Like most entrepreneurs, Jon Roig was trying to solve a problem he was encountering when he came up with the concept of Emoji Domains. He was trying to register a domain using emojis (those little images on your phone that you use to express emotions) for an application that he had written.
He was working on an app he called “Office Poltergeist.” The idea was that you could use your mobile phone and play tricks on your co-worker’s computers, like changes color or manipulating images. Jon wanted to distinguish his app in the marketplace. “For whatever reason, the obvious solution seemed to be an emoji domain. I was trying to register ‘ghost ghost ghost,’” he explains.
When he ran into problems trying to register such a domain, the wheels started turning. Jon is a web developer at Go Daddy, and they have “hackathons” a couple of times every year. Jon explains, “It’s a 24-hour period where you get together with your friends and colleagues and you build something, theoretically related to Go Daddy’s business, and at the end of the 24 hours they are judged.”
But the universe had other plans for Jon on the day of the hackathon. “I was signed up, and on that day my wife gave birth to our son Asher, so I missed the opportunity!
He sat on the idea for a few months and was ready when the next hackathon rolled around.
“I banged it out in a 24-hour period – basically not sleeping,” Jon remembers. “I was done at 2 am and posted it to Twitter; then I went to sleep. I woke up at 6 am, and people were using the site by the thousands, and it was already making money.”
The best part came a few hours later as Jon explains, “It was time for me to do my presentation to the panel of judges. It was very exciting to be doing the presentation as sales were happening in the background!”
Jon admits, “I didn’t invent emoji domains as a concept, they existed before, but I made it finally easy to register.”
His wife Jill interjects, “Jon came up with a search engine registration system so that anyone, regardless of their technical background, can very easily register an emoji domain. That is the innovation, taking emoji domains and bringing them to the masses and making them accessible to everyone.”
All website domains are either numbers, letters or dashes. “The emoji domain is represented in the browser semi-secretly as a combination of letters or numbers,” says Jon. He has built-in coding working behind the scenes so that emoji domain names are compatible with all browsers.
“The nice thing about that is for people who just want to use a regular emoji domain and aren’t concerned with the back-end technical piece, it will work in various situations and various settings, whether you are on your laptop, your desktop or your phone,” explains Jill. “It works, and it’s a viable, consistent experience. That’s why Jon has worked on these enhancements – so that the user is always able to access what they need without interruption or confusion.”
“The amazing thing about emojis is that they pretty much work worldwide. Everybody knows what a soccer ball is, everybody knows what a car is,” says Jon. “It doesn’t matter if you are in Scottsdale or China. We are trying to capture that market all over the world right now.”
They have sold more than 20,000 emoji domain names to date, and they are available in 17 languages across 38 markets worldwide.
The registration process goes through Go Daddy. “That way people can capture the emoji domain that they want but they also have the reliability of purchasing through an international company that they know and trust so that they can feel secure about the process,” says Jill.
Jon and Jill are both excited that larger brands are beginning to use emoji domain names. As Jill explains, “Budweiser, MGM Grand, Penn & Teller, MailChimp, Bud Light Peach-A-Rita and Rayban have all used them. We have also seen small businesses as well purchasing emoji domains because it is a great way for them to get something that elevates them and puts them on the national stage.”
Jon shares a funny story, “Internationally, Kentucky Fried Chicken in Russia is using ‘two chicken drumsticks dot ws’ as one of their big campaigns to promote chicken in the former Soviet Union.” Further proof that emojis are universal.
For more information, visit Emoji Domains at i❤️.ws.