Good Morning Naming

Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Thu, 29 Jul 1999 10:40:47 -0700

RealNames starting to sound RealImportant. I can't wait to see the
first contraversial decision they will make. It appears they are
assembling an advisory board made up of some heavyweights in policy
and politicking for that eventuality. Anyways, the reason for posting this is

1) cheap plug for TWIST'99 again:
2) Awestruck by Centraal's soon to be inked second round of $50M in funding
from IdeaLab, Capital Partners, Draper Fisher Jurveston, Network Solutions Inc. (??!!),
Compaq, & Amerindo. Where the heck did NetSol get seed capital??


RealNames Ready for Big Role

By Elizabeth Wasserman

A company that has developed a plain-language
approach to Web addressing says its new advisory
board will help clear up some of the issues slowing the
progress of the Internet domain naming system.

Centraal, the creators of the RealNames Internet
keyword system, said it has appointed three Internet
policy experts to a new board that will address concerns
over the awarding of keywords and protection of

RealNames allows a user to type a keyword or
plain-language name to find a Web site in a search
engine or browser rather than type the entire Internet
address. The company's partners include AltaVista,
Disney's Go Network and, as of yesterday, Microsoft.
The company has already made decisions awarding
disputed names such as "apple" to Apple Computer and
"sun" to Sun Microsystems, while withholding the term
"amazon" from

While the RealNames technology hasn't sparked much
controversy yet, company officials say they wanted to
take steps to make their policy decisions transparent for
all end users and Internet stakeholders to see.

"We feel confident that RealNames will be ubiquitous,"
says Centraal CEO Keith Teare. "And with that comes a
lot of responsibility. We have the power to say 'yes' or
'no' to someone taking a name." Teare added that he
expects the company's technology to become the
standard, which would mean the board will play a major
role in the domain name system.

The new board will bring together Christine Varney, a
former Federal Trade Commission member who is now
an attorney with Washington law firm Hogan &
Hartson; Andrew Bridges, an Internet and intellectual
property attorney with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich &
Rosati in Palo Alto, Calif.; and Lori Fena, chair of the
Electronic Frontier Foundation and chair and founder of

Bill Washburn, Centraal's chief policy officer, said he
expects the advisory board to total seven members by
the end of the year.

The board will advise the company on fair and equitable
policies for awarding names; review naming disputes
between companies; advise government and Internet
decision-makers on Web naming conventions; and
identify another agency by the end of the year to act as
the final arbiter for resolving disputes.

San Carlos, Calif.-based Centraal expects to close a
second round of venture-capital financing, in excess of
$50 million, in the next few weeks company officials said.
The company is backed by such firms as Idealab,
Capital Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Network
Solutions Inc., Compaq and Amerindo Investment

Mike Roberts, president of the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers, which is in the midst of
a sometimes controversial effort to privatize the
Internet's naming and addressing system, said he saw
no conflict between ICANN's effort and Centraal's

"They're trying to carve out a niche as a value-added
[domain-name system] provider using proprietary
technology, as I expect are other companies," Roberts
said. "But if there is any legitimate architectural
improvement of the Internet, it's going to have to go to
the Internet Engineering Task Force for the opinion of
Internet engineers, not to me."

A Congressional panel today questioned
representatives of ICANN about its progress, for the
second time in two weeks.