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Show HN: NameTerrific - Domain names for geeks (nameterrific.com)
53 points by zhoutong on Nov 5, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 26 comments

This looks very cool Ryan - congrats on the launch! It's instantly appealing to me, and I fully understand the motivation. NameCheap, while an awesome domain name provider, still feels a bit "hackey" in their UI. It works, but it feels odd. This appeals to me more -- like Stripe for domain names.

I'm going to be perfectly honest with you: The fact that you list that you're a one-man operation, that you're 18 years old, and that you say you "achieved financial independence at the age of 16" is a big turn-off to me.

I know it shouldn't be. I don't want it to be. I'm sure you've built an awesome product/service. But I also know what I was like when I was 18, and I know how much I thought I knew and how I appeared to others.

But I can't lie -- this would prevent me from using the service at the moment. My domain names are very important -- and it raises too many questions. Did you master the security side of things? Have you considered all potential points of failure? Have you vetted this with folks with more experience in the industry? Etc.

I'm not trying to rain on the parade or put down this accomplishment. I think it is -awesome- that you've built and launched a product that looks (and probably is) this good. But I think you might want to reconsider how you present your background.

Which of course leads to a whole new set of questions -- should you just leave out your age entirely? I'm not sure. (Is it really relevant or is this just me being knee-jerk?)

Either way, best of luck and congrats on the launch.

I completely understand your point. Age is not something I can manipulate with so I don't mind facing the truth.

It's okay if you're not using NameTerrific today. I'm sure you wouldn't trust your important domains with any random startups that you've never heard of before (and you shouldn't). But let me answer your questions:

- Security. I've invested a lot of time in security. Basically the whole system is running in a private network and the only public-facing node is the load balancer. The DNS servers are running in a separate network and connect with TerrificDNS controller with a secure connection. eNom API requires IP address verification. Credit cards are stored completely outside the web service. I've paid attention to common attacks (injection, CSRF, XSS and mass assignment).

- Points of failure. DNS is a difficult thing to handle because the uptime is critical. That's why TerrificDNS Anycast uses Amazon Route 53. If you're uncomfortable with NameTerrific's DNS servers, you can choose this outsourced solution. 100% SLA.

- My background: It seems true that my age is more of a perceived-technical disadvantage rather than a marketing advantage, especially when considering the seriousness of my project(s). However, I've been coding for 6 years (with 4 years web) so I think it shouldn't be a serious limiting factor.

Thank you for your compliments! I'll prove myself with time and results.

As a domainer and a geek here are my thoughts:

Price: too high. I am paying $8.49 per .com right now with Fabulous. NameCheap is 10.69 with no coupon. Asking for 12 is too high if I am renewing a lot of domains.

API: A lot of registrars have API access. I am not sure what is special about yours. I've worked with Fabulous, eNom, DirectI, and a couple others. Some are better than others, but what makes you special? In fact, you seem to be built on top of eNom's API.

DNS: This is perhaps the only real selling point I see. You're essentially upselling on better DNS and foregoing all the other potential upsells (like hosting). How do you compete against the professional DNS companies? It only takes a NS change for me to be using their services. You're using Route53, why wouldn't I do this myself?

Maybe I am not your target audience, but I am struggling to figure out who is. I understand the economics of registrars and I feel like you've cut yourself too small a slice to be sustainable. I have doubts about the funding because you don't own a registrar which reduces costs long term but requires quite a bit of capital. But also creates higher pricing requirements which means less customers. You've given up all but one upsell possibility, which has a lot of competition that geeks are generally familiar with. Your audience is supposed to be savvy, so if they are developing a system that requires a lot of domains they can figure out how/where to get them cheaper and setup DNS too most likely.

I like seeing innovation in the domain space, but I fear for the economic viability of this. I also don't honestly see any innovation here. You've complained about what people don't like, but a lot of companies are already going after you main complaints.

I think the registrar innovation is pretty dead because of the shitty economics of it. The margins are getting eaten up by VeriSign every year. They make more money doing everything but registrations. Maybe your DNS upsell will work, maybe not. Good luck.

Your argument is definitely valid and I agree with you that the economic viability is limited in the sense that NameTerrific is not an extraordinarily competitive product in the market.

However there are many small but extremely useful features in NameTerrific that are not available elsewhere, such as DNS Snippets, Profiles and Domain Admins. They simplify the domain management for web designers/developers.

I don't want NameTerrific to be the cheapest registrar, the most professional DNS service provider or a losing department of a hosting company. The vision I see is an all-in-one platform that covers every aspect of professional domain management. You get the best uptime and easiest management automatically, and you can customize the experience the way you want.

The reason that the APIs haven't been released today is because I'm adding OAuth to it. NameTerrific is designed to completely open up the domain industry to all developers.

Unfortunately domainers are never my target audience. Many professional domainers get accreditation themselves to take advantage of cheap prices and stuff like domain cancellation. There's no point competing in such a low margin field.

But well, I believe that there will be people (hopefully a lot of them) who want something simple and straightforward and are willing to spend $2-$3 extra a year to get a professional product without doing much work.

I am glad you recognize that. I worry tremendously about companies that don't realize the economics of registrars. Very few domainers actually own registrars, the biggest guys do, but most aren't technically inclined and work with existing registrars (eg. Fabulous, Enom, Moniker). Even at $2-3 margins you're going to need tens of thousands of domains to cover costs. You want the best support, but are a 1 man operation, to hire a 24/7 team, you would need 3 people working full shifts (if that includes you), we're talking at least 50,000-70,000 domains (not even sure what costs you have, so that would be on top). That's a lot of domains. I hope the DNS is really popular and has great margins, because you're going to need them.

As far as features, you have not looked around enough apparently. Profiles and domain admins are something that have been around for MANY years. I think even your registrar, eNom, has that functionality with subaccounts and access levels. I know my registrar, Fabulous, has them. I even have DNS templates (seemingly equivalent to your snippets). I have had this stuff for the past ~5 years?

Why are you comparing this to a registrar? The service NameTerrific is offering is primarily managed DNS, not registration. A better comparison would be to Dyn.


Except I can buy DYN's service for a domain registered anywhere. This is being packaged as an upsell of domain registration. I compare to both, but since it requires me to choose them as a registrar to use, I focus primarily on the registrar component.

Hi HN,

I have been working on NameTerrific for almost 8 months. Now it's time to launch. If you are interested in some background information about NameTerrific, please read my blog post about this launch: http://blog.nameterrific.com/2012/11/the-fix/

Otherwise please leave your comments here or email me at ryan@nameterrific.com。

Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Can you explain how this is different from using any other domain registration service? It's not clear what the problem is, aside from not being GoDaddy et al, and how you are fixing it, as there are a number of reputable registrars available. Having said that, congrats on the launch.

In my blog post (http://blog.nameterrific.com/2012/11/the-fix/) I have listed a few problems.

Basically the domain name industry wasn't being actively developed in the last few years. A lot of effort was spent on the business side, especially how to use domains to boost parking, hosting and SEO services revenue. I think geeks deserve a professional platform that only deals with domain names.

It's a billion industry, and it's a shame that there're few startups focusing on this business. NameTerrific was meant to fill this gap.

You could say exactly the same about Stripe.

You've got so many things right with this, I'm really impressed. Supporting login via Github and accepting Bitcoin payments makes the "for Geeks" tagline come across as honest. Similarly, being really upfront about the hosting referral links and providing non-referral links contributes to the sense that "this is an honest guy".

The whole things looks slick as fuck too. Hosting the privacy policy with a third-party who summarises it is a great idea. In general I feel like I've learned a lot about how to launch a product just by looking at this site. Thanks!

In return, I'd like to offer just one opinion about what I think could be improved. The front page content below the fold, starting with "We created TerrificDNS" and ending with "Take some action today" feels a bit cluttered and tl;dr compared to the rest. I started to skim at that point. Seriously though, I loved this.

Here are my thoughts as a one-time employee of a web hosting company; I built their DNS control panel for customers and their overall order placement and customer management API.

I think that the API access you offer is truly a great innovation in this space. I don't currently have a use case for it; have you thought of any that you could share? Programmatic creation of subdomains?

My criticism is that you need to properly answer the question of, "You're a startup; how do I know that you'll be here five years from now and my domains won't end up in purgatory somewhere because you go out of business?" Part of that echoes what nlh says below: It is not a good thing that you are advertising that you are 18. Rightfully or wrongfully, that works against you.

Yes, programmatic creation of subdomains is one. Another potential use case is domain-based apps. NameTerrific will roll out OAuth support in the coming weeks so developers can control their users' domains through NameTerrific. So you can help a blogger point their domain to a blogging platform programmatically, for example.

Also, you can create a health check program that automatically drops unresponsive nodes from a round-robin DNS-based load balancing record set.

To address your concern: eNom handles all registrations currently. If NameTerrific doesn't respond you someday (I'll make sure it doesn't happen), you can claim back your domain at eNom and then you can transfer to anywhere else. The domains are yours and never ours.

Regarding the age: I recognize that being a problem now. But there's no regret. I've done what I need to and I'll prove myself with time and results.

Looks interesting. A little pricey for my needs right now, but I understand the programmatic access to things is useful at the very least. If/when I switch or have a programmatic need, I'll look at this more closely.

I don't see any discounts for bulk domains (I've got ~150 I manage).

Also, I use virtualmin - having a plugin for virtualmin to allow registrations and management through nameterrific might be useful for you to look at (although you've probably already got 1000 ideas on your plate).

I can see a huge potential in the consulting market. Many web developers/designers manage a large number of domains for their clients and they obviously want to maximize the productivity for domain-related tasks.

In the near future, we will launch our APIs as well as a white-label platform for these needs.

Your virtualmin idea is great. Yes, with APIs everything can be integrated and centrally managed.

EDIT: We're definitely interested in offering bulk discounts, email your needs to support@nameterrific.com and let's see how we can work together.

I think offering Bitcoin (฿) payment is a fantastic, er terrific, idea. Pricing (https://www.nameterrific.com/pricing) on a whole is very reasonable, but it seems that the .co domains are a bit pricey compared to other alternatives.

Looks good. However, I wanted to point out something. Your tagline says "Domain names for geeks" but in your FAQs, you say "It is not only for geeks but for everyone". If a non-geek visits your landing page, they might not like the tagline. You might want to think about re-wording the tagline ?

Well, I've tried a few different taglines but this one feels the best to me. Of course I'll improve it when I have better ideas. Thanks for the feedback!

FWIW, DNSimple (http://dnsimple.com) have been doing this for years, with a cleaner API and roughly the same pricing

DNSimple is really great. I like how they handle the web services. NameTerrific has taken a more flexible approach - we allow customers to create their own Snippets and get TSI (pretty much like AMI). So if you have a Tumblr-like platform, it will make sense to give your customers a TSI to subscribe to (and when you change your IP addresses, all of their records get updated).

Also, NameTerrific offers Anycast DNS, which is important to many users. The Unicast DNS is based on PowerDNS, the same as DNSimple, but the backend is Redis instead of MySQL - way faster.

I might actually move a personal domain to this to try it out if I could ascertain whether ipv6 glue records are available.

Unfortunately, eNom only offers IPv4 glue records (we call it "Registry Records"). That's why we plan to be a registrar ourselves so that we can offer the geekiest thing possible.

Nearly signed up, then i saw the "secured by Norton" Badge in the footer if the page.

Nameterrific is not a good name.

Care to explain why? For simply a domain registering company, it seems fine.

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