About Instant Domain Search

I built Instant Domain Search in 2005 after attending Y Combinator’s inaugural Startup School at Harvard. After the day of lectures, I was eager to launch a startup. I had a few ideas, but I was frustrated with how slow WHOIS queries are–and how hard it is to find a good name.

It turns out that VeriSign publishes a list of domain names in a giant zone file every night. Once I faxed the zone access agreement back to VeriSign, they provided me with access to the zone file. I got a dedicated server, hacked together a script, and was able to index the hundreds of millions of .com domain names with MySQL.

I was surprised by how fast even the first version was. Once I had the JavaScript, PHP, and MySQL running smoothly, I posted a first version of the site to the Startup School wiki. Soon after, I got an email from Paul Graham inviting me to apply to Y Combinator. Michael Arrington noticed the site and published it to TechCrunch in November of 2005.

I received funding from Y Combinator in 2006 and built an online image editor, Snipshot. I joined Facebook as an engineer in 2009 and, after four intense years, left in 2013 to work on other projects.

Instant Domain Search was built in 2005 by Beau Hartshorne.