Top Level Design
|Founded||Portland, Oregon, United States (2012 )|
|Products||.design, .ink and .wiki domains|
Top Level Design is a company based in Portland, Oregon, in the United States, and the domain name registry for the generic top-level domains (gTLD) .wiki, .ink and .design. Ray King serves as its chief executive officer (CEO).
Top Level Design was founded in 2012 by Portland entrepreneur Ray King after he stepped down as CEO of AboutUs, a company he founded in 2006. King partnered with his brother-in-law and investor Peter Brual, who served as an advisor to AboutUs. Top Level Design was created to become a domain name registry for multiple generic top-level domains (gTLD). In 2012, domain industry websites reported that the company had applied for ten gTLDs: .art, .blog, .design, .gay, .group, .ink, .llc, .photography, .style and .wiki. King later revealed that, because the company began as a family project, the gTLDs applied to by Top Level Design reflect both personal and business interests. Industry sources also confirmed that CentralNic would serve as Top Level Design's backend registry provider and Iron Mountain Incorporated would provide escrow services. The company's applications were further confirmed by The Oregonian and Portland Business Journal in April 2013. In an interview published by The Oregonian, King expressed his hope that Top Level Design would "help shape [the] new era" of top-level domains, saying they were "going to change the complexion of the Internet, at least the naming complexion of the Internet, quite a bit."
Top Level Design is the domain name registry for .wiki, .ink and .design. It is no longer in contention for .group, .photography or .style, following private auctions. As of November 2014, the company is still in contention for the gTLDs .art, .blog, .gay and .llc.
Ray King, CEO, Top Level Design
On November 7, 2013, ICANN and Top Level Design entered into a "Registry Agreement", officially allowing the company to operate as the registry for .wiki. ICANN and Top Level Design entered into a "Registry Agreement" for the .ink gTLD on December 5, 2013. Both gTLDs were uncontested. Following the acquisitions, King told CMSWire, "You can generalize that neither [.wiki or .ink] will be one of the biggest [g]TLDs because strings like .art, .music and .blog all received multiple applications". However, he continued, many people "from within [the domain] industry tell me that .wiki is their dark horse for a successful [g]TLD," because ".wiki" describes the site format. "So, when I go to craftbeer.wiki, I can expect a vibrant site with passionate folks discussing all things relevant to brewing beer. This is not the case with craftbeer.com or craftbeer.guru, where you could be accessing a storefront, a blog, a brewery tourguide or any number of things."
In January 2014, .wiki was named one of the "Top 10 gTLDs to Watch in 2014" by ClickZ for having the "potential to provide great secure, shared workspaces for companies large and small". By mid-March, Top Level Design had signed agreements with more than 120 domain name registrars to retail .wiki names. It was announced in May that the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization which hosts Wikipedia and other projects, would use "w.wiki" as a URL shortener. The Foundation also endorsed Top Level Design's proposal to ICANN's Registry Services Evaluation Process to unblock 179 two-letter strings representing language codes (all two-character strings are blocked under ICANN's standard Registry Agreement). wiki domain registrations were available to only trademark holders until May 5; they became available to the general public on May 26, 2014. According to Domain Name Wire, more than 3,000 .wiki domains were registered on the first day of general availability.
The .ink gTLD caters to the printing, publishing and tattoo industries, and individuals in involved with ink, including typographers and artists. It has been called a "niche name with multiple connotations". King has said of the extension, which he believes will also appeal to bloggers, design studios and writers: "Any of those companies or people that are using ink to put their message out in the work. It’s signifying permanence. There is no reason not to get a name that more accurately describes your business, including of course ink makers." The gTLD launched on June 23, 2014. King, with assistance from two heavily tattooed models, literally “pressed the launch button” to promote .ink at the ICANN 50 conference in London. In August, the Daily Star included the .ink extension in their list of "Top 10 tattoo trends". In April 2015, The Domains reported that less than 50% of .ink domains were parked.
In September 2014, Top Level Design outbid six other applicants in a private auction for the domain .design.
In October 2013, King revealed in a guest column for PQ Monthly, an LGBT publication for Oregon and Southwest Washington, that he was inspired to apply for .gay by his late gay brother-in-law Clyde and other family members. In the column, King outlined why he wanted the gTLD to remain open in order to benefit the global LGBT community, using three main concepts: "Freedom of Choice", meaning the purpose of gTLDs like .gay and .lgbt should not be defined by gatekeepers; "Freedom of Speech", or not allowing censorship of content appearing on .gay domains; and the "Freedom to Register", suggesting there should not be a barrier to authenticate oneself as gay to register a .gay domain. In the latter concept, King argues against the need for domain purchasers to become a member of an "Authentication Partner" (LGBT organizations like the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association or Human Rights Campaign), who would be required to create usernames and passwords for all of their members. According to King, "This means higher costs, disenfranchising many potential registrants such as youth and people in developing countries and also, forced identification, which to some may be anywhere from distasteful to outright dangerous. Further, there are many LGBTQ folks who simply do not wish to participate in formal organizations." The column concluded by asking community members to express their support or opposition of an open .gay gTLD. The following month, Q Center, an LGBT community center in Portland, published arguments by King on behalf of Top Level Design and Jamie Baxter on behalf of dotgay LLC; both groups expressed why they should be the registry for .gay, and were seeking community support. Slate magazine also covered the .gay contention. dotgay LLC's community application was denied by ICANN's Community Priority Evaluation committee in October 2014.
- Allemann, Andrew (September 25, 2014). "Top Level Design wins .design contention set". Domain Name Wire. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Allemann, Andrew (June 11, 2012). "SnapNames co-founder Ray King behind registry applying for 10 top level domains". Domain Name Wire. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Rogoway, Mike (April 23, 2013). "Ray King steps down as AboutUs CEO, starts new Portland venture". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon: Advance Publications. ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- King, Ray (October 18, 2013). "Guest Opinion: .Gay and the LGBTQ Community". PQ Monthly. Portland, Oregon: Brilliant Media. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved October 3, 2014. Note: Posted by Nick Mattos.
- Benish, Kelly (April 26, 2013). "Openings & New Hires at Amazon, AOL, WebMD, Edmunds, Swipely and more…". Street Fight. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Murphy, Kevin (June 11, 2012). "ICANNWiki boss applies for 10 gTLDs". DomainIncite. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Kish, Matthew (April 23, 2013). "Ray King steps down as CEO of AboutUs". Portland Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Berkens, Michael (July 22, 2014). "Amazon Settles a New gTLD Contention Set By Private Auction As Donuts Wins .Group". The Domains. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Ó Muíneacháin, Conn (July 4, 2014). "Interview with Ray King of .Ink and .Wiki (Audio)". Blacknight. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Murphy, Kevin. "Battles for .chat, .style, .tennis, bingo and .sas over". Domain Incite. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
- Berkens, Michael (March 11, 2014). "Apple, Weather Channel, Ericsson, Hallmark, Chanel: Brands Are Getting Their .Wiki". The Domains. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- ".wiki Registry Agreement". ICANN. November 7, 2013. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- ".ink Registry Agreement". ICANN. December 5, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Levine, Barry (July 10, 2014). "Google Enters Domain Market". CMSWire. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Wolfe, Jennifer. "Top 10 gTLDs to Watch in 2014". ClickZ. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Murphy, Kevin (May 5, 2014). "Wikipedia to get single-letter .wiki domain". DomainIncite. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- "ICANN Registry Request Service: 2 Character Domains for .wiki" (PDF). ICANN. 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014.[permanent dead link]
- Allemann, Andrew (April 29, 2014). "3 new domain registries ask ICANN for two character domain names". Domain Name Wire. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Allemann, Andrew (May 28, 2014). "Let's collaborate on .wiki: A look at who registered .wiki domains". Domain Name Wire. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Merriam, Andrew (May 3, 2014). "Guest Post: An Insider's Guide to .Wiki Landrush". The Domains. Retrieved October 3, 2014. Note: Posted by Michael Berkens.
- Haggerty, Angela (May 7, 2014). "Half of UK and US consumers feel they have 'little to no opportunity' to collaborate with brands online, YouGov study shows". The Drum. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Mottram, Harry (September 12, 2014). "Putting the ink into your website". Print Monthly. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Murphy, Kevin (December 6, 2013). "Donuts' portfolio swells as ICANN signs 31 new gTLD contracts". DomainIncite. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- "Website domain extension created for the printing industry". Digital Printer. July 21, 2014. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Allemann, Andrew (June 24, 2014). "Pictures from the biggest domain name event ever". Domain Name Wire. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- "Printers get naming options to stand out online". Print Business. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Mitchell, Laura (August 5, 2014). "Glow in the dark, white ink and celebrity clones: Top 10 tattoo trends". Daily Star. London United Kingdom: Northern & Shell. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- Berkins, Michael (April 10, 2015). "New gTLD's Registrations Top 5 Million; .Science & .Link Break 100K: We Break Down the Numbers". The Domains. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- King, Ray (November 21, 2013). "Queer Voices – Top Level Domains: The Future Of ".gay" (Perspective A)". Q Center. Retrieved October 2, 2012.
- Baxter, Jamie (November 21, 2014). "Queer Voices – Top Level Domains: The Future Of ".gay" (Perspective B)". Q Center. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- Naimark, Marc (November 20, 2013). "How the ICANN Top-Level Domain Scheme Puts LGBTQ Organizations at Risk". Slate. Graham Holdings Company. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- "New gTLD Program Community Priority Evaluation Report Report Date: 6 October 2014" (PDF). ICANN. October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
- .gay Community Priority Evaluation:
- Murphy, Kevin (October 8, 2014). "Gay community not gay enough to win new gTLD". DomainIncite. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- Allemann, Andrew (October 7, 2014). ".Eco domain name applicant gets community status, .Gay and .Music don't". Domain Name Wire. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
- McCarthy, Kieren (October 8, 2014). "Dot-gay told it's NOT gay enough – but web'll be officially .eco-friendly". The Register. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
- King, Ray (June 4, 2014). "Online brand collaboration: turning customers into advocates". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
- King, Ray (June 11, 2014). "Stop, collaborate and listen: what wikis can do for brand engagement". The Wall. Haymarket Media Group. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- "EuroDNS interview with Raymond King of .Ink and .Wiki". EuroDNS. July 4, 2014. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- King, Ray (July 4, 2014). "Google challenges GoDaddy for domain name supremacy". VentureBeat. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- King, Ray (August 21, 2014). "The Expanding Number of Domain Names Has Benefits From .App to .Zone". Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur Media, Inc. ISSN 0163-3341. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- King, Ray (September 4, 2014). "Leaving .Com Behind: Using TLDs to Better Market an Online Presence". MediaPost. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- King, Ray (September 8, 2014). "Navigating New Internet Domains". InformationWeek. UBM Tech. ISSN 8750-6874. Retrieved October 2, 2014.
- King, Ray (September 8, 2014). "Embracing a new domain". IT Pro Portal. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
- King, Ray (September 12, 2014). "Publishers Can Boost Discoverability with Newly Released Web Domains". Book Business. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- King, Ray (September 23, 2014). "What to Do When the .Com You Want Is Taken?". Wired. Condé Nast. ISSN 1059-1028. OCLC 24479723. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved October 3, 2014.
- Reid, Calvin (November 14, 2014). "Amazon.book and the New Top-Level Domain Names". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved November 14, 2014.