I’m in Seattle this week through Wednesday for the Domain Roundtable conference and Microsoft Hosting Summit. I’m really looking forward to both. I recently picked up interim operational responsibility for Domain Direct, Tucows retail domain name registration business. I ran Domain Direct for a short time in the late nineties and the experience was instrumental in getting me thinking about the wholesale services market, which eventually led to the launch of the super-successful OpenSRS.
Anyways, both of these conferences are super-well timed for me. Each focus on different aspects of the internet services industry and should be pretty instructive in terms of my new gig. Its been a while since I’ve been directly involved with the retail end of the business and I’m really looking forward to wrapping my head around some of the delicious challenges that the business is facing.
Some of these challenges are pretty traditional – do we really want to grow the business, where will the growth come from, how do we tap into it, etc. But since we’re talking about Tucows, not all of the challenges are straightforward. For instance, Domain Direct is a retail business. Tucows focuses on wholesale opportunities. So, the really gnarly questions include, how do we make Domain Direct strategically important in the wholesale context? how do we do this in a way that doesn’t competitively threaten the businesses of our wholesale customers? Can we turn Domain Direct into an asset for our wholesale customers?
We’re working through a number of discussions surrounding these questions and more. I admit that we don’t have all the answers and will need to rely on the conversations we have with our customers to get at the really good answers.
I’m speaking at the Domain Roundtable – my sessions include “State of the Domain Name Industry in 2006”, “Whois – Past, Present and Future” and “Reselling Registration Services”. They should be a blast – especially the Whois one where I expect that the political aspects will make for a contentious debate. The rest of the conference track looks pretty good as well. The organizers indicated that they have twice as many people in attendance over last year. Well done.
I read with some stupification that Bruce Perens has launched “opensourceparking.com”. Not sure what his goal is – OpenSRS, Domain Direct and thousands of other internet service companies all run on the LAMP stack or variants (for instance, OpenSRS uses Oracle instead of MySQL for instance – whatever floats your boat I say…). In a sense, Bruce is “forking” existing projects with this initiative. Rather than taking a deep breath and trying to figure out what the landscape really looks like and determining what worthwhile projects could use help, he just dove in, dropped some code onto a webserver and issued some press releases. Kind of annoying to those of us that have been doing exactly the same thing for the last ten years. I wish him luck, but I’m still scratching my head.
You might be wondering what happened to the announcement I alluded to last week. Stay tuned. Things are taking *slightly* longer than I want. Maybe I’ll post something later on today. (another hint: the initials for the project are “F.C.” and having nothing to do with Pud.)
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