In today’s dynamic digital landscape, domain names are pivotal in shaping online identities. While we are all familiar with the predominant gTLD .com, a new player has entered the game, offering a fresh perspective on domain registration: it.com, technically a third-level domain. With its unique syntax, it.com creates memorable addresses for brands, organizations and individuals.
But how exactly does a third-level domain like it.com work? To answer that question and unravel the intricate nuances of it.com, we had the pleasure of interviewing a seasoned professional in the domain industry: Joe Alagna, Director of Sales at the it.com registry. With over 20 years of experience working with domains and having served in fundamental roles at big players in the industry, Joe’s insights are valuable for professionals and enthusiasts alike.
As our engaging conversation with Joe unfolds, we’ll explore it.com’s origin, features and growth. We’ll also discuss how its versatility can benefit businesses and individuals looking to style their online presence. So, buckle up and get ready for our tech-savvy discussion with Joe Alagna – a journey that inspires and defines the ever-evolving domain industry.
1 it.com is a new domain registry: Where does the story start? What are the notable milestones and achievements the registry has accomplished so far?
Setting up the it.com registry was the idea of our CEO, Andrey Insarov. Andrey is the founder and CEO of an ongoing IT company called Intis Telecom. The company has an annual turnover of $40M and provides short messaging services for some of the largest telecom companies from all over the world. In 2021, Andrey purchased the domain name it.com, initially as a way to shorten and simplify his domain name. But he soon realized that it.com could benefit many more people and companies than himself. So, he decided to get ICANN accredited and build a registry offering it.com to other IT companies.
I came on board in 2022 and by the time I joined the company, the registry was already a work in progress. Had they not built those systems already, I might have advised them to outsource the registry, but it looked really good and reminded me of my early days at CentralNic. Relying on our own registry system, we spent the last quarter of 2022 developing our legal and policy issues. We onboarded some essential brand management registrars and launched our sunrise in January 2023. We got hundreds of registrations during the launch and brought on a majority of the largest IT companies in the world, commonly described as “FAAMG” companies, in the US stock market. They registered their it.com domains for brand protection purposes.
Since mid-February 2023, we’ve been spending our time building our channel. We’ve brought on over 20 significant registrars, including InterNetX and our goal is to have ten thousand domains under management by the end of 2023!
2 What sets the nature of it.com apart from other TLDs?
First, I must point out that when you refer to it.com domains, they are most appropriately called “third-level domains” rather than top-level domains (TLDs). We like to refer to our domain as an “extension,” a “suffix” or even an “ending” rather than a TLD. This is to reduce confusion and to be truthful about what our product actually is.
A third-level domain is an additional part of a domain name that extends an existing second-level domain by another layer. It precedes the second-level domain and the top-level domain in the domain hierarchy. Third-level domains are commonly used to organize content, services or region-specific resources within a larger domain structure.
3What is the strategy behind registering it.com domain names and their target audience?
The term “IT” has a dual meaning in the context of the domain name it.com. While “IT” commonly stands for Information Technology, it also signifies the word “it” in everyday language. Acquiring an it.com domain can evoke the idea of possessing “it” – a desirable and intangible quality encompassing charisma, confidence, charm and overall appeal. Thus, it.com represents more than just a tech-related domain name; it embodies a sense of completeness or “having it all” for its registrant.
Many domainers are registering it.com domains as a call to action. These include domains like do.it.com and buy.it.com. These websites have yet to be developed, but we hope to see some exciting things from these domains. Our primary targets are the IT industry and, of course, Italians. These are the most intuitive markets we’ve identified in our domains. Our suffix gives them a way to get short, meaningful strings and helps them identify with what they do or are about.
It’s also meaningful that our suffix ends in .com. The world loves a domain ending in .com!
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4What are your day-to-day responsibilities as the Director of Sales at it.com? Also, how do your tasks align with the company’s overall strategic goals?
As the Director of Sales at it.com, a crucial part of my role involves managing our strategic direction. This necessitates regular analysis of market trends, staying updated on any changes within our industry and adjusting our marketing strategies accordingly.
Our company structure is highly collaborative. Consequently, I work closely with colleagues to align our sales objectives with the organization’s broader goals.
I see myself more as a coach and advisor, using my past experiences at other companies to help us successfully get through these beginning stages. I certainly couldn’t do this without the unwavering support of our CEO. He is determined to see it.com through to long-term success and has the resources necessary to make it happen.
5In the dynamic domain business, fostering lasting customer relationships is vital. What is your approach to building and maintaining engagement and adapting to evolving needs in this industry?
The key to registry growth lies in the powerful acronym TRUST, which stands for transparency, reach, unhindered, security and technology. This message was influential during my tenure at CentralNic and Afilias. Interpreted even further, TRUST is an acronym comprising core principles we as a registry must adhere to.
Transparency: This is about operating to allow all parties – registrars, resellers and end users – to understand a domain zone’s operations and what it offers. Transparency means open, straightforward communication and ensuring the clients know what is registered and available.
Reach: Success significantly relies on a solid and supportive sales channel. More importantly, offering a domain to an expansive market through accredited registrars is a way to reach more potential clients or customers. The emphasis is on not limiting yourself to a local market.
Unhindered: A successful registry allows its market to operate freely – it does not hinder market activities. Domain investors and large corporations that own trademarks alongside other end users form a part of this ecosystem. They must be allowed to operate without unnecessary restrictions for the overall success of the registry.
Security: Under the TRUST framework, security involves maintaining robust measures to protect our registry not only against cyber threats but also from rules and policies like GDPR and NIS2, especially in dealing with disputes, fraud, spam, and other malpractices. It implies:
- Signing zone files to provide registrants with a secure way to build their online presence.
- Cybercrime analytics using modern tools to combat domain abuse.
- Using the best security tools, firewalls and DNS security expertise to keep the systems safe.
- Strengthening server security: servers must be safeguarded at all levels.
- Partnering with global authorities to tackle spam, phishing and other types of DNS abuse.
- Education for staff: Ensuring an informed workforce through continued training.
Technology: Technology includes meeting the highly transactional and instantaneous expectations of registrants. It involves core domain functions to ensure the smooth performance of domain operations, including domain lookups, registrations, renewals, transfers, email forwarding, WHOIS identity protection, and many others. But also automation is critical. Using APIs and EPP handles is essential for automating many of these functions, which are necessary for registrars and registrants to carry out their operations efficiently.
Each point in the TRUST acronym plays a significant role in shaping a sustainable and robust digital business.
6How does it.com ensure the security of its domains and protect against potential threats?
Security is always a personal responsibility but our registry provides all the tools and protections needed to help people secure their online presence.
We have developed all the standard policies to prevent trademark infringement and abuse of domains. We have a take-down policy and a zero-tolerance for malware and abuse. The root of the it.com zone is signed so that registrants can protect their domains using SSL with the assurance that there is a complete chain of security from their third-level domain down to the .com root.
We’re also part of the PSL (Public Suffixes List), which allows browsers to differentiate cookies from one subdomain to another. The PSL was a voluntary effort slowly being migrated towards management by ICANN.
7Are there any specific niches that have seen success or benefits from using it.com?
Although we didn’t expect it, our earliest successes have come from the Italian market. We were fortunate to have hired Alessandro Baruffi, who spent many years working for Tucows. Alessandro has an excellent reputation in the Italian domain market and has helped us bring many Italian registrars and resellers on board. We’ve done several events in Italy and are finding great acceptance of the it.com domain there.
Registrants of .it domains are finding significant benefits in registering the it.com extension because, by habit, many of their visitors from the US and other countries add .com to their domain when typing it into their browser. This is called traffic leakage and bears a significant unknown cost to .it registrants. By owning and redirecting their it.com domain to their .it domain, these registrants eliminate that online traffic leakage.
8What future developments or plans does it.com have for the registry and its customers?
2022 was the year we developed our registry infrastructure and policy. 2023 has been the year of growing our channel. We spent much time and effort recruiting and evangelizing domain name registrars. In 2024, we aim to continue and enhance that effort by reaching out to the global IT community. There are many technical and public perceptions for us to overcome, but we have already achieved significant breakthroughs on both fronts and are continuing to move forward.Get your it.com domain