WASHINGTON (03/05/2000) - Register.com, the first Internet domain name registrar to compete for business with Network Solutions, debuted with a splash on the Nasdaq stock exchange Friday. A initial public offering of 5 million shares boosted its stock price as high as $69.50 from an initial price of $24.
The stock ended the day at $57.25, up 33.25 or 138.54 percent.
The strong showing was proof that investors look favorably upon the burgeoning market in domain name registrations, especially in dot-com, dot-net and dot-org. Register.com's IPO comes on the eve of a meeting next week in Cairo, Egypt, of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit entity charged with technical administration of the Internet.
One of the chief topics at the meeting will be the prospect of creating new "generic" top-level domains, such as .store or .inc, to relieve the registration logjam in existing domains. "There's a lot of enthusiasm for the market," Register.com CEO Richard Forman. "Clearly, investors and the public are embracing us." Forman said his company would continue to push for the creation of new top-level domains.
Register.com was the first company to actively compete with Network Solutions for domain name registrations after ICANN began allowing competition last June.
NSI enjoyed a government-granted registrar monopoly from 1992 to 1998, and transformed itself from a sleepy startup in a Washington suburb into one of the powerhouses of the Northern Virginia technology corridor. Dozens of other registrars are also now competing for business. But upstart Register.com has been a vigorous competitor and remains NSI's biggest threat.
Many of the registrars, including Registrar.com and NSI, have started bundling software and services with their registration businesses. NSI remains way out in front, but Register.com shows signs of gaining. In the third quarter of last year, NSI registered 1.3 million names, compared with 159,000 from Register.com. In the fourth quarter, NSI registered 1.6 million names, while Register.com signed up 308,000 names. Register.com's rising tide seems to have lifted NSI's boat, as well: NSI's stock traded as high as $366 per share Friday after opening near $328. NSI stock ended the day at 355.69, up 35.69, or 11.15 percent.