is .so TLD the next .io

I am a fan of startup discovery platforms and networks such as Product Hunt, Beta List, Indie Hackers, Startup Stash and other sites like these. As I frequent these sites a few things have become noticeable to me.

  1. The seemingly increasing number of startups and/or products that are being launched utilizing alternate TLD's such as the new TLD's such as .fun .page .email and so on. Also, not nearly as surprising is the usage of the .io and .co extension. Those domain extensions continue to rise in popularity and have been a legitimate alternative for those who cannot get the .com, net or .org version of their desired brand name.

And

  1. The number of developers/tech companies that have seemed to take a liking to the .so ccTLD. I do not have any hardcore statistics to back up this assertion I am making, just going based on what I am seeing on these platforms. I have noticed more recently than ever before that startups are being launched on this extension and it seems to be (not surprisingly) happening more so with the tech crowd.

What is .so

.so is the internet ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain) for the country of Somalia which is on the northeastern coast of Africa. For a period of time the domain extension was not operational due to the civil war in Somalia but was restored on 11/01/2010.

Why the sudden interest in .so from the tech crowd

So, there are a number of different reasons why a particular ccTLD can have a sudden rise in popularity and have widespread use.

TLD is an actual word or has ulterior meaning: Some ccTLD's are actual words that are very popular in other languages/countries or can have a significant meaning with in a specific industry or group of people. As a result, some extensions can and provide an identity, descriptor or be a representation of who you are, what you do or the industry you are in. For example .co is the country code for Columbia but it is also the abbreviation for company or corporation. The .io extension is the ccTLD for the British Indian Ocean Territory but it is also significant to the tech industry and many with in the industry like the .io because it stands for input/output and IO is commonly used and/or prevalent in computer science. The same goes for other country codes such as .me, .tv, .la, .ai and others.

However, if the tech crowd has taken to the .so extension I do not think it is for this reason. Aside from the extension being a possible candidate for domain hacks, not sure if the extension has some other kind of significant meaning that appeals to tech people. Nonetheless I did look up what the term SO means in computing and this is what I came up with. Sign Out, Serving Office, Scene Object, Self Organizing, Shared Object, Shared Objects, Shift Out, Stack Overflow and Shared object. So...it's possible that it could be related to one of those meanings. Or maybe it's because there are really awesome names that would also make great brand names that they would not be able to get in other popular extensions, which brings us to our next reason.


Availability: We all know that .com is the golden standard and what most people want when they need the matching domain name for their company and/or brand name. When it comes to name branding people typically like real words. Typically names/words that are short, memorable and easy to spellnames like Fire, Stack, Logic, Amazon, Space, Jupiter, Echo, Neo, Phase and so on. There is only one problem though, these type of names are not available to register in .com or any of the other popular extensions like .net, .org, .io and .co; in order to get/register names like that it would demand that someone would have to seek an alternative and one with availability, which .so seems to have plenty of, for now.

So, maybe this recent phenomena of companies being launched on .so domain names is just merely a function of the limited availability in the .com space and it's more financially feasible option at the moment, which brings us to our other reason.


Price: Many of us understand the value of a really good domain name, especially the one word, super awesome name that would make a kick ass brand, that everyone covets. It is that same understanding that is the reason behind why most of the good names are taken and made available for purchase at a price that is significantly higher than the registration price. Depending on the name and extension, prices can range anywhere from 10,000 dollars to 1,000,000 dollars. I'm willing to bet that many of these entrepreneurs who launched their company utilizing a domain name on the .so TLD probably wanted the .com, .net, .io or .co version of the name they ended up with in the .so extension but were either unwilling to pay or were willing but just did not have enough to get their desired name.


All of the above: Usually, all the above mentioned reasons come into play when people launch startups on alternative TLD's. When entrepreneurs elect to use an alternative domain extension it is primarily because the .com version of the name they wanted is not available or it is available and they are just unwilling to pay to obtain the domain or just cannot afford to buy the name. As the .com space becomes more and more crowded, so too does viable .com runner ups, thus forcing this continual movement for other suitable TLD options.

Think about it, the whole re-branding/re-purposing of ccTLD and even the arrival of new TLD's was born out of scarcity and demand for more and/or better alternatives. Which is how you get techies, gamers and startups using .io, .co and .gg or media types and streaming companies using .tv, so and so forth. Now, just got to figure out what the deal is with .so (if there is one).


It does not surprise me that the tech and/or developer community have possibly taken a liking to the .so extension. This behavior is commonplace with in the tech industry because they tend to understand domains better than most and are willing to go out on a limb and build their business and brand on these various ccTLD's at the risk of being able to have a one word (typically a short word) domain name that would also make a great company/brand name. I think it is pretty cool what they are doing and have a healthy respect for the tech/developer community.

Below are some notable sites and/or companies using the .so domain extension.

Cheating again by listing a re-direct but just thought it was interesting that they have hire.so redirecting to this site. Just makes you wonder if it was once hire.so and they pivoted to HiringSolved.com, which is also an excellent brand name.

Dev.so is another redirect but I thought it was interesting that it redirects to a .dev site.