shop in Miami who couldn’t obtain or afford the domain name “miamismoothieshop.com” could register a different name, for example, “smoothieshop.miami” for less.