BK: New.net launched with lots of fanfare and controversy, however hasn't had lots of press recently. What has New.net been working on?
DS: Our most significant development has been the completion of our new registry system. This new system uses an industry standard technology that has enabled us to begin building out our reseller network. To date, we've relied heavily on sales from our own retail site (www.new.net), but the success of this business is dependent on a distributed sales network. Our technology gives us a leg up in developing this.
In January 2003, one of the largest ICANN-accredited registrars in the world, BulkRegister.com, began carrying our product and we've now begun signing up new partners at a steady clip. During that time we've continued to build our network of users (that can access new.net names) with distribution relationships like the one we launched in December with RealNetworks. So while the initial media attention subsided as you note, we've stuck to our knitting and have been doing the things that we'd set out to do. The New.net concept which attracted so much interest at launch is a lasting idea, and our growing user base and profitability are indicative of our success.
BK: How has the adoption of your service gone, and what domain extension do you see being registered most?
DS: Making a fundamental change in the way things are done is never an easy task. Despite this, we've been able to build a network of 185 million users that can now access our more descriptive domain names. Growing the network that quickly is another clear signal that New.net offers a compelling solution to Internet users looking for more logical, easy to remember domain name extensions. The most popular domain has been ".shop."
BK: How many employees do you have at your company now?
DS: Following a couple of recent additions, we're 21 employees strong.
BK: What's your current relationship with Idealab?
DS: Idealab! is the majority shareholder in our company and an incredibly supportive partner. Though we moved out of the idealab! incubator in 2001, we still work closely with them and they continue to provide us with some key support. That relationship is one of the reasons we've been able to keep our operations streamlined and react quickly to changes in the business climate.
BK: What's next for New.net?
DS: That question might be better asked a few months from now. The progress has been tremendous for us over the last two years. However, we still have some ground to cover before it will be time to move on to the next thing. Adding multilingual, or non-Roman character domain names is on the short list for what is next.
BK: How'd you get involved with New.net, and what's your own background?
DS: idealab! recruited me as New.net's first employee, in part due to my background in business development and marketing. Having spent several years at the Walt Disney Internet Group working on distribution deals with ISPs and hardware manufacturers, I think I was one of the few people who really understood that getting worldwide adoption for an entirely new naming system was possible.
BK: What's the most difficult challenge New.net has had growing from an idea into a full fledged company?
DS: I think our biggest challenge was getting support from, and formal relationships in place with, our first ISP partners. Getting EarthLink and NetZero to take the first big step with us when we launched the company was also one of the most critical accomplishments for the company. I'd be exaggerating to say that it's been easy from there, but subsequent relationships followed more easily and I think it's telling that both of those earliest partners have stuck with us and entered into subsequent long term agreements.