Instant Domain Search®

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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 covered Instant Domain Search at 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.

Beau Hartshorne


Instant Domain Search, Inc.

2031 Store Street
Victoria, BC   V8T 5L9