Openprovider: 20 years in the domain industry
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This year, we are celebrating our 20th anniversary at Openprovider! In this article, we take a trip down memory lane with our CEO, Arno Vis. We explore how the domain industry has changed in the past 20 years, and, more importantly, what’s coming next!
What sparked the birth of Openprovider 20 years ago?
Arno: Before we built Openprovider, I ran a web hosting company called Netnation Europe, and we found that we were growing particularly fast in the area of domains. We had so many customers who wanted to be able to control domains themselves that we decided to build our own platform to do that. We could also no longer handle the manual work involved with our own domains. So, building Openprovider was the best way to both automate our and our customers’ needs.
How has the domain industry changed in the past 20 years?
Arno: The domain industry has not changed much, but it has evolved a lot. I think the concept of domain names has become bigger and more mature than it used to be. Right now, most registries have fully automated their processes through APIs, but that was not the case twenty years ago. Many – but not all – registries have also made it possible to register all ccTLDs without restrictions.
The introduction of new gTLDs has caused the overall number of TLDs to grow exponentially. This development has changed the market from supply-driven to something more demand-focused. It has also forced gTLDs to be very customer-focused – which is not the case with many ccTLDs today, although that has also improved a lot! On top of that, high-value domain names have also become investment securities. There is now a large aftermarket for these kinds of domain names.
Another important trend is that governments are starting to build more and more regulations around cybersecurity and KYC. This has trickled down into the domain world. Security has become a lot more important in the domain industry and domains themselves have become valuable assets – digital identities. Unfortunately, this also means that issues like phishing scams and domain spoofing have become more frequent and more damaging to businesses and brand reputations.
This development is why security measures are now a core part of our offer at Openprovider. We think it is important that every business should be able to protect its digital identity using security measures like DNSSEC, 2FA, Whois Privacy Protection, registry and registrar-level blocks, DDoS protection, and SSL certificates.
How has Openprovider changed in the past 20 years?
Arno: Openprovider has changed a lot. We evolved from a small, local Dutch registrar to one of the leading domain registrars in the world. We became bigger, better, and more professional in every aspect.
Back when we started, the domain registrar landscape was quite different from what it looks like now. There was hardly any competition. The incumbent wholesalers monopolized the market and greatly overcharged their customers for new domains. We wanted to level the playing field and put the focus on giving our customers great deals and building a sustainable business. So, we introduced our Membership program.
Our Members get access to domains and domain operations at cost price, and discounts on Plesk and security products. We recently launched a new product –our business email solution – and, in recognition of our customers’ loyalty, we made it available exclusively to our Members.
As an organization, we also took a big step by moving to a fully remote business model in 2020. We currently have a team of over 80, who work together asynchronously from 19 different countries across 5 different continents. We strongly believe in the possibilities of remote work to foster productivity and hire amazing people around the globe, no matter where they are located.
What do you think the future holds for Openprovider and the domain industry at large?
Arno: I don’t believe that the domain industry is going to change a lot in the next 5 to 10 years. However, at Openprovider, we will be expanding increasingly from being a domain-focused company to providers of a secure and trusted digital identity. A domain name will still be the “base” of this digital identity, but products and services around security and identity management will become more and more important to us. We are excited about what’s coming, and we recommend you keep an eye on our blogs, LinkedIn page, and newsletters for the latest news!
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