Page Howe: Why Everyone In LA Ought To Have a .LA Domain

Story by Benjamin F. Kuo


We recently ran into Page Howe, the Chief Engagement Officer for the .LA ( domain name extension, who sat down with us and told us about why he's out making the rounds with community groups and events, promoting the use of .LA as a domain extension. Howe is a veteran of the domain name business, having made his name buying and selling domain names over the years, including having founded Joe's Domains. He recently opened an office here in LA to promote the .LA domain name, and we caught up with him to hear more about why he things everyone should get their own .LA domain name.

Explain a little bit about what you're doing with .LA?

Page Howe: .LA is a domain name that works perfectly for companies and brands in LA. It works on every Internet-connected computer worldwide, and every mobile phone everywhere. It's a shorter domain, with an LA look, style, and feel. About 95 percent of the names in the dot com world now, you can get in dot LA, which lets you get a one word restaurant domain. An example of that is Craig's, which now has Almost any name of a product or service, and many generic domain names are available in .LA.

How did you get involved with .LA?

Page Howe: I've been a fan of the domain since 2008 and 2009, having grown up in LA, lived here, and seen the story here through the good and the bad. I was at the Forum the night of the LA riots, and I've seen LA through earthquakes and everything. I see now with the new mayor, that LA has really come together. It's not just a real estate or technology or entertainment town, it's all of those, which we can show off with a new namespace. I think of it as real estate, of finding 500 acres off the coast, which means new businesses, new jobs, and which lets anyone who wants to disrupt a business have a great keyword, .LA.

We should talk a bit about your background -- can you give a quick background for our readers?

Page Howe: I founded my first domain business in 2001, because I figured that domains would always be there, and that although companies would be coming and going, they'd always need Internet real estate. Along the way, we applied for a new domain. .KIDS, which we never got. But, that started a whole idea of new domains. We bought and sold domains, and it's now been over two million since 2007. The biggest sale I think was over $1.8 million from a domain, and we have thousands of customers. That's our bread and butter.

You've been in this business for awhile -- where are we nowadays in the domain name industry nowadays?

Page Howe: When I started in the domain business, it's was all about monetizing domain names, based on whether you likes those names or not. It was, do I like it, will it help me sell more stuff, kind of like the person who wants the nicest looking shoes to make a great first impression. It's the same for a great domain. Between 2004 and 2009, things were driven by Google's search engine algorithms. If you had a good keyword, that might give you a better place in Google's search engine, and that became the dominant reason for a domain. I think we've scaled back from that now as a sole reason for a domain, and it's gone back to now if you want it. It's just a way to show you have lots of prestige.

Dot .LA has actually been around for awhile, hasn't it?

Page Howe: Yes, but it's never had a person representing .LA. For the last three or four months, I've been listening to people at meetups and technology events, working with the chamber of commerce, economic development agencies, and trying to get a sense of what people need and want. What has happened, is there has been so much disruption with Internet businesses and apps, that if we're all just sending our business to Silicon Valley or NYSE traded public companies, we're sending that money out of LA. For companies with a .LA website, that's not only more jobs, but it gives LA its own ecosystem. There's no other place like LA, in terms of language, style, or culture. LA is so different, having your own domain name gives you some exciting possibilities. My job is to promote .LA, you can buy it from any registrar. My job is like being a real estate developer with a neighborhood or a development, and help others to co-promote their .LA names.

Are domains till important, given how many people are now using mobile apps and social networks to get to the content they want?

Page Howe: I think, if we didn't have mobile apps and social networks, domains would be ten million dollars each. However, they're still hugely important. I think people realize, that although it's good to have things like Twitter, all those companies have to monetize their own ecosystem. I think people realize that they don't own that social app, they don't own that page on Twitter or Facebook. What you really own, is your own domain name, and that allows you to own your customer and your own data. The problem with those other environments, is you're always part of their ecosystem, and you are paying them, and they own your customer and customer data. Although we fully respect that people nowadays can skip right over a domain name, at some point, you really can't afford to not have the best you can for your business, and have a domain that will last.

Thanks, and good luck!