‘What’s in a domain?’ That’s something people rarely think about. What is the role of a domain extension or TLD? Who owns the TLDs? Who markets them?
To get answers to these questions, I reached out to 🤩 Neha Naik, Vice President, Channel Partnerships at Radix. I was interested to learn more about her role as well as how a domain registry operates as a business.
I couldn’t have picked someone more suitable to explain how they approach TLDs at Radix. Neha’s been with the Directi Group, Radix’s parent company, for 17 years, and when I asked if she could share something about her that her colleagues do not know she responded ”I’ve known my colleagues for so so long now, that I really don’t think I have anything to surprise them with. They know me all too well.”
Neha recently joined the Internet Infrastructure Coalition board taking part in shaping how the web is evolving. Her journey is as exciting as she is in person and I hope you get to see her at a coming NamesCon or Cloudfest conference, as she’s also a great speaker.
Enjoy the read!
Can you explain your role at Radix as VP of Channel Partnerships?
As a Registry, we don’t sell domains to the end user directly. What we do is we partner with domain name providers, the likes of GoDaddy or NameCheap. These partners make the TLDs available to their customers.
I lead Channel Partnerships for Radix. As a team, we build and manage our partnerships with domain name providers. Our goal is to make sure that when customers come to their websites (like on GoDaddy.com or Ionos.com), they see the Radix TLDs like .online, or .store as options to choose from.
That’s where the Partnerships team comes in. We work together with our partners to find a path that adds value to them and their customers.
Along with the Channel Partnerships team, there’s a huge part of the team that’s focused on building a brand for each of our TLDs. So, over time when somebody goes to GoDaddy, for example, they’d want a .store domain or they’d want a .online domain. How can we make it such that they’re familiar with the TLD? They’ve seen it somewhere, they know about it – so when they come looking to build an e-commerce website, they choose a .store.
Does this mean each TLD is treated as a product/brand?
Exactly. There’s a big part of the team that’s actually focused on building out each of our TLDs as a brand. The goal is to build awareness for these TLDs so that we see more adoption, more usage, and more recognition.
Our portfolio of 10 TLDs is our biggest strength – we have .store, .online, .tech, .site to name a few. We’ve seen demand for these TLDs grow over time, we’ve seen renewals come through and we’ve seen usage. From the largest consumer tech show (www.ces.tech) to world-renowned celebrities (www.rihanna.store) to key public figures (www.michelleobamabooks.store), we have some of the world’s most popular brands and personalities on our TLDs.
There’s already this mutually beneficial path: what we’re offering our partners is good quality TLDs for their customers. It all comes together and I think that’s always our approach. We have partnership programs, which is the foundation, but more importantly, the product market fit exists.
Which of the TLDs was the most expensive to acquire?
I won’t be able to share specifics on the acquisition costs, but .store and .online were the most expensive TLD acquisitions for Radix.
What are some of Radix’s goals as a registry business?
For some context, Radix is the largest new TLD portfolio registry. We have 10 TLDs but we manage about 6.2 million domains through those TLDs. These large numbers are great and we keep chasing a higher volume but what really matters to us are the renewals.
Over the years, we pivoted to tracking renewals and tracking our market share of renewals. Out of every 100 domains that are renewing, what percentage of those are Radix domains? Then we set our internal goals aligning with that. Obviously, we still track the number of registrations, but it’s not the most important metric for us.
We’re very data-driven, and look at a bunch of metrics – for instance, we’re tracking usage and we’re tracking lifetime value. We’ve built all of these measuring tools from the ground up over the last 10 years. Not just internally, but we’re also tracking market data – primarily from the perspective of weighing where we stand and what our goals need to be.
We also believe in the OKR framework. Every year, we set out our annual objectives and key results, and we set out our quarterly objectives. We have tons of dashboards that are built on top of the data we have, and we are very focused on measuring progress through all these systems.
How many employees does Radix have?
We are at around 70 to 75 in the team. We are spread across different geographies. There’s a large part of our team in Mumbai in India. There’s a bunch of us in Dubai and then we have a few remote employees in Canada and in the US, China, and Brazil.
What domain-related content (newsletters, publications, Twitter accounts) are part of your daily following?
For domain industry news – Domain Name Wire and DN Journal – they’re the industry’s go-to blogs! Outside of the industry I really enjoy Lenny’s podcast by Lenny Rachitsky for everything product, marketing, pricing. It gives you insight into some of the largest and up-and-coming businesses and startups that we interact with in our daily lives.
Radix turned 10 years last year. What do you think makes for the company’s success so far?
As a business, Radix was a relatively lesser-known brand when we started off – we were up against Google, Amazon, and several domain industry stalwarts. We were always there to acquire quality and broad-based TLDs, which is why we focused on .online/store/site/tech and we ended up with a great portfolio of 10 TLDs – which is our biggest strength.
This is backed by a great team of motivated, talented folks that have built the foundation of the business. We have some amazing people at Radix. Culturally, right from the beginning, we incorporated this need to grow, the need to do things differently, and the need to excel in whatever we take up. We’re striving constantly to do better than we did before.
As I said, we’re rooted in data – everything we do is experimental but also closely tracked and zeroed in on the metrics that matter the most. We are aggressive and will take risks – but our decisions are based on data and hypotheses that we prove out and then go big! Being data-driven we have built platforms and tools where we can draw on insights and scale what works.
I would say that the people and the approach have probably been the two most important foundation stones for Radix’s success.
Also, our partnerships have always been built on the basis of what we can do together and how we can grow together for the long term. We understand that our business, being B2B, is entirely partner dependent, and so we want to see our partners succeed.
What do you wish more people knew about domain names?
Domains are so versatile in terms of how they can be used – they don’t have to be just websites or email addresses. You can use them to point to any location on the internet for purposes like your personalized LinkedIn page, your Zoom link, or your social profile.
Domains move with you and are platform agnostic – you own it and everything that happens on it without being dependent on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or TikTok. With the changes in rules and access on these platforms, as a creator or a business owner, you’re always going to be at the mercy of what these platforms dictate.
Domains are your identity online, and they move with you, no matter where you go!
It was great talking to Neha and learning about the operations of a business that is integrated at the core of how the internet works. Thanks for developing the web for us all!
If you enjoyed this interview, check out the previous one with Ron Stefanski. He talks about the role of the domain name in his business and strategies for growing it.
👉 Lastly, if you know someone that is doing interesting stuff online, please reach me here and I will be happy to talk to them.