.art Celebrates Domain Zone Auction Anniversary!

Five years ago, on July 17th, the .art team won a private auction to determine who would operate the .art domain registry. Founder Ulvi Kasimov shares his experience of venture investment and recalls an important lesson in commitment and success.

Venture investment, en vogue right now, has been around for a relatively short period of time – at least compared to other ways of doing business. One of the core success elements in venture investment is faith. Faith of the people in the ultimate success of their idea, and in the venture itself; and faith that progress and return on investment are in the imminent future.

A few years ago, equipped with this set of beliefs, I drew up the idea of the .art domain name registry. I relied on my support group: family, friends, associates and co-investors. The origin of the project is a long story. What I want to talk about now is a point of no-return that I experienced, which is an integral part of any project.

The domain world is fully governed by a set of laws and rules administrated by ICANN; you can look it up on Wikipedia. Governed by these rules and instructions, my nine rivals who also applied to operate .art and I came to the point of no-return. The decision on who will get to operate this incredible domain registry was to be taken via an auction. It was meant to happen on July 17th, 2015.

By that date I felt absolutely ready because my partners and investors were committed to support my auction bid. This made me feel confident and somewhat free when I considered bidding tactics. The first and most unexpected piece of news came just two days before the auction. All of my potential co-investors have withdrawn their commitments, considering the venture too risky in view of other possibilities.

So, two days before the auction I was left alone with my rather strong competitors, with no idea of where to get the potentially millions of dollars to be able to participate in the .art domain auction. I’ve been in situations similar to this one – as challenging, as difficult, but they were all different. In these two sleepless days I kept repeating to myself one thing: “remember yourself, remember who you are, find the energy, the solution – like you did many times before.” This was my mantra.

Ulvi Kasimov in China, 2019

Help came unexpectedly, and not at all because of the mantra. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was seated on a sofa in a holiday cottage where we went with my entire family. I was enjoying some type alcohol – can’t remember what kind, and was staring at the wall looking for a solution. My wife passed by. She stopped for a moment next to me and said: “Listen, Kasimov,” (this is what I am called when she’s cross about something), “stop suffering and step up to the situation. Take our savings, pawn the house or anything else if you need to, win this bloody auction and stop spoiling our vacation!”

You can easily imagine this as a movie scene, but life, mine at least, has little resemblance to movies.

It wasn’t right away that her words really got to me. First if all, this was the first time in our life together that she pointed out my cowardice – it simply hasn’t happened before. This worked like a bucket of ice, or on the contrary – of boiling water. Internally I jumped; this is how unexpected it was. Secondly, and more importantly, I realized that my family, more than my so-called partners and managers, was committed to and believed in me and this project. This was the most didactic moment in my life. I did take up the offer. And we won the auction. I continued to finance the project entirely with my family funds with no partners. Looking back, I am thankful for my luck and blessings. The .art domain registry now has over 80,000 adopters, many of whom I know personally. With many of them we are involved in partnership projects. We have successfully introduced real innovation in the domain name industry and have been awarded a patent for our efforts. Together with my family I have invested substantially in .art, which means that every domain has been sponsored by us in real way.

This makes .art the biggest charity project for our family, although we have several. These include hospitals, schools, stipends, education, museums, book publishing and others, which are usually kept private.

We, our family, think this is the way to do it. Our goal is to make the world a better, friendlier, and fairer place – after all, it will our children who will be living in it. This is what we believe.


Ulvi Kasimov
Ulvi Kasimov

.ART Founder, investor and art collector. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.