The Internet's long-restricted virtual real estate market is open for business.
Hundreds of new so-called top-level domains (TLDs) like .photography, .expert and .pizza are available now that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which oversees the domain name system, has expanded access to suffixes.
A handful of companies that prepared years ago to take advantage of this land grab are in a position to profit handsomely for years to come.
The new opening will also be a boost for brands looking to strengthen their online presence, but have been thwarted by domain-name squatters charging top dollar for the last remains of the dot-com universe.
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One business, the sports training group Fast Twitch, jumped on the trend early. The company's three elite training facilities in South Florida attract major league pitchers, pro boxers and all-star football players. But try finding the company online at fasttwitch.com and you'll land on a generic website telling you the domain is for sale.
The dot-com game is too pricey for Fast Twitch Chief Development Officer James Meder. As a small business operator on a tight budget, he refuses to plop down $20,000 for a domain.
Fortunately for Meder, the new level of TDL suffixes means he no longer has to. Early this year, for an annual fee of about $40, Meder launched his website using the brand new address fasttwitch.training.
"Being a training company, this is a catchy, quick way to brand ourselves," said Meder, whose Miami-based company operates in partnership with sports apparel and accessories provider Under Armour. "It's another piece of trying to do something unique."
Other currently live pages include beingamom.life, a website for mothers, and any.business, a small business content site. Donuts, a major buyer of new TLDs, calls it the "Not Com Revolution," because the past 30 years on the Web have been a dot-com circus.
The original .com suffix, short for commercial, is the default method for establishing a corporate address, while .org has been the go-to extension for nonprofits and .edu for colleges and universities. According to Verisign, which manages .com websites, 115.6 million of the 288 million domains registered across the globe end in .com.
"It's a very saturated name space," said Bhavin Turakhia, founder and CEO of Radix, the owner of rights to new suffixes including .website, .space and .site. "You really can't find any good, short, easy-to-remember names."
To get around the shortage, U.S. start-ups have turned to using country codes like .ly (Libya), .me (Montenegro) and .tv (Tuvalu) in building their online presence.