Start-Up Plans to Sell Web Addresses


Investor Bill Gross is planning one of the most ambitious attempts to bypass the bureaucracy that assigns Internet names, Monday’s Wall Street Journal reported.

A Pasadena, Calif., start-up called New.net, funded by Mr. Gross’s closely held company idealab!, this week plans to begin selling Internet domain names based on 20 new extensions that function like the familiar “.com” and “.net.” New.net’s proposed extensions include “.family,” “.tech,” “.sport” and “.xxx,” and the start-up plans to charge $25 for each name that uses one of the extensions.

The plan is the latest attempt to break a logjam in expanding Web addresses for use by individuals, companies and other organizations. The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, an international nonprofit group established at the urging of the U.S. government, has been overseeing an effort to release new domain extensions since 1998 but hasn’t yet done so. Factors behind the delay in clude fears that speculators would grab names linked to commercial trademarks and difficulties in negotiating contracts with companies picked to register new names.

Icann, as the group is known, manages a network of directory servers that link domain n ames to the numerical addresses of computers connected to the Internet. New.net plans to set up a network of separate servers to manage its new extensions.

That isn’t a new concept. Other companies already are selling domain names outside the Icann str ucture, but they aren’t making much headway. One reason is that they require users to change special settings on their Web-browser programs.

New.net has a different strategy, which relies partly on persuading major Internet service providers to use software that automatically routes users to the new Web addresses.

Copyright (c) 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.