The registry operator for the .CO top-level domain, .CO Internet SAS, has exceeded 1 million domain name registrations, a significant milestone for the company in its efforts to position the domain as a safe, attractive Internet presence option for businesses.
.CO Internet SAS took over administration of the domain in early 2010 from Colombia's University of Los Andes with a commercial strategy to present .CO as a viable alternative to the overcrowded .COM.
It started selling .CO domain names in mid-2010 and has succeeded in getting several marquee customers to buy premium .CO domains -- including one-letter names -- in addition to taking possession of the domains with their brand names.
For example, Overstock paid US$350,000 for O.CO, an address it is using to rebrand the company internationally. Meanwhile, Amazon bought A.CO, Z.CO, K.CO and Cloud.CO, and Twitter acquired T.CO for its URL shortening service.
From the start, .CO Internet SAS took deliberate steps to repel domain name squatters and speculators, including charging higher fees and working with a small number of reseller registrars, such as GoDaddy, and contractually binding them to certain principles and policies.
Earlier this month, the magazine World Trademark Review recognized .CO Internet SAS for having one of the five best in-house trademark teams among Internet companies, along with Amazon, eBay, Yahoo and winner Google.
.CO Internet SAS, which is based in Miami, has sold .CO domain names in more than 200 countries, with the biggest concentration of accounts in North America (50 percent) and Europe (25 percent).
Juan Diego Calle, CEO at .CO Internet SAS, said he didn't expect to achieve the 1 million domain-name milestone so quickly, but that the demand for .CO addresses is understandable.
"Getting to 1 million domain names reinforces the reason why we got into this business in the first place," he said. ".COM is saturated and .CO is taking over where .COM left off."
The company sees big opportunities for growth in the next three to five years, especially in regions like Asia and Latin America.