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Entrepreneur DOMAIN DIVA Lori Anne Wardi of Neustar is helping run the critical infrastructure that makes the digital world function while creating a galaxy of highly sought-after digital real estate. TEX T BY ESTRELLITA S. SIBIL A PHOTO COURTESY OF .CO INTERNE T I n just 25 years, the Internet has revolutionized every aspect of our lives. Ever wondered how it all works and what this digital world would look like if we could actually see it? Lori Anne Wardi knows. As VP of Neustar, a publicly traded information services & analytics company, she and her team aid in managing critical technical infrastructure that makes the Web function, including the domain name registries .biz, .us, .co and the recently launched .nyc. Wardi bought her first piece of digital real estate during the height of the .com era when she began to amass a collection of domain names for each great idea she had. The business bulb lit up for the business-savvy corporate attorney when a potential buyer came along to offer her money for one of her domain names and so began her foray toward building her virtual empire. When asked what the skyline of the Internet looks like today, Wardi says to envision Miami spread out and linear, punctuated by a glistening row of skyscrapers lining Brickell Ave. adjacent to a bustling port, well-lit causeway bridges, beautiful beaches and a bevy of glamorous beachside condos and hotels. “In 10 years, I believe the Internet skyline will be far more densely populated and diverse, filled with multi- dimensional, sky-reaching buildings and eye-catching architectural wonders of every shape and size — but with precious little free space.” 94 With the launch of .co in 2010, and the recent onslaught of hundreds of new top-level domains like .guru, .ninja, .sexy and .club — the world of digital real estate is undergoing a radical transformation. Individuals and businesses need to understand the changes that are happening, so they can make wise decisions about the future. “There’s no one domain strategy that will be right for every business,” Wardi says. “In most cases, you will want to have domain names in several different extensions, both to amplify your existing web presence and to make sure no one else nabs your business name.” For example, she shares, after Neustar recently launched .nyc as the official domain for New Yorkers, individuals and businesses jumped at the chance of securing their .nyc domain name to either fully rebrand their online presence or to register related keyword domains to help drive traffic and interest to their main website. But New Yorkers aren’t the only ones with the option of using hyperlocal domains. The possibilities for how to leverage domain names to build and grow web presence are endless. As are the creative ways to do so. “It’s important to suspend disbelief about what is and isn’t possible in a given situation — ideas are very fragile,” she says. “It’s important to surround yourself with people who share a commitment to inventing the future.”