Automattic Becomes a Domain Registrar

As some folks have noticed already, Automattic is now a “real” domain registrar (ID #1531). This has been a goal of mine for several years now, chiefly because I am a bit of a domain collector myself and I’ve never been completely satisfied with the domain buying or management experience on any of the usual players. Second, custom domains are a popular feature on WordPress.com and should become even more popular with some changes we’re introducing this month and it’ll be good to be able to provide a fully integrated experience for our users there. It’ll be a few months while we build all the tools necessary to begin taking advantage of our registrar status so in the meantime we’ll continue to use Godaddy, who has been an excellent partner.

74 thoughts on “Automattic Becomes a Domain Registrar

  1. Wow…I couldn’t be happier with this move. I plan to switch the next time I renew. Any idea of pricing? Are you going to be competitive with GoDaddy?

    1. Sadly 2 character TLDs are country codes
      Its not allocated!
      – can we declare wp a country and secede from all other jurisdictions. A sort of Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI)
      I could see a big fight with IANA and ICANN. :)

    1. Yep. Right now we allow mapping, meaning you keep the domain at your current registrar and just point it at WordPress.com, but once we build better management tools it makes sense for some folks to transfer in as well.

  2. you guys should let users map custom domains for free i know it is one of the few business things for you but almost everybody else lets it blogger, tumblr, posterous except wordpress.com which is quite popular

    1. Actually Posterous charges 34.99 for domain registration, Weebly is also pretty high. Mapping is less or free, but that seems to set up the logical motivation for someone to register their domain elsewhere and just map it. I’d like for them to be comparable from a cost point of view.

  3. This sounds like a great move, congrats! Can you tell us if there will be any benefit to a .org WP user using the Automattic domain registrar service?

    Reseller program? Integrated with .org profile management?

  4. Great move Matt!

    Now that you’re accredited, have you checked out the OpenSRS domain registrar service?

    OpenSRS has a number of well known accredited registrars already (some very large ones in fact). As a WordPress / Automattic fan myself, it would be awesome to have you on board. Here’s some more info: http://www.opensrs.com/services/registrars

    Cheers,
    Ben Lucier
    Community Guy
    OpenSRS / Tucows

  5. I echo the frustrations about poor domain management features. Particularly when it comes to managing domains in batch.

    Every registrar is way too marketing-centric and not user-centric enough.

    Can’t wait for Automattic’s service to go live!

    1. there are several registrars that offer batch-management options – rebel.com (with a very usercentric UI) and dd24.net are just two of them, though I’m sure there are more out there.

      still, i’m sure that Automattic will definitely bring a new approach into the business and am very much looking forward to see their registration services go live.

  6. Will you be able to provide domain extensions beyond the traditional 3? And any word on international domain extensions?

    And will you help us migrate our domains off of GoDaddy? ;-)

  7. A word from the wise from somebody who works for a registrar and has worked on integrating with an awful lot of registries: as you’ll need to run your own whois server for the thin registries such as .com, .net, &c. (i.e. Verisign), be nice to other registrars and use an easy-to-parse whois result format. This is necessary for easy inter-registrar transfers.

    Examples of decent formats would by my own employers, blacknight.com, joker.com, key-systems.net, &c. I, of course, have a personal preference. :-) For what it’s worth, ICANN were extremely happy with the format we chose to use.

    Of course, all of this assumes you’re running your own system rather than using an off-the-shelf one or that of some existing registrar.

  8. @blogie Matt would never be able to get .wp as two-letter TLDs are exclusively for ccTLDs and unless he manages to establish his own internationally-recognised state, the question’s moot. :-)

    Now .blog? That could be a gTLD, but ICANN politics for establishing a new TLD are byzantine at best, though this is no bad thing.

  9. Congrats Matt!

    If comparable in price, I would move my domains (100+) to WordPress. I hate sending the perverts at GoDaddy my money. Plus, I use WP everyday and want to help it grow and prosper.

    Please post further details as soon as you can!

    Thanks!

  10. Whoa… this is ground breaking… With integration into WHMCS and competitive pricing, there’d be no reason to go anywhere else. I hope that your tools and plans involve both…

  11. Now that is interesting news… It’s always nice to see the love and effort that goes into all things Automattic.

    Keep up the good work.

  12. Awesome! So now, instead of referring people to Dreamhost, Bluehost, etc, are you planning a hosting service for WordPress.org software?

    1. Nope, being a domain registrar has nothing to do with that. Automattic already runs a hosting service, it’s called WordPress.com.

      1. WordPress.com isn’t a hosting service… I can’t install plugins, edit themes, or use FTP there. J is asking if you are going to launch a hosting company like Netfirms or WiredTree.

        I guess the answer is no. :)

      2. Yes, I am aware of both your points. Just thought you might offer a more full-service (or self-service as it were) hosting option in the future. But I guess not. I am a big fan of WordPress and would rather give my money to you guys. Thanks Matt.

    1. Cost is actually pretty high, and getting higher every year because of the way the system works. Most people sell them at a loss and make it up in up-sells.

      1. I looked it up and it looks like you have to pay $2500 up front, $4000 per year, $500 per TLD, a variable quarterly fee plus quarterly TLD fee, 18 cents per transaction, carry $500,000 in insurance, and maintain $70,000 in capital. Verisign controls .com and charges registrars $7.34 per domain per year.

        I guess $7.67 for a one-year .com registration with GoDaddy is about as good as it gets, then.

      2. Not if you know what you’re doing with the registries, and hardly any registrars offer below cost domains except as a special offer. Registrars who *appear* to be selling for below cost aren’t: they have a special deal with the registry, and only have that because they have particularly good relations with that particular registry, and that only applies to registrations, not transfers or renewals. Transfers can easily end up cutting into margins due to support costs.

        Upsells help, but domains as loss leaders only work temporarily.

      3. @Keith I just renewed 6 .coms for 10 years through GoDaddy.com on Oct. 21 for $76.60 ($7.66 / yr), using coupon code …. If you are right, that cost them at least $7.52, but certainly more counting overhead. They also failed to upsell me anything.

        If I were Matt, I would offer general domain registrations, renewals, and transfers of .com domanins for $7.52 a year, subsidized with revenue from Automattic’s other services. Perhaps that’s really bad business sense, but it would generate a lot of good will.

    2. A lot of people would pay $30 a year to never have to login to one of those terrible domain registrars ever again and deal with all the crap. I already pay $35 a year at EasyDNS

      Integrated into wp.com and a nice clean interface – that is a value prop that is worth a lot more than the cost of a domain (which is higher than $7.50 for Automattic, as Matt pointed out)

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