Unstoppable Domains raises $65 million, valuing it as a Unicorn
Company raises funds that could be used to fight legal battles and bid on the next round of new top level domains at ICANN.
Unstoppable Domains has raised a $65 million series A funding at a $1 billion valuation, the company announced today.
The company provides blockchain-based domain names ending in extensions like .crypto, .nft, .bitcoin and .wallet.
These domain names don’t work like traditional domain names in major browsers. Users have to download special software or make changes to their browsers in order to access them.
Unstoppable initially marketed the domains as a way to build an uncensorable website, hence the name Unstoppable. But it has changed that messaging over time to capitalize on the NFT craze and a better use for the domains: wallet addresses and digital identity.
Creating a blockchain-based website is complex, and few people truly have to worry about censorship. But easy-to-remember crypto wallet addresses make sense in the same way traditional domains do. Traditional domains are much easier to remember than the IP addresses that point to websites, and blockchain domains like example.crypto are easier to remember than long wallet addresses.
Unstoppable says it has registered 2.5 million domains. It’s unclear how many of these are paid as the company has done multiple promotions. However, in a recent lawsuit, it said it has earned $5 million from selling domains under the .wallet extension.
That lawsuit brings up a significant challenge to its business model, however. It is suing a company that’s providing the technology for people to register .wallet domains in the competing Handshake blockchain domain system.
Unlike traditional top level domains at ICANN, there’s no single arbiter for who gets to run alt-root, blockchain-based domains. So multiple people can start the same exact extension.
Unstoppable says this is causing “chaos” and could result in the misrouting of cryptocurrency payments.
The company is turning to trademark law to try to prevent others from running extensions that match the ones it has started. That might be an uphill battle; unstoppable has failed in most of its attempts to register top level domains as trademarks.
And when ICANN releases its next round of top level domains, companies will likely apply for many of the names Unstoppable is operating now. Even if those are primarily used for websites rather than wallet addresses, it could create conflicts. For example, the competing Ethereum Name Service allows anyone to connect a traditional domain name to it to serve as a wallet address or digital identity.
Unstoppable now has something working in its favor, though: a $65 million war chest to fight competitors, grow its user base, and, perhaps, bid on domains in the next round of “real” top level domains at ICANN.
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