What is ‘Knob Town’ and why did it apply for a top-level domain?


If you scoured through ICANN’s list of new top-level domains, you may have noticed hundreds of oddly named applicants, such as my personal favorite, “Goose Fest LLC.”

There was also Knob Town LLC, Puff House LLC, Dog Bloom LLC, and Binky Edge LLC.

They all are wholly owned subsidiaries of a company called Donuts Inc., a Web registry founded in 2011, which has raised more than $100 million from investors.

Each of the 307 top-level domain names it applied for had a unique subsidiary. The company’s co-founder Daniel Schindler told CNNMoney Wednesday that the names were generated randomly by a computer — apparently one with a sense of humor.

That computer spat out such gems as Spring Frostbite, Hidden Frostbite, Bitter Frostbite, Wild Frostbite, Binky Frostbite, Bitter Sunset, Half Sunset, Corn Sunset, Sand Sunset, Dog Edge, Atomic Maple, Atomic Madison, Extra Madison, Big Dynamite, Extra Dynamite, Fox Dynamite, Corn Dynamite, Pixie Station, Bitter McCook, Atomic McCook, Atomic Tigers, Sea Goodbye, Sea Corner, John Goodbye and Just Goodbye, among many, many others.

"At times, the computer threw together some odd combinations, but those are anomalies, and there’s nothing to read in to any of them," said Schindler.

Schindler said the decision to use uniquely named subsidiaries was advised by the company’s legal and accounting teams, which figured it would provide the cleanest and easiest way to keep track of its hundreds of applications.

Donuts Inc. wasn’t the only one to use a shell company to buy domain names. Google applied for all of its 102 domain names with a subsidiary called Charleston Road Registry Inc. Much of Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters is located on Charleston Road. -David