Former Twitter CEO Evan Williams: 5 reasons domains getting less important

Twitter CEO Evan Williams

Former Twitter CEO Evan Williams wrote an article earlier today putting down domain names, saying the perfect domain name was less important than it used to be, and and it will continue to become less important.

According to Evan, there are five reasons why domain names will become less important.

First, Google is how normal people get around the web.

Second, Auto-Complete Address Bars.  You don’t really have to remember anything, not even domain names.

Third, Mobile Web Browsers and Hidden Address Bars.  Evan’s own conspiracy theory is that Google has a secret plan to kill domain names all together and make sure all navigation goes through them.

Fourth, Apps.  The domain name is unimportant with installable apps. 

Fifth, Alternative Successes.  The non-perfect .com is also acceptable these days, Evan claims. After all he says, Facebook used to be at thefacebook.com.

The main point of his argument is that while a good .com name is still worth a lot, it’s not as crucial to success on the internet as it used to be, but you have to read through the whole post to get the message in his conclusion. 

But despite all the talk of domain names ”becoming less important”, in his own words Evan writes, he’d still opt (and pay up) for a nice, clean .com if he could.  Among Evan’s own domain holdings are obvious.com

If you recall, Evan purchased the domain Twitter.com for $7,500 back in the day - giving the original project code name for the microblogging service “twttr” a much needed web facelift.

** 

Hat tip to David for finding this article and emailing me earlier today.  David suggests Evan should put this to the test and agree to let any random person choose any random domain name for Evan’s next startup.

I’m biased towards domain names, but Evan Williams does carry quite a bit of credibility on the internet. 

Not only has he founded several successful companies on the internet, two of them ended up being in the top ten according to Alexa’s site ranking: Blogger and Twitter.  He is even credited with inventing the term “blogger” and helped to popularize the term “blog”. 

As of today’s Alexa ranking, Blogger is #8, while Twitter has fallen out of the top ten, down to #11.

Readers: Do you agree or disagree with Evan?  Are domains becoming less important?

[UPDATE:  Wed June 23, 2011 5:07 PM  EST: I just noticed that other domain bloggers like HybridDomainer have also covered this story, and the list of blogs particularly within the domain space voicing their opinion will (and should) probably grow.]

9 comments
Fusible.com
Fusible.com

Tweet it to Evan and see if he replies :)

Fusible.com
Fusible.com

Looks like he's explaining the same now on his Twitter page @ev

RJ
RJ

Less important, sure.  Unimportant, not a chance.  

mike
mike

ok this is my suggestion for his next startup: kjlkjgdfg87dgdlkjhdg87dfg87dgd.com

Henry Alvarido
Henry Alvarido

The problem with Google, Bing, or Yahoo search is that they are always changing, so you can do a great job on your website SEO and be on page 1 or 2 and the next day Google does a change and you are no were to be found! So if your website does not have a great domain name(one, two or three word .com or a keyword .net, .org, .us or your country .ccTLD) you are in trouble because you will not be found and your customer will not remember what dot what you are. So spend your money on a good .com or a good .net, .org or .us domains that your customers will remember, easy to spell. The new TLD's will only make the .com value go UP! With 100's of new .whatever TLD's the public with still go to the .com and you will lost so much money in sells and advertising.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Building an internet business online still requires the domain to do it right.  Sure you can build stores within stores on other networks but building a valuable business requires a destination location for operations, management, marketing, sales, support, etc.  While apps are great, the learning curve, talent and other limitiations in building better web apps, verses better landing pages on a great domain is alot harder.  When you have a support issue, does the customer have to use the app?  What is the app is not available on the device but the user/customer is in another country traveling and uses the web-based domain name/browser to login anywhere on any device, app independant.   I think domains still have another good 8-10 year run as technology within the domain space, especially the stuff were doing at domainpower.com, a domain holdings company, is going to accelerate the value of a domain as a technology platform of choice.  Domains become less important when there are other options sure but history shows that they rarely go down in usage but up as new users come online and google, while they own the search market, Its hard to build, operate and scale using just google.  Why would one want to build a business reliant on an outside company control.  We use google for many apps, but my choice the next 5 years is to build businesses on my key domain and extend out from the domain as its my operating system and central hub.   Connectivity and browsers are and will only expand and the domain is an app itself that once you build it, your global and not relying on distribution onto sites like appstore for success.  Domains have another 10 years left at least as its a great alternative asset class that continues to outperform stocks, commodites and other assets in the value creation/roi.  Mobile is growing fast, as it should but changing end user behavior takes time.  Plan for both and do it right by buying and building your business on the best domain possible and expand your offering through apps and other channels but start with the domain as it is the operating system.  Twitter would not be twitter without the domain, Google operates mainly through the domain.  Very few apps are apps only and I would guess almost every success app has a webpage/domain.  Technology injection into the domain space is about to erupt and create the true value of a web-based, ip distribution network called the Internet, centered around domains.

rob
rob

All arguments I've seen before.  All those things are in place today, so why aren't domain names already obsolete then?  Why do domains sell every week for hundreds, thousands and millions of dollars? The points he mentioned shave a little off the use of domains, but don't replace them in any way. His fifth point still relies on using a domain name. If he is talking about the 'perfect' domain not being as important, that is just a necessity because perfect domains are already being used, or command very high prices in the aftermarket.