i2Coalition Member Spotlight Q&A: Namecheap
Founded in 2000, Namecheap offers domain name services such as registration, transfer, privacy protection, and renewal; as well as shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers. Namecheap makes registering, hosting, and managing domains for yourself or others easy and affordable—helping you reach your full potential as an individual or business online.
Namecheap is a member of the i2Coalition, taking part in the Public Policy Working Group and the DNA Working Group to examine policy issues that are important to the domain name and hosting industries.
We caught up with Owen Smigelski, Namecheap’s Head of ICANN Compliance and Relations; and Essie Musailova, Compliance and Relations Manager, to discuss growth, resilience, and a window into the future of managed services.
i2Coalition: Can you give us the elevator pitch for Namecheap?
Owen Smigelski: Our goal is to deliver online products and services that can provide everything that everyone needs to thrive online. We deliver industry-leading customer support with less hassle and lower cost to ensure a free and open Internet accessible to all, with a wide variety of products and services that can help everyone from the individual customer to the largest companies out there get online.
i2Coalition: Your company name suggests simple domain registration, but you offer so much more. How has your mission evolved?
OS: Our founder, Richard Kirkendall, was a domain investor, and he wanted to start his own Internet registrar. Over time, Namecheap evolved into a best-in-service for… everything! Our focus is on more than just offering lower-cost products, but also on adding value for our customers through our products, services and user experiences.
i2Coalition: How have the dynamics around domain names changed in the past few years, and how has that impacted your service offerings?
OS: I think the new gTLDs certainly were a big change. This created more opportunities for individuals and businesses to brand themselves online. Over the years, we’ve observed that certain TLDs have become more prominent, while many are more niche. At Namecheap, we’ve taken cues from our customers and focused on building our portfolio with the TLDs that customers want the most. We’re also looking to what we believe may be the future for our industry, which is decentralized domains via the Handshake domain name protocol. We purchased a stake in Namebase, so we are actively involved in other things just outside of the normal domain name space. We often think about what could be market leaders and market drivers moving forward.
i2Coalition: What impact do you think recent geopolitical events have had on your more recent growth?
OS: You may have heard about our involvement in Ukraine. A sizable proportion of our team has been based for a number of years in Ukraine, so we had some contingency plans in place. We certainly never expected the actual invasion to happen, but we spared no expense or resources in terms of making sure our team was safe, that they were able to relocate if they needed to. If they needed to get out of the country with their families, we did everything we could to help them get out. We’ve established continuity plans to get our team established in other countries and then we continue to support those who have remained inside Ukraine.
i2Coalition: Why did your team find it important to join the i2Coalition?
OS: Why just play the game when you can change the game? Namecheap has always been focused on growth, and we’ve long maintained double-digit growth year after year. As we’ve matured, we asked ourselves, “How can we take our skills and our knowledge and become a recognized leader in the field to achieve more than just our business goals, to benefit the whole industry as well as our customers and all Internet users worldwide?”
Which i2C initiatives connect most deeply with your team’s ethos?
Essie Musailov: We just started with the Public Policy Working Group, and we’re so excited to be part of it. We were shocked at how much information was covered in just one meeting. We knew right away that we were in the right place, because all the members were talking about many things that we at Namecheap were already considering internally, and now we have a greater community to have an outlet for our discussions. We’re also looking forward to getting active in the DNS Issues Working Group. We think that contributing and being part of this group is essential for our team at this point—not just for working with ICANN, but working with the wider stakeholder group and internally on issues of DNS abuse.
i2Coalition: Where does government policy interface with your work on a daily basis?
OS: I think the ongoing EU legislative activity and the GDPR issues have opened our eyes industry-wide to how government involvement can significantly impact our day-to-day operations. One of the reasons to get involved in organizations such as the i2Coalition is to look through that window into what’s there, what’s coming, as well as the opportunities for advocacy and impact on the decisions that could affect not just Namecheap but also the industry in general.