Startups

After years-long URL fight, Connectify just got Connectify.com — for free

How Cisco, seemingly out of nowhere, saved the day.

Dolly just launched in the District in September, and started this initiative to gain traction in the area.

Dolly, an on-demand moving platform, launched an initiative to deliver Christmas trees this holiday season and according to its site, the company is no longer taking orders. https://twitter.com/getDolly/status/1063557473146232833 The Seattle-based company expanded its services to Washington, D.C. in September, but has been in business since 2014 and is available in 11 markets total, with plans to expand into more markets soon. Dolly's Christmas Tree Delivery Program allowed its users to order a Douglas Fir or Fraser Fir, provided by Lowes, for delivery for $75. The trees come in two sizes and the company offers trees stands for an additional price. Kevin Wolf, the company's media rep, said Dolly did "five times the number of trees this year than last" in terms of sales. https://twitter.com/getDolly/status/1042436158884655107 Dolly's Christmas Tree Delivery Program is available in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Orange County, Calif., Philadelphia, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and the District. This is a clever way to gain traction for the company  since it follows right along with the holiday season. But, Dolly does more than deliver Christmas trees. The on-demand moving platform connects its users with local truck owners to assist with moving, delivery and hauling needs. If you don't need a truck, Dolly also has Dolly Helpers, for people who just need an extra set of hands. The startup operates online where its users can make reservations and connect with truck drivers and helpers closest to them. Dolly has 5,000 Dolly Helpers and truck drivers registered on its platform. Mike Howell, CEO at Dolly, said the the company was strategic in its move into D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco after analyzing data in its markets and reviewing customer feedback. Since its launch in 2014, the company said it has raised $10 million in funding including an $8 million round led by Seattle-based venture capital firm Maveron in 2015. Amazon's CEO of Worldwide Consumer, Jeff Wilke, has also invested in the company. “Dolly has one of the highest customer satisfaction scores we have ever seen in a young company,” Jason Stoffer, Partner at Maveron and a Dolly investor said in a statement. “Dolly will create a giant business, serving consumers and retailers, as a result of being the only moving and delivery service for large items that truly puts the customer first." The on-demand moving platform also partners with local businesses, Crate & Barrel, consignment stores, apartment buildings and nonprofits, to gain more followers on its platform and also help customers move big purchases from stores.

After a three-year battle to acquire Connectify.com, Center City startup Connectify can now call the URL home — thanks to Cisco.

Until recently, the company, which sells software that can turn any Windows computer into a WiFi hotspot, had been using Connectify.me as its main website. It had tried to acquire Connectify.com, but once Connectify put the money into escrow, Connectify.com’s owners backed out, Connectify president Bhana Grover said in an email.

Even without Connectify.com, Connectify’s software has been downloaded 65 million times, with its hotspots being used more than 500 million times, Grover said. Still, the company was worried about how much incoming traffic they were missing without having a .com domain.

So, Connectify decided to try filing a complaint with ICANN, the organization that oversees website names, since Connectify owned the trademark for its company name. ICANN has the power to decide who has the legal rights to a domain name.

After Connectify filed the ICANN complaint, Connectify.com’s owners came back and asked for more money.

“Our lawyers advised us not to give more money for the domain, but to spend our money on the legal system!” Grover wrote.

Then, out of nowhere, Cisco’s lawyers send Connectify’s lawyers a letter saying they would transfer the domain to them — for free.

Turns out that the owners of Connectify.com — a Seattle-based company called Pure Networks, according to Cisco spokeswoman Robyn Blum — sold their company to Cisco in 2008, making Cisco the legal owners of the site. Blum confirmed that Cisco handed over the domain.

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How did Cisco catch wind of the domain dispute? Blum wouldn’t say.

Connectify’s Grover offered this theory: “We believe that Cisco must be monitoring ICANN complaints to see if they have anything to do with their interests.” As a thank you, Connectify is offering a free one-year license of its software to Cisco employees.

As Business Insider noted: “That’s nice, and ironic. Cisco is the world’s largest maker of hotspot Wi-Fi equipment and the equipment that runs the internet.”

Companies: Cisco, Connectify
People: Bhana Grover
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