A few weeks ago, we hosted DOTGreen COO/CFO Tim Switzer for an interview on DomainSkate’s Internet Law Talk podcast.
We’ve had a few requests for a transcript of that interview, and this is part 2 of that interview (see Part 1). We’ve also included the audio so you can listen along. This segment starts at about
We pick up the audio at about 12:55 into the show.
David: Got you. Understood. In terms of looking at the model, sort of the future, how do you plan on positioning DotGreen in terms of…I think of a .CO as a top level domain that’s actually done a really good job of branding themselves and expanding and actually working with their domain holders to add a lot of value. What are your plans of some of the innovations or things that you guys are thinking about?
Tim: Well, I think the things that’s intriguing about DotGreen is that first off all, I’ve travelled around the world and it seems like ever since I’ve joined DotGreen, I’ve been a lot more—I just focused on seeing this but everywhere you go in the world, green means what it means from a context of the whole environmental, social, green economy and so forth. That term and that meaning really translates well around the world. Quite honestly, other parts of the world outside the US are a lot farther along in their green initiatives—Europe, Asia, Latin America. First of all, from our positioning, we truly do believe and we know that this is a very global play so we’re going to focusing on all regions of the world.
The other thing is I think it’s got a very broad target market because whether it’s large corporations, small and medium companies, governments, non-profits, NGOs, individuals, there’s a lot of folks that I think are—and a lot of companies and a lot of entities—extremely interested in being green so to speak and being green in their activities, in their behaviors, in their buying patterns and for corporations and some of the activities they do is for corporate social responsibility and so on.
As an example, there are a lot of companies out there and I’ll use an example that I used to work there—IBM, for example. IBM has really kind of a business unit, I would call it kind of focused on smarter planet. IBM is already kind of recognized that there’s real business to be had and kind of this world and what better way that to kind of—maybe they won’t necessarily maybe change their website from IBM.com to IBM.green, but when you go their website or they have their online presence and they’re talking about smarter planet, what better way to point to that than IBM.green site and it kind of demonstrates to the world what they’re doing.
Same thing with large companies, large retail companies like Walmart and Target. Again, those companies have thousands of green products and services that I don’t think the average consumer is aware off and consumers do want to shop green. I think if they knew the kinds of green products that companies have, it would help their businesses.
I’m not sure if I’ve specifically answered your question as far as our approach but that’s kind of what we’re thinking.
Howard: That makes sense, Tim. I think that having companies like IBM or Walmart having a DotGreen site to help their customers understand the aspects of how they’re being a greener company or how they’re offerings are available makes a huge amount of sense. The questions, I guess, that comes to me from a marketing point of view is how will the end customers, people that marketing folks like to call “consumers,” start to understand that there is a DotGreen or really anything besides a DotCom and the fact that they can not only go to that in their browsers, but that they can trust that when they get there, it’s actually a really site and it’s not just some sort of internet joke. There’s a lot of fear among people for changing what they’ve been doing and they’ve been typing www.something.com for 14 years now.
Tim: I understand that. We fought that battle at NewStar for many years with .BIZ and .US so I understand that. It’s really about and I know this is a term that’s easily said that it’s the kind of the devil is in the details, it’s really about building a brand. That’s what you mentioned .CO. When I was at NewStar, NewStar was the registry services provider for .CO. I was very close to all the things they were doing and all the creative marketing ideas they have.
We don’t want this to be about a top level domain. We want it to be about a brand. It’s multi-pronged as far as the strategy. We’re all ready today and obviously, in a little bit of a smaller grassroots way, we’re already very active in the social media world. I like to say we have a very good and very interesting and very educational website that we’ve drawn a lot of activity to; a lot of blogs; a lot of videos; all the traditional kinds of social media.
As far as branding and as far as kind of PR and marketing kinds of whether it’s buying ads online or so on and so forth, I think there’s a lot of that that we will continue to kind of figure out the exact strategies around. Obviously, when you’re selling domain names too, you have to obviously embrace the channel and the sales channel. I think there’s some opportunities there where in addition to kind of your traditional registrar channel, there’s also the underneath of that, the thousands of resellers. I think there’s also some possibilities for some new channels. That’s kind of a thing that I know I’m kind of excited about is there are entities out there that kind of live specifically in the green world and have companies they do business with and so on and so forth. It’s one of those things where maybe they never thought of the concept of becoming a reseller and selling a domain name but I think that’s very possible.
It’s kind of a multi-pronged approach that says the traditional kinds of social media website retail build your brand kind of activities and then also become very closely engaged with the channel and give the channel a reason. Obviously, we’re going to be TLD going to these channels and they’re going to be hearing the same pitch I’m giving you. They’re going to be hearing that from hundreds of top level domain. Getting your string, in our case, we think a brand, we’re going to have to go and convince them why with all the collateral material, with all the branding, with all the messaging and we thought a lot about that and we kind of tested it out with folks we talked to and it seems to resonate. The one consistent thing I can say is that whether it’s the channel or whether it’s folks in the green community or whatever its corporations, everybody that we’ve talked to about this, we don’t get this blank stare of “I’m not quite sure I get it”. Everybody gets it. Everybody seems to kind of embrace it and understand it and we just have to kind of take that understanding and excitement and translate it into a good market plan that works.
David: You guys certainly have some momentum. I think that at this point, people who watch the space look at the DotGreen foundation as sort of being singularly associated with the application at the very least if not the end and the would be registry that will be created once it goes live.
Tim: On that point, I would just say that we’ve had more than one person in the domain name industry and in the gTLD world say to us that they think over the course of the last few years, a lot of folks have decided that they didn’t want to be visible if they said obviously out there in the industry that DotGreen is probably done a better job as anybody as far as branding the bells over the last few years.
David: Yeah, you guys are familiar to us. I think one of the things that we’ll have to talk about at a later time—we really don’t have time now—is the possible effects that DotGreen could have in terms of search. One of the things that I get really excited about talking about in terms of the new gTLD program and some of the unique ways to identify but I think that might be like a separate conversation I’m sure we could talk for a while on that. But I do want to ask you about the meeting in Amsterdam that you attended and what your thoughts were about that as well as with the upcoming meetings and whether you see a good deal of momentum for the program, the new gTLD program as a whole.
Tim: Yeah, I think the Amsterdam meeting I think was a very good meeting from a standpoint of ICANN content. Keep in mind that once of the, I guess, goals of these ICANN regional meetings is to really kind of reach out and educate folks that don’t normally go to the main ICANN meetings. I think it accomplished that. I know for me and for us personally, got a chance to meet some European registrars that I haven’t had the chance to meet before and again some very good discussions there. I think one of the things and I think you wrote about this right there at the end of the meeting, the comment that—the Fadi you made about concern about ICANN being ready and if you had his druthers, he would delay it for a year and get the processes hard and all that. I appreciate and respect his candor and honesty.
Listen, these processes and the guidebook and all of that had been going on for many years and quite frankly, I mean, we could wait a year and there still would be aspects that probably weren’t perfectly 100% ready. I think we’re ready to go. I think the market’s ready for this. Will there likely be a few hiccups when the first one launched or whatever? Maybe but I think it’s time to go ahead and move forward. We’ve put enough information out there in the market that I think there are people that are interested in this. I think the good thing is talking about the marketing is that we’re all going to help each other. When we all start marketing, sure, I want to market DotGreen and I want to differentiate DotGreen but the fact that there are going to be choices out there and all of the sudden the average person like you say that’s used to just going in and saying let me see if I can get close to my name .com, all of a sudden, when they start seeing that there’s all these different kinds of choices then when all the ones keep coming along, they’re going to say, wow, there really is a choice here. I think the concept of getting this process launched and getting the word out there and making sure—the whole goal of the program is to create consumer choice, consumer creativity, new models, and all that. I think you follow this industry and you know whether it’s the trademark clearing house or whether it’s right to protection mechanisms and all that, there’s always debates about which exact way to do it or whatever. There’s enough smart and well-thought out approaches that have been put in place for this through many years and you follow it. The guy’s book went through. The four or five renditions and I think we got it where it needs to be and it’s time to move on.
David: I think that you make a bunch of good points where I think that one of the things is going to happen. The cream will definitely rise to the top in terms of the folks that have their business models and marketing buttoned up in terms of actually running a new gTLD and they’re going to have to go through a lot of hoops in order to get approved in terms of the security aspect and maintenance aspect. I think you make a really good point. I think part of this has been thought out ad nauseam and it’s time to implement and execute. I think for me I thought the comments were a little bit shocking in terms of expressing to the community that oh my gosh, where do we find ourselves right now? I think probably in the future, he’ll keep those comments to himself. There are going to be hiccups but I think it doesn’t help his cause because, and you hit it on the head with a mandate where ICANN is to create this multi stakeholder model. I think that it’s really fundamental to it to have these new gTLDs and these new expressions and even they have Japanese language and Chinese languages, it’s going to be really cool.
Tim: You mentioned—
Howard: Sorry to interrupt you. I just want to say we have two minutes left so I just wanted to give you a chance to give like a 30-second wrap up of your final thoughts on this for our listeners here.
Tim: Okay, thank you. I just want to mention real quick. You mentioned the multi stakeholder model. I think that’s what’s kind of the power of this is that and the ICANN model, it can make things last longer. I think you’re into these goals you’ve gotten the input from all the affected parties.
In closing, I want to thank you so much for allowing to come on and telling the DotGreen story. We’re extremely excited and looking forward to bringing this brand to the world and really engaging with all aspects of companies, governments, individuals, and non-profits and a really around the world, you will see us global and we think this is going to be a very successful brand, a very successful top level domain that will really change things. It will really change where the future of our planet and the future of people. We’re excited.
David: That’s great and it’s great to see the DotGreen folks out there. You’re out there working hard and doing things the right way and participating and really trying to bring people into the fold and with a real clear mission. It’s exciting to see and I think that it really brings a lot of goodwill towards the entire community to see folks doing it the right way. Thank you for coming on. I’m going to let Howard close it up here and I look forward to talking to you soon. Thank you.
Tim: Thank you very much.
Howard: Thank again Tim. We appreciate it. Thanks for joining us on Internet Law Talk sponsored by DomainSkate.com, domain law made easy. Join us again on February 14th at 2PM Eastern and we’ll have a new topic for the latest in internet law, domains and the new gTLDs. I’m Howard Greenstein with David Mitnick and thanks to our guest, Tim Switzer from DotGreen. We’ll see you next time...