Interview with CEO Toby Hall from Minds + Machines


In this post we dive into the strategy of registry Minds + Machines. They manage a large portfolio of new gTLDs including the dot city endings .london and .miami plus generic terms such as .beer, .yoga and .law.
In the following newly appointed CEO Toby Hall (the press release came out today), who takes over from Anthony Van Couvering, shares their plans.
Over the last years it has been very interesting to follow the various strategies of the new gTLD registries. Some definitely more successful than others. Now former CEO Van Couvering lists the various strategies in his post I got fired over at Circle ID. Here as a summary of these different strategies:
A. Registry as a technical function: By and large the classic registry, where marketing activities are outsourced to partners / registrars. B. Registry as a domainer play. The registry sells their domains at premium prices. E.g. the retail price for .tickets is +600 USD. C. Registry as supermarket: Sell at very low prices, give them away for free (or even impose them on people's existing accounts) to show large volumes. E.g. .xyz or .top use this strategy. D. Registry as small business: A single TLD registry approach, where you build up slowly growing organically. .Ski comes to mind. E. Registry as part of a bigger plan: The domain name is part of a vaster ecosystem of branding, marketing and even internet governance.

Questions to Toby Hall

Time to ask Toby my questions:

1) Congratulations on your new role as CEO at M+M. I understand that it comes at a time, when the group is changing strategy from "asset gatherer to monetisation of its leading portfolio of top-level domains". Could you explain more about your vision how to create more value from the portfolio?

Sure. As a registry - we have to understand we’re a B2B business that has to work through distribution partners - i.e. the registrars - to get our inventory into the market. That means making sure we have a portfolio of products in place that are truly attractive to distribution partners and allows them to make money. And by “product” I don’t simply mean our TLDs - I mean the packages that surround them to help get our partners get new gTLDs into the hands of the end-customer. We then have to have those sales in place that’s engaging with our distribution partners, learning from them - and the service teams in place to support them. We also have to recognize we’re working in a global market-place. In short, we’re about all about outward engagement, selling.

2) You have talked about "a strategy of partnerships" as a way to enter geographic and vertical markets. Could you give a successful example, which could inspire other new gTLD registries? What has been the learnings from this experience?

Absolutely. Dot Law is a great example of how we are partnering with leading bar associations, and law colleges to drive awareness in a particular vertical. This is a great example of how we believe we can support the distribution channel moving forward.

3) new gTLDs and branding: Could you share with us your view on how new gTLDs help a business to stand out? Do you have some good examples of your clients doing something spectacular in this field?

What we are seeing is two distinct patterns imaging: 1) Major brands starting to use new TLDs as additional sign-posts into specific areas of their existing main site. Amazon is a great example of this. As is the BBC. 2) Then we are seeing the viral take-up of new start businesses simply using them in a new way. .beer and .fashion are teeming with examples of this. However, back to the my earlier response - our customer is not the end-user - it's the distribution channel.

4) new gTLDs and SEO: I saw in the client testimonials that one of your client managed to rank #1 in Google for "shop surf" only one week after launching What is your view on using the nTLDs to rank higher and have you seen some good examples of this?

It’s great that we have these sound bites - and many players across the industry - are able to cite their own examples of great new gTLD adoption. Our focus though is on helping distribution partners make money by getting our extensions into the wild. I am likewise confident that some of the major marketing campaigns that are being planned around specific names - will fundamentally start shifting perceptions in certain verticals. I believe the next 18 months will be an exceptionally exciting period in the evolution of the nTLD environment.

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