Pat Kane NamesCon 2016 Keynote: .com is Very Much Alive

Pat Kane takes the pulse of .com and .net at NamesCon 2016 Pat Kane, Senior Vice President of Naming and Directory Services at Verisign, is responsible for the policy and operational management of all TLDs operated by Verisign, including .com and .net, as well as the development of additional tools and services created to support Verisign’s channel partners. No pressure, right? Kane took the main stage at NamesCon 2016 to deliver a keynote talk that NamesCon co-founder Jothan Frakes described as "stats porn".

Last year was the 30th anniversary of .com and .net, said Kane, and now we're looking at over 299 million total domain names.  Now the walled gardens of social networks affect how people register domains, said Kane. Facebook has 1.5 billion user accounts, and we're seeing a trend where people are using domain names to point into social networks.

The founders of the web didn't build for user-friendliness and security, said Kane: that came later as people got more comfortable using web browsers (remember Netscape Navigator?)

Since January 2014, over 11 million gross new registrations of gTLDs have taken place. Meanwhile, aggregate .com and .net registrations, when plotted on a graph,  describe a 45-degree upward line from January 2014 to July 2015.

The .com and .net domain name is still growing, said Kane, and the domain-tasting trend was part of maintaining that momentum: "We saw two and a half million registrations in a single day." Longer names are being registered, said Kane, and the majority of registrations are keyword-rich: "descriptive is good." During the domain-tasting phase, "almost-nonsensical" names were being registered, but .com string length stayed about the same.

Verisign found that lots of people were starting to register numerical names. Still, registration behavior has been fairly consistent. In terms of resale, though, all-numeric names have taken off spectacularly. This is influenced by the Chinese market, said Kane: the number 8 is very common as it's a lucky number in China; the number 4, not so much.

Each week, Verisign drops thousands upon thousands of names, said Kane, 10% of which get re-registered within 24 hours. Of the roughly 60 million registrations, 75% of them had never been registered before.

"Wouldn't you want to buy what people want to buy," asked Kane: "What I want you to walk away with is that .com continues to be an important part" of an investor's portfolio.