The Future of Emoji Domains with Jon Roig and Matan Israeli

What an emoji domain interview I have in store for you today!

Attending NamesCon this year afforded me an opportunity to meet and engage a number of individuals and companies in very insightful conversations.

One of these chance meetings was with Jon Roig and Matan Israeli together. Both names likely sound familiar if you watched their interview debut by Mike Cyger on Domain Sherpa: Why Emoji Domains May Take Over the World.

Of course, the episode catapulted both gents and emoji domains into prime spotlight nothing short of a rocket ship ride that appears to be picking up additional steam almost a year later.

That said, I thought I would capitalize on being in the same space with the gents at NamesCon.

Both were so gracious to allow me a quick video interview to discuss their latest happenings since the DomainSherpa show and where they think emoji domains are headed to next.

Because we didn’t have much time between sessions and their next meetings, they’ve also been generous to provide additional insight to questions we were not able to address in the video (see questions below video).

Thanks Jon and Matan for your generosity, and it was great seeing you both at NamesCon!

Don’t forget to register for NamesCon next year and you’ll likely get to speak with both gents and many others.

KC: What was your highlight of NamesCon and why?

JR: It was a real treat to meet all the folks involved in emoji domains and to start to get the lay of the land for domains in general. I didn’t really attend more than one or two of the talks — as a person who neither runs a registry nor functions as a domain investor, there wasn’t much there for me on that agenda. That said, there were a wealth of people to chat with about the larger state of domains in general and ccTLDs in particular. That aspect was fascinating. I made a lot of valuable contacts and had a number of interesting meetings.

MI: Except than making a dream come true, while having a booth at NamesCon, The “Emoji Domainers Executive Dinner” with Emoji domain investors from around the world was my highlight. A year ago, I was eating by myself lonely in a dark room. For me, this was the proof of success.

KC: What did you learn while at NamesCon that you didn’t know before?

JR: Even in this era of online communications, meeting people face-to-face counts. I’ve been operating in my own little world for the last year, so it’s interesting to see how my projects fit into the larger domain ecosystem. The domain community is interesting, filled with a diverse array of people with a wide array of products, all of which tie loosely to online identity.

MI: I learned a lot! One of the things that was fascinating for me is the macro perspective, understanding which registry works with registrars and companies that offer the full package of wholesale, retail and enterprise solutions for domain names.

KC: Have you developed any emoji domains since the original DomainSherpa episode aired?

JR: I made a lot of improvements to i❤.ws behind the scenes for search and stability reasons. I also added a variety of features. Click around and explore! Not everything I tried worked well: I attempted a thing where I got a stripped down version of i❤.ws translated in different languages to see if I could attract some extra search traffic from other countries. Honestly, went nowhere… but at some point soon, you’ll be able to view i❤.ws itself in other languages. At one point, I owned 🍆.ai, planned to build on there, but that fell through when .AI decided to dump the IDN space. Too bad! On a more successful side, I also developed a bunch of emoji domain sample sites like: i❤, phx⚽.ws, brad❤, i❤, i🏠 and sf🐶.ws. If you do a search for “brad❤jennifer” on Google, I’m the #1 “brad❤jennifer” result. I think I can be pretty proud of that. I wrote a response to ICANN and the SSAC here: i❤ I’d describe their reaction as “skeptical,” but I also had some good chats at NamesCon. There’s a demo of Progressive Enhancement, where emoji domains and “regular” domain can be used interchangeably at That is to say, if you visit the site in Safari, you’ll see 😎🌐.ws. In Chrome, you’d see Maybe a sign of things to come? Finally, I developed a Weird One Character Domain Superstore at ツ.ws… which is kind of an emoji. Sort of. More of an emoticon, really…

MI: I have created a cool page under www.🎁.ws which went viral in WhatsApp messaging platform while wishing friends and family happy birthday. It has more than 5000 visits since i made it, just for raising awareness.

KC: What top 3 emoji domains do you own, and why do you consider them your top three?

JR: I think I really own i❤.ws, ❤❤❤.ws, 🌵.to and 👻👻👻.ws. I live in the middle of the desert, so I had to snag 🌵.to and, eventually, I’ll finally finish OfficePoltergeist and you’ll see it at 👻👻👻.ws. Everything else in my “portfolio,” such as it is, I use for demos or active projects. Outside of emoji domains, I own a couple of oddball domains like ⠀⠀⠀.ws.

In addition, Jill Roig, our VP of Sales and Marketing, owns 🕎.ws… which is pretty awesome, since we’re into that whole Chanukah thing. There’s a good chance we’ll build something fun on there. She’s got i❤, i❤, i❤oprah .ws and i❤ and would LOVE to unload them, especially to someone who has a plan to develop a serious project. Hit us up if that’s you!

MI: My top 3 are the coffee cup (☕.ws), the shopping bags (🛍.ws) and the ring (💍.ws) emoji domains. I consider them top 3 because of the unlimited amount of potential buyers for those domains. From a small local jewelry designer, to a world wide known chain of coffee shops. ( Hi Starbucks! 😉)

KC: How many emoji domains do you currently own, and do you see yourself holding steady, divesting, or increasing your emoji domain portfolio?

JR: I’m all in Dogecoin from here on out.

MI: Prefer to keep this confidential, but know it’s more than a few hundred.

KC: Based on the domains you own, what is the ccTLD distribution of your emoji domain or domain portfolio?

JR: I’m not sure, to be honest. I think I’ve just got 🌵.to, everything else is .WS.

MI: At the moment, .WS is the leading ccTLD of emoji domain names, so my best domains are there. I will definitely will renew them. I don’t own any .TO domains.

KC: Do you see emoji domain registrations increasing or decreasing over the next 12 months?

JR: Increasing. Emoji domains are starting to gain traction. I think we’ll start to see a number of bigger names start to use emoji domains… Honestly, I’m not tracking registrations as much as I am usage. I get really excited when people make emoji domains part of their online presence. I feel like the more we can get emoji domains into the hands of people who put them into action and develop sites on ‘em, the better off everyone involved in this ecosystem will be.

MI: As more ccTLDs are joining the game, i assume that emoji domains registrations will increase in general.

KC: Hearing about .FM being the latest ccTLD to allow emoji domains, what other ccTLD’s do you think will cash in on allowing emoji domain registrations?

JR: I’ve been chatting with a number of other ccTLDs but, frankly, I’m super excited about .fm. They’re very organized in terms of their marketing and outreach with years of experience launching new TLDs. (They also own .am and .radio) They’ve had the opportunity to learn some interesting lessons from the rise of both .ws and .to and are well versed in this industry. Plus, they’re the first ccTLD from CentralNic to express interest — it’s possible that if it goes well, others will follow. Also, they’ve got quite a bit of experience building up brand recognition for .fm. They’re huge in podcasts right now and that’s not by accident or coincidence — they’ve always worked hard to get their domains into the hands of the right people so the public recognizes their TLD. Just ask

MI: More than 10 ccTLD’s owners have contacted me in the last year to help them with launching emoji domains. Emojiurl became one of the largest consulting agencies in the emoji domain market. We provide a complete package that offers customers available knowledge and support needed to properly launch and execute successful emoji domain campaigns that are profitable.

KC: Do you consider it “too late” to start investing into emoji domains?

JR: 2018 will be a good year for people using emoji domains and for people who can connect up the right domain with the right project. In 2018, we’re going to start seeing apps migrate away from corporate app stores to Progressive Web Apps. These PWAs function more or less the same as a “regular” app – they have permissions to do things like access a camera or cache data on your phone – but they leverage the power of the browser for their “backend.” You can even save a PWA to your phone’s home screen. This is only going to increase the demand for “mobile first” domains, apps where it doesn’t really make sense to have a desktop presence. Or, if they do, it’ll just be on a different domain. This is already a thing in Android and we’re seeing full implementation in iOS very, very soon.

MI: No, not at all. First, because of pricing, pricing at the moment is still aiming for early adopters for most domain names, and not for the potential big brands that should use them.
Second, as more ccTLD are allowing emoji domains, the opportunity awaits more investors to invest in great domains.

KC: Based on experience, how do you see emoji domain names impacting how a personal brand or business markets and advertises to reach more people?

JR: Domains are the first way a potential customer interacts with your business. Emoji tell a story, people understand them innately and instantly. Pictures are worth a thousand words: you can describe almost any basic concept in two emoji. At this point, the majority of all internet traffic is mobile, and the language of mobile is emoji. Businesses continue to find new ways to stand out from a crowded field, and emoji domains are a bright, colorful way to grab customers attention.

MI: Great question! Based on my experience, brands are using emojis in their verified social media accounts everyday, anytime! The next obvious step is to have an emoji domain using one or two of the most trendy emoji domains to represent the brand attribute(s) or brand logo. Using emoji domains allows users to immediately identify and connect with a brand. For example, thinking about Levis instead of jeans while seeing the jeans emoji.

KC: Anything else to share or know about?

JR: My advice to people is always the same: there’s never been a better time to learn how to program than now. There are tons of free resources out there, all it takes is the time and effort to learn. Believe me, you don’t have to be a genius. Mostly it just takes tenacity. Just choose a simple project – a blog or something similar – and work backwards from there. You’ll have to know basic CSS and HTML, how databases work, some kind of programming language like JavaScript or PHP… Once you’re done, you’ll have all the basic building blocks to develop anything you want!

MI: Emoji domains are here to stay, as emoji is not a trend or fashion. It is a standard, default keyboard which means an international language in the way we communicate.
To be honest, I am glad to be the one who introduced this innovative concept to the domain industry, but my success is truly belong to the work of all of us, from the early domain investors like Vito and John, to Mike Cyger and you as spreading the word by beautiful written coverage.

Written by Alvin Brown
He's an experienced and passionate serial entrepreneur, founder and publisher of Kickstart Commerce. Alvin possesses a great love for startups dominating their market using profitable digital strategies for greater commerce.