18(a) Describe the mission/purpose of your proposed gTLD
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|.vip||Top Level Domain Holdings Limited||View|
The purpose of the .VIP gTLD is to offer a premium top-level domain for business and thought leaders, prominent politicians, celebrities, influential trend-setters, and leaders in the arts and sciences as designated by a knowledgeable selection committee.
.VIP will fill a niche at the high end of the domain industry, providing second-level domains for a limited number of very influential and important individuals, who may not own their own name under .com or other existing extensions, and for whom a high initiation fee and high yearly use fee is not a barrier. In addition, every year, some .VIP names will be granted free of charge to individuals of significant achievement and some recipients of significant awards from their peers in various industries.
In 1966, American Express introduced the “Gold Card”, an effort to cater to the upper echelon of business travel. This was followed in 1990 by the “Platinum Card” and then in 1999 by the “Centurion” card, otherwise known as the “Black Card”, which caters to an ultra-exclusive clientele.
The success of these different classes of American Express cards is partially explained by how they segment and differentiate the high end of the luxury consumer market. Affluent consumers who are selected to join the “Centurion” or “Platinum” clubs are given nominal concierge and other services with the card – but benefit mainly from what the card represents – a badge that the card holder is a person of substantial means who should be catered to.
As the world moves from plastic credit card identity to Internet identity, the ability to group and segment individuals online is a significant challenge. Companies such as klout.com, which recently raised US$30 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins, is one startup that is addressing this market. Individuals with high Klout scores are being offered free products, discounts and other services in the interest of building marketing awareness of various brands.
A differentiated, hard-to-get domain name is another way to segment domain registrants. Despite their wealth and achievements, many such registrants do not currently own their own domain name in .COM. For example, billgates.com is a parked page on .COM; whereas under .VIP there will only one version of the name “Bill Gates,” and it will go to Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. Another example of this is the musician “Jay Z.” Despite outstanding achievements in music and a net worth of over US$ 450 million, Shawn Corey Carter (Jay Z) does not currently own the domain name jayz.com. Not only Jay Z himself but also his fans and followers are hurt by this situation. With a .VIP extension fans will be able to recognize the true Jay Z site from the hundreds of imposters.
.VIP will offer a select group of individuals the opportunity to join an elite club of .VIP domain holders. Admission to the domain will be decided by a membership committee. Wealth alone will not be sufficient to guarantee acceptance; the membership committee will consider other factors. .VIP is a way to signal, on the Internet, those who have truly made a contribution or impression on the world. Such factors as influence of ideas and achievements in the arts, sciences, popular culture, business, ecology, philanthropy, or humanitarian or heroic acts – as well as wealth – will be considered. We believe that the value of the .VIP brand is critically dependent on high acceptance standards.
The .VIP domain name will be expensive. That is part of its perceived value. But while .VIP will differentiate itself by its upscale membership criteria, the company will also seek to recognize leading scientists, humanitarians, architects, designers and other important figures who stand out for other reasons than pure financial achievement. To this end, a number of .VIP names will be given free of charge for life for a select group of deserving recipients each year. Examples of people who will probably qualify for .VIP include Lady Gaga; Nelson Mandela; Barack Obama; Freeman Dyson; Warren Buffett; Aung San Suu Kyi; the 14th Dalai Lama; Pele; Ai Weiwei; Gabriel Garcia Marquez; Mohamed El Baradei; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Michael Jordan; and Oprah Winfrey.
Examples of people who are well known internationally but will probably not qualify include Dominique Strauss Kahn, Imelda Marcos, Bernie Madoff, and Bashar al Assad.
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