Switzerland-based startup Freename said it has secured $2.5 million in seed funding to pursue its ambitions in blockchain-based domain names.
The round was led by Sparkle Ventures with participation from Abalone Asset Management, Golden Record Ventures, Blockchain Founders Fund, and Sheikh Mayed Al Qasimi, a member of a UAE royal family.
Freename, which can be found at freename.io, says it enables pretty much anybody to register a TLD on a blockchain and then earn 50% of the reg fee whenever somebody registers a second-level domain in that TLD.
The “free” appears to mean as in speech, rather than as in beer. If I want to register .murphy, it will apparently set me back $4,099, meaning I’d have to sell over 1,600 2LDs at $5 a pop to make my money back. A gibberish string of characters will cost $79. Freename says it does not charge renewal fees.
It also seems to be reserving strings when they match a “brand, organization, or notable person”, weakening the case that blockchain offers
a liberating alternative to the centralized control inherent to the ICANN root.
Terms associated with some crimes also appear to be blocked, as are strings that match existing generic TLDs in the authoritative DNS.
The company says it has issued 5,000 TLDs on multiple blockchains since it launched last year, but of course users need to install a custom browser plug-in for any of them to actually resolve.
Freename says it hopes to help make these “Web3” domains compatible with traditional “Web2” DNS over time.