Tim: We are here at the Dot-org booth here at South By Southwest. Why is there a booth here for the .org registry?
Thuy: Good question. The registry of a domain name has always kind of been known as the plumbing of the internet. So no one really knows that there is a company that really runs the internet, the .com, the .net, the .org, but there actually is a company that runs these domain extensions. And again, being the plumbing of your house, it is not the most compelling, but we are stepping a little bit outside of that realm partly because I think the internet is going to change. The internet really is poised in 2014 to really explode. I don’t know if you guys have heard about the expansion of the internet but there are proposed almost 2000 domain names that are coming out brand new. Traditionally, we started with six. We are up to 200 now. And now we are looking at another 2000 that is coming. So part of our job is to be here at South By Southwest and talk about that expansion, talk about .org and some of the things that we are doing during those expansions.
Tim: .org is always used for groups like nonprofits, charities, religious organizations, but that is not actually required?
Thuy: It is not required. It is interesting. We did a focus group, when we asked people, ‘Do you need to be a non-profit to get .org?, and there was a resounding yes. But actually the internet like you’ve seen really self regulates. And in over 27 years, it has organically become this home of the non-profit. But it is not required. So you are right. But again, the internet regulates itself. And so commercial companies tend to go with .com, non-governmental and non-profits tend to go with .org. And that is the way, organically it has developed.
Tim: The Public Interest Registry... is that itself a non-profit?
Thuy: Yes. Absolutely.
Tim: And this is the only top level organization that is a nonprofit?
Thuy: We are not. The .edu is a nonprofit. The registry in the UK I believe that runs the .co.uk is also a nonprofit. In the States, probably it is just us, .edu and .org, I believe are the nonprofits. But don’t quote me on that.
Tim: Okay. One of the things that you mentioned before, that there is a domain that you are introducing; talk about that?.
Thuy: Sure. So part of this expansion that I was talking about with 2000 new domain names coming is .ngo. It is a term that most Americans don’t know. But if you work in the non-profit non-governmental, you actually would have heard of NGO, which stands for non-government organizations. But it is a term that is widely used around the world. So if you go to Asia, Africa, Latin America, basically it is NGOs. It is a self-identifying term, and we felt that as an extension of .org, this made a natural selection to really address the non-profits of the global community. So we are really excited about that.
Tim: The perception that a lot of people already have that like say about.org is really going to beformally true with NGO?
Thuy: Yeah. It is clear, .org had always been an open top-level domain name, .ngo will not be. Our goal is to make sure that when you apply for .ngo that you actually are a .ngo, so it is a closed or some people call it a restricted domain name and that is going to give it a little weight. Because it will be validated. It is almost like having a badge that says I am an NGO, and it has been checked.
Tim: Whose criteria will be applied there?
Thuy: It is interesting you ask that. The criteria is a broad – it is a process of getting the community to identify that, the community being like the UN, individual countries, that have a list of NGOs that are pre-registered, so we will check it against those lists, but really it differs from region to region. I could tell you that the process is not easy, and it is not going to be perfect at the start, but it is our hope that as the community builds on to itself, that over time, this verification and validation process gets easier as more regions, countries participate.
Tim: When will you launch .ngo?
Thuy: It is coming. It is coming quicker than you know. It is going to be here in 2014. Some in 2013.
Tim: Now working for the plumbing equivalent of the internet, how did that come to be?
Thuy: The plumbing of the internet. Okay. I had a coworker that I worked with years ago and he went to work with Public Interest Registry, and he called me up one day and he said,“Thuy you got to come and interview with this company. They run .org.” And I said,“Oh, which one?” And his response to me was “All of them”. I was like,‘What do you mean?’. I had no idea that there was actually a company that ran the entire registry for .org, or .com, or .net. I just assumed that like most people that it was run by hosting companies. You buy a name, a hosting. So the registry business was brand new to me. And he was right. I came and interviewed and it was like a perfect fit, and I felt like this was a good place for me to be.
Tim: Now you are referring to it as a company, and most Americans think of non-profits.
Thuy: It is an organization, yeah.
Tim: Even plumbing has to be paid for. So how does the business model work for the sake of the new NGO extension in particular because these are non-profit, mainly charities and things like that. So how does all the plumbing get paid for?
Thuy: The plumbing gets paid for by the selling of the domain name. So .org is self-funded. As people renew their .org registrations, same thing with NGOs, they buy the domain names, that is how it is going to fund the operation.
Tim: They pay for their own domain names. It is an expense even if they are not themselves making a profit, that is where some of their money goes.
Thuy: Yeah, we are a nonprofit. What we make from the .org and the .ngo extension, we actually donate all of that. Because we can’t keep our profits. And we support organizations like the Internet Society that help to make the internet open and accessible to all.
Tim: What is the relationship between a registrar when it comes to things like ICANN which is really the organizing body, you went through a process where you apply to the dispenser, the DNS is the provider.
Thuy: It is the holder of the domain extension. ICANN, so most people don’t know, ICANN is a governing body, it is a policy, and what they do is they set policies for the internet globally. We have a contract with ICANN to run .org and in the future, .ngo, but they don’t provide technology. We are the technologists that create the connections, the DNS connections, so we are called the registry. Underneath us are retailers. So think of us as a wholesale. Underneath us are retailers. So everyone sort of Godaddy, Network Solutions, so those guys are the retailers. Obviously they buy from us, but they sell all domain extensions. We just happen to be the layer, there’s ICANN, us, and registrars. If that makes any sense.
Tim: If people wanted to learn more, especially the new domains coming out, where would they go?
Thuy: I would go to ICANN.org and they have videos, they have PowerPoint presentations to tell you about why it is coming and what is coming, and I really encourage everyone to check that out.