Building your business on digital quicksand

Yesterday, I had lunch with friend who founded a company that provides a service to crypto exchanges. He's been following Blockstack intently over the years and was keen to hear the latest. His interest in and enthusiasm about our project was flattering. I was curious as to what about the project excited him today and kept him excited over the years. Since he's a lawyer by training, I suspected that he would say that he was excited about Blockstack because of Muneeb and the Blockstack PBC’s team groundbreaking regulatory and compliance work in the US.

Instead, to my surprise, he started talking about how excited he was about how we’re taking on ICANN and building an alternative to the legacy domain name system.

“It's insane that domain names expire,” he said. “You buy a domain name, build a business around it, and, then, if the name expires, you lose the name and your business.”

He saw a domain name as a piece of digital land in cyberspace that you should be able to own…free and clear…instead of lease at the pleasure of some self-appointed feudal lords.

There are a lot of strong arguments for the expiration of domain names. The rent collected can be used to fund the operation of the system. It’s a spam prevention mechanism, just like burning Stacks tokens are in Blockstack.

There are also a lot of downsides. Since you are leasing a name owned and ultimately controlled by someone else, you’re exposed to the risk that the name could be taken away from you. You’re also exposed to the risk that the domain register could significantly increase the price of the name around which you’ve built your business. Wouldn’t it be unfortunate if the name you registered for $9.99 suddenly costs a percentage of your global revenue on renewal?