Last week, I joined close to 200 other attendees at the inaugural .nxt conference in San Francisco. The conference, which was sponsored in part by OpenSRS, brought together industry leaders to discuss the impact of ICANN’s new Top Level Domains (TLD) program, which will likely see hundreds of new domain name extensions introduced to the Internet.

The conference featured a wide range of keynote speakers and sessions. Among the highlights was an update on the new TLD process from ICANN SVP Kurt Pritz (pictured below), a keynote by .CO registry CEO Juan Diego Calle on the runaway success of their re-launch, and an executive roundtable discussion (which included our CEO, Elliot Noss) on a wide variety of topics related to new TLDs.

Kurt Pritz Senior Vice President, Stakeholder Relations ICANN speaking
In between the keynotes and excellent hallway conversations, I also attended some great sessions. And at the end of the two-day conference, I went home with several key takeaways:

  • Registrars are keen to carry new TLDs, but will be discerning about which they choose to sell. In the “Working With Registrars” session, I appeared on a panel with representatives from Go Daddy, VeriSign, Oversee and Network Solutions to discuss the opportunities and challenges new TLD operators faced when promoting their extension to registrars. It quickly became apparent that registrars were most interested in offering TLDs that had a compelling value proposition, would be easy to implement, and would be accompanied by strong marketing support.
  • OpenSRS boothPeople are still holding their cards very close to their chest. Obviously, lots of bids have already surfaced (Here’s a Partial List of Potential Applicants). However, some attendees were still hesitant to reveal details about their application. To me, this indicated we may have only seen a small fraction of interested applicants thus far.
  • The launch of new TLDs is not a matter of if, but when. Barring an eleventh-hour turnaround, the new TLD program will be approved and more forward. The next question is: when will it happen? Latest estimates have new TLDs fully operational by 2013, but that’s not a timeline set in stone. More details should emerge following ICANN’s upcoming international meeting in San Francisco.

The conference was a great opportunity to discuss one of the biggest Internet developments in recent years with some of the industry’s leaders. Once ICANN approves the new TLD program, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the announcement of the next .nxt conference.

Thanks to .net conference organizer Kieren McCarthy for the photos of the show and for putting them out under a Creative Commons License.