But it seems that the tech world is finally fed up with startups ending in “ly.”
So far in 2014, there have only been 31 new domains registered on the Libyan domain registry, NIC.ly. That’s down from more than 600 registrations in 2013.
According to NIC.ly, which controls the allotment of URLs that end in “.ly,” there seems to have been a sharp drop-off in new registrations, compared with the numbers being registered in 2010 and 2011.
While the number of companies registering .ly domains continues to rise, the rate has sharply fallen. From the data, it appears that the heyday of adverb companies came around 2010, and the bubble finally bursting in 2012.
The drop-off may be in part because of the issues .ly companies faced during the 2011 Libyan Civil War. Jeremiah Johnston, general counsel for Sedo, a domain marketplace based in Cambridge, said that this may have played into the waning popularity of businesses choosing .ly domains. “When you have an unstable government, you have an unstable country code,” he said.
Who would’ve thought the fate of U.S. tech startups was impacted by the assassination of General Gadhafi?
LibyanSpider, the largest registrar of .ly domains (and definitely the best-named), says nearly a third of all .ly domains are registered by Americans.
Around the same time as the Civil War, NIC.ly changed its policy that any domain with fewer than four characters in its name had to have an office in Libya. This means no more companies with names like Bit.ly, Adf.ly or Mad.ly.
Boston has had its share of “ly” companies in recent years: Embedly, Nextly, Locately, Drizly, Intelligent.ly, Delightfully and Crowdly, to name a few.
Not all of these have taken websites that end in .ly, but the adverb fad originally sprang out of the need to find short, unique names for startups. The Libyan domains fit perfectly.
“There’s just kind of this move out there: ‘Let’s make it an adverb and that will sound active,’” wrote Nancy Friedman, a brand consultant and creator of the aforementioned Pinterest board, in an Atlantic article on the trend.
But according to AngelList, there have only been two new startups in 2014 in Boston that have gone with –ly suffixes: Healthly and Pawdly. Apparently, there are only 148 domains in the top 1 million websites that end with .ly, although there are currently more than 18,000 “domain hack” URLs still available on the Libyan registry site.
Brand managers and startup founders may be looking for other domain hacks where they don’t have to worry about the possibility of having to rebrand or change their name at the whim of a foreign regulatory board.
“You’re not going to invest in a market where you don’t know what’s going to happen overnight,” Johnston added. “It’s a real changing landscape.”
P.S.: The domain “.nyc” launched Wednesday, so any business or person wanting to rep the Big Apple can now do so with their website. Bostonians will have to wait til later this year for the same luxury.
Image of Gaddafi propaganda poster via Shutterstock.