According to CEO Juan Diego Calle, the goal of .CO is not to become the next .com.
“We don’t want to be .com. .com is what happened in the last 25 years,” he said today in a fireside chat at Tech Cocktail Celebrate. “It’s about attracting certain types of individuals that are disruptive, that are forward thinkers . . . that don’t want to be associated with the domain name for your parents.”
He compared it to the challenge of cities like Miami or Las Vegas in attracting different types of entrepreneurs to startup there, rather than choosing Silicon Valley.
.CO manages the top-level domain .CO and has registered over 1.6 million domains. Over three years old, it’s becoming known as the domain name for innovators and entrepreneurs. .CO companies can access resources on i.go.co for networking, education, and promotion; and POP.co lets you set up a .CO site with email and Google apps in minutes.
This community-centric approach is how .CO has aimed to differentiate itself. Instead of just being a utility, they put a human face on .CO by connecting personally with .CO companies and connecting them to each other. They’ve done funny commercials with GoDaddy and bring their bright orange sunglasses, hats, and gear around the country.
With its focus on community vision, says Calle, .CO is similar to the Downtown Project. “You have what is essentially empty wasteland and you have to build it into a vibrant community,” he said.
But as 2014 arrives, .CO will be facing some new competition. New domain extensions are being approved as we speak, and choices like .org and .net could give way to crazy alternatives like .beer and .cat. That means more competition for .CO, but also more awareness that .com isn’t the only game in town.
Before .CO, Calle sold his advertising network TeRespondo to Yahoo! While .CO isn’t targeted only on Latin America, it still allows Calle to make the most of his roots: he was born in Colombia, the country originally assigned the .CO domain extension. When Calle left Colombia at age 15, his father gave him the advice to “never look back.” And with everything that’s going on with .CO, it’s clear that he’s got his sights set on the future.
.CO is a Tech Cocktail partner.