From Mike to A Hack-tastic Journey into Short Domains

Domain Hacks

TLDR: I am now the owner of! 🎉

Here’s why I think it’s cool, how I came to own it, and what you should know if you’re going to acquire a domain hack.

I’ve always been a fan of short domain names.

But who isn’t?

Short domain names are critical for businesses with long company names, like International Business Machines ( and American Airlines (

For an internet entrepreneur, short domain names are the equivalent of a Rolex watch or Ferrari sports car.

They come with gravitas.

They’re associated with exclusivity.

It’s 100% a social flex if there ever was one.

And they often evoke curiosity, making people wonder, “How did you acquire that?”

Ranking the Number of Letters

Single-letter domains in .com are the pinnacle. (There aren’t 26 like there are letters in the English language, there are only 3 that are active:, and

Two-letter domains in .com are second in line (although some letters are better than others).

But single and two letter domains in .com are priced from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.

So what do you do if you want a memorable, short domain name – short of going into lifetime debt?

The Introduction of Domain Hacks

Many people have used domain hacks to create shorter domain names.

A domain hack is a domain name that suggests a word, phrase, or name when concatenating two or more adjacent levels of that domain.

For example, bir.ds and examp.le, using the fictitious country-code domains .ds and .le, suggest the words birds and example respectively.

In this context, the word hack denotes a clever trick (as in programming), not an exploit or break-in (as in security).

– Wikipedia

Back in 2012 I decided to migrate all of my company’s online properties to the CMS (content management system) called WordPress.

I remember researching CMSs at the time, and as part of my due diligence reading about Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress. And I also remember his Twitter profile using the domain name

How is it possible that Matt had a domain name like this?!

It’s shorter than, and likely more affordable.

Of course anyone who is familiar with domain names knows the .tt top-level domain name is a country code assigned to Trinidad and Tobago, but for someone like me who didn’t understand these topics at the time – it was like magic. ✨

Aside: I’ve met Matt a couple of times; once in 2012 when I attended and again in 2014 when I spoke at a WordPress conference. Here’s us in 2012. I have much more gray hair now and Matt pretty much looks like same.

From Matt to A Hack-tastic Journey into Short Domains

Through my years of learning about domain names founding and running DomainSherpa and later Domain Academy, I would come to learn about the many domain hacks that existed and get to know the domain name investors that focused in this niche.

The Evolution of Domain Hacks

The first hack I can remember was Bitly, the ubiquitous URL shortener that operated on (later acquiring

Then I remember Kim Dotcom bought (currently doesn’t resolve).

Then Matt Mullenweg with

I recall wondering if I could register, so I resorted to my usual trick of typing into a web browser address bar (type “nic” as the second level domain for any top-level domain, and it will likely resolve to the company or organization that operates the namespace… country codes aren’t required to follow this specification, but most do).

It didn’t resolve – just my luck. 🤣

A web search quickly revealed that .ke was the internet country code top-level domain for Kenya, with KENIC (Kenya Network Information Centre) being the authoritative agency responsible for managing the registrations and issuance of .ke domain names.

Aside: I also researched who owns Turns out to be Michael Saylor, who also owns and many other ultra-premium domain names. He also holds the record for selling the most expensive domain name,, in an all-cash deal for $30 million back in 2019.

The Multi-year Hunt for

The first time I reached out to the KENIC registry to inquire about the domain name was in 2020, with no response.

In January 2023 I tried multiple times, again, receiving numerous email delivery errors.

Finally, in September 2023 I saw the name of a KENIC representative listed as a speaker in a conference and after reaching out via Linkedin was able to negotiate and secure the domain.

The registry was a pleasure to work with, and if there’s a domain name you want that ends in .ke or you want to view domain names at auction you can do so here: (the URL wasn’t resolving at the time of this blog post publication, but it did work in the past)

The Uptake of Domain Hacks

Many companies have purchased their domain hack equivalents. has put together a comprehensive list in their “Domain Hack Hall Of Fame,” although I take exception to the ones that aren’t a word that spans the dot (like for CodePen).

For example, BMW, the high-performance luxury vehicle manufacturer, operates on, but also owns (country code for Malawi) and can use it as a URL shortener in social media, on marketing materials, and as a way to track marketing campaign effectiveness.

ESPN, the sports news and broadcasting network, owns (country code for Pitcairn Islands).

And IFTTT, the task automation software system, owns

At the time of this blog post publishing, Google is launching the .ing top-level domain. I have no doubt that mega words like, and will be quick to go. But there’s a catch — according to, during the first week of the land grab domain names will sell for more than $1 million each. 🤯’s New Blog

I’m going to take this opportunity to start my new personal blog on

At a time when everyone is migrating from blogs to email newsletters on Substack and Beehiiv, I’m going to take a different path by publishing on topics of interest to me that might benefit others – allowing others to read it without signing up for a newsletter (although I will be sending a link via my newsletter at

I’m started running this personal website and blog on, which is super-simple to use, looks beautiful and loads fast.

As someone who has operated websites for years, it’s a load off of my shoulders to have them run this for me.

In June 2024, I migrated to WordPress to have more flexibility in the way I present my personal homepage.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at hi at my new domain. I’m happy to answer them.

Post Publishing Q&A

Q: Are you concerned about an overbearing government taking back their domain names?

A: It is definitely something to consider if you’re not using a generic top-level domain, like com, net or shop that’s overseen by ICANN.

In 2010, after shut down his domain, Ben Metcalfe issued a warning on his blog, stating that the reason was because the content of their website was deemed to be in violation of Libyan Islamic/Sharia Law.

You’ll want to consider whether you want to support a government – and their policies – that operates an extension of your domain hack.

You’ll also want to research and ensure that there are no nexus requirements in a country requiring you to live or work there to own a domain name.

Finally, you may want to consider if the government is stable and maybe even a democracy, as that may lead greater longevity of the extension operability.