On May 12th, Wordpress announced the launch of .BLOG. It was a big announcement. The center of the news was that WP was getting into the New TLD space, a new arena for them. In subsequent interviews, Matt Mullenweg referred to .BLOG as a fourth P&L for Automattic and views it as a multiple $100M opportunity.
In addition to the above points, I see more significance to this announcement. My perspective:
1. When New TLDs launched, the focus was on the big Internet companies, Google and Amazon. Google had applied for 100+ New TLDs and Amazon had applied for 72 New TLDs. Their participation was big news. We had two major Internet players participating in New TLDs *and* they had applied for a big list of New TLDs (which, not surprisingly, required a big investment on their part). Thus, the early days of the New TLD program were pretty exciting --> Google and Amazon were in the game, they would get their TLDs, they would launch them, and thus the entire ICANN New TLD program would benefit from these big marketing campaigns from these two Internet giants.
2. Fast forward to 2016, Google and Amazon have not gone "big" on their portfolio of TLDs and there has been no big marketing campaign or resulting User education. One plus has been the transition of Google to Alphabet. The selection of "abc.xyz" for the Alphabet corporate domain name was well covered and was the first example of a major Internet company using a New TLD. I thought the exposure was good PR for the Industry (short-lived, but good).
3. Now enter WP. They are a big, global brand. Their main product, websites, is the most complementary product for "domains". Lastly, they have a loyal base who will most likely be the first adopters of ".BLOG". In a recent DNW podcast, Mullenweg stated that .BLOG will be open to all Registrars as well. So, the usage and reach of the New TLD will not be limited to just WP users.
I think this is the watershed moment the New TLD industry has been waiting for. Wordpress can drive a huge amount of awareness to the New TLD program. In addition, based on the nature of their business, "websites", they will also bring much needed, adoption. To me, this is what makes their introduction into the space so important and critical -- they can actually drive meaningful adoption/usage at scale.
WP is basically filling the void left behind by Google and Amazon. I think this is another major advantage for them.
Lastly, I want to congratulate my good friend and colleague, Don Ruiz, who recently joined WP and heading up the .BLOG program. Best of luck Donny!