Sunday, May 28, 2000

What's in a Net name? Everything

By Todd Spangler
The Associated Press

        PITTSBURGH — What comes first, the dot or the com? The answer, in corporate America, had better be both.

        Businesses are jumping onto the Internet, but many find that the domain names, or Web addresses, that they want are already taken. And some are changing their corporate names and images to match the domains they can get.

        “If your company identity and your domain name have a slight difference, you're indicating to people you don't have your act together,” said Griffin Stenger of Concept Farm in New York. “Domain names are much more than an address. It's all things in one: your brand, your reason for being.”

        The recent volatility in high-tech stocks has done little to change demand for domain names. Salvatore Cicero, editor of Domain Name News in Hartford, Conn., said that even if tech stocks have fallen in value, corporate leaders still believe the Internet represents the future when it comes to reaching consumers. They expect computers eventually to be like television sets, with one in practically every home in America.

        “And a good domain name is always going to bring traffic. The more consumers you have, the more business you're going to have,” Mr. Cicero said.

        But with so many Internet names taken, many companies are learning that their corporate IDs had better match their domain names — or a Web surfer won't be able to find their sites.

        The choice, according to corporate executives, marketing consultants and companies who specialize in registering domain names, is relatively simple: Either pay thousands or even millions of dollars for the name that you want, or settle on a domain name — the equivalent of a Web address — you can afford and change your corporate identity, logo and letterhead.

        Lou Piconi, chief executive of Pittsburgh-based, had an idea for a company to be called “Digital Triangle” that would specialize on supplying secure business tools on the Web. The problem was, “Digital Triangle” was taken.

        He tried to negotiate with the owner.

        “We started with a couple of hundred bucks. He got to the place where he was asking for $100,000,” Mr. Pi coni said. “We decided not to go with that name.”

        Mr. Piconi and consultants his firm hired decided to go with “” And that was only after looking at as many as 100 new names.

        The new company had to reincorporate, change its bank accounts and get rid of promotional T-shirts that had been printed.

        “We were just backed into a corner. There was nothing else we could do,” Mr. Piconi said.

        There's no trick to getting a domain name. One of the most popular sources, Network Solutions, allows you to register your name for two years, for $70.


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