Twitter launched its new video service this winter as Vine.co, unconcerned about not having a .com domain. The decision was a testament to the success of .CO Internet, the Miami company that manages and markets the .co domain.
The domain .co actually belongs to the country of Colombia, which in 2008 decided to select a company to commercialize it internationally. Juan Diego Calle, along with three co-founders, saw an opportunity to expand beyond the .co domain’s association with Colombia — and market and brand it to indicate “company” or “community” as well. Calle’s company won the bidding process in 2009, opened headquarters in both Bogota and Miami and targeted entrepreneurs and startup companies with its marketing.
In 2010, domain name registrar Go Daddy made .co the default option for new registrations. That helped .CO Internet hit 1.5 million registrations by this March, with annual revenue of more than $25 million.
The company’s pricing model is also important in driving revenue. While Verisign, which runs the .com extension, charges $7.85 per year for a domain, .CO Internet charges $20.
.CO Internet’s parent company, Miami-based STRAAT Investments, is active both in the south Florida tech community, as well as in startup and tech communities nationally. STRAAT, which has invested in Miami real estate projects in the past, purchased a 16,000-sq.-ft. building in Miami’s Brickell area to house its growing headquarters. It expects to move in by the end of this year and will devote part of the building to space for entrepreneurs.