WordPress.com Launches 100-Year Domain and Hosting Plan for $38K

WordPress.com is now selling a 100-year plan, one of the longest available in the industry, for a one-time payment of $38,000. It includes managed WordPress hosting (whatever that looks like in 100 years), multiple backups across geographically distributed data centers, submission to the Internet Archive if the site is public, 24/7 dedicated support, and a domain that doesn’t need to be renewed by the customer for a century.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, limits domain registration to a maximum of 10 years. Auto-renewing after this time requires the customer to renew on time and keep their payment method updated. A 100-year plan removes these uncertainties but still hinges on the registrar staying in business into the next century.

Customers who buy into the plan will need to have superior confidence in WordPress.com, coupled with the belief that domain names will still be important to the fundamental architecture of the web decades from now.

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg commented on the difficulties in pricing the 100-year plan during his presentation at WordCamp US 2023, while simultaneously discouraging WordPress product owners from offering lifetime licenses. The distinction here is that the 100-year plan has a finite length of time, even if its future support seems unfathomable at the moment.

“It also got me thinking about lifetime licenses, which I think we should stop doing in the WordPress world,” Mullenweg said.

“If you’ve ever worked with an accountant or an acquirer they don’t like when you have those because it’s essentially an open ended commitment, including often with support. How do you recognize that revenue? Offer a 20 year plan or something. I think when you’re saying ‘lifetime,’ it sort of cheapens the word. If we’re really thinking long-term, what promises we’re making to our customers, I think we should re-examine those practices.”

Mullenweg also said he was inspired by the Long Now Foundation, a non-profit established to foster long term thinking. The organization’s first project is the “Clock of the Long Now,” a mechanical monument designed to keep accurate time for the next 10,000 years:

It is still being assembled deep inside a mountain in west Texas. The Clock provides a rare invitation to think and engineer at the timescale of civilization. It offers an enduring symbol of our personal connection to the distant future.

The Long Now website

WordPress.com is building something parallel to this in the digital world, enabling people to create their own virtual, lasting monuments and preserve their homes on the web.

Embedded in the new offering is also a poignant reminder that WordPress.com is a domain registrar, as the company recently made a bid to capture Google Domain customers ahead of their domains being sold off to Squarespace. Even if the new 100-year hosting plan is too expensive for 99.9% of prospective customers, it gives the impression that the company is capable of hosting entrusted domains for the long term.

Nobody, not even WordPress.com, knows what that will look like in 50 years, but it’s an ambitious, thought-provoking offering. What resources will a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) point to 50 years from now? Or will URLs be discarded into the scrap pile of obsolete building blocks as soon as there’s a better, more efficient way to identify web addresses? What does longevity look like in the digital world?


20 responses to “WordPress.com Launches 100-Year Domain and Hosting Plan for $38K”

  1. I am sure this is not for the average folks right?

    ICANN limits registrations to 10 years, how will WP bypass this?
    Also, everyone at WP/Automattic/everything else…….will not be alive in 100 years.

    Here is what I pay:

    Hosting: $15 a month, so $180 a year
    .com domain: $11 a year
    .ca domain: $16 a year
    .net domain: $13 a year
    .org domain: $13 a year

    So $233 a year. $23,300 for the next 100 years.

    The costs will for sure raise for hosting and domains, the wholesale price WP pays for domains, servers and so forth.

    The average person will not put $37,000 USD on their credit card. In the 100 years with my current provider(s) I’d save $13,700 over WordPress’s offer.

    To answer the next question some of you might have: the .ca, .net and .org redirect to the .com.

    There is no guarantee that the current management will change and future will not want to honour the deals.

    This is too ambitious.

    What if the maintaining costs go up, what will WP do to cut expenses down to keep profit. EVERYONE WANTS A PROFIT.

  2. While I wasn’t there an am only reading about this now (thank you!), I appreciate Matt sharing his view on lifetime licenses.

    Personally, I hate lifetime licenses for the same reasons outlined: what is the concept of lifetime and can anyone really ever support anything for a lifetime? Whose lifetime? The company’s? Mine? Yours? I don’t get it.

    I do like the idea of giving. a form time commitment. Funny, I never thought of that before. We’ll…maybe it struck my mind for a second, now that I think about it. But it might be good for me to offer a 5-year and 10-year price for Radio Station PRO. It seems like a good time distinction one can feasibly commit to. I just have to see how I can set that up with Freemius.

  3. This is such a great idea! So many use cases: if u go to prison for 10 years or you get into an accident and get into a coma, your site stays up. It’s of course great for people who want to leave a documented legacy. And for solopreneurs, less worries about what happens to the site when you’re gone. I hope they offer a payment installment plan. For example, you can purchase your cemetery plot ahead of time on a payment plan. Like a mortgage. Without a payment plan, this is not even an option for most people.

  4. Oh, come on! With due respect to Matt’s fantastic work in the past 20 years, this is no more and not less than merely a fantastic way of attracting media attention (namely, to WordPress.com status as a registrar — something that I have not known before!), because this is the kind of commitment that no company can truthfully and honestly comply with.

    The best that Matt can offer for 38K is “if there is an Internet in 2123, and it uses paid-for domain names, and Automattic is still around, then we will stick to this agreement”.

    That’s a lot of “ifs” for 38K.

    After all, how many companies have been around for 100 years or more? Sure, there are a few; even if they might have changed names and branding and the corporate organisation, and still can trace their origin back to its founders, it’s certainly possible that Automattic — or whatever company holds the rights to Automattic’s work and has to honour their commitments — will be around.

    But the whole concept of “Internet using domain names” might be so weird in 2123 as it is learning Morse code on a telegraph key in 2023. The simple truth is that we don’t have any way to reasonably predict how the Internet will look like in a hundred years; it’s even highly likely that the transmission technology will be so radically different that there will be no equivalent to what we have today.

    Just think about using quantum entanglement for almost-infinite-distance and quasi-instantaneous transmission. It might be turned into an experimental technique by the 2060s, and, by the 2100s, everybody’s mobile phone will incorporate it — and you’ll enjoy instant point-to-point communication to anyone in the world (and outside it!) without the need of a ‘mediator’ or a middle-man such as the ICANN, the DNS system, or any sort of registrar; you might not even need what we would call a “telecommunications company” today; just something that flips an electron’s spin in your pocket, and you’re good to go.

    Science fiction? Maybe. (Note: the hypothetic device that would allow point-to-point instant communication across very long distances is often called the ansible by science fiction authors; look it up!).

    But remember that the concept of having AI displacing the jobs of creative people was science fiction in 2019. And now AI is “suddenly upon us”, and people are being fired and replaced by ChatGPT. My point is just that we cannot even predict what advanced technology will be released upon us in the next few years, much less predict what things will look like in a hundred years from now.

    Also, although you can hook up a Morse telegraph key to the Internet and send messages with it (or, rather, emulate how a telegraph key works) — even if it’s pointless to do so these days; it would just be an amusing hobby to pursue — we cannot even predict if the same will be true of the telecommunication technology of the 2120s. The concept of “typing a domain name on a browser to open a web page” might be so alien in 2123 as setting up a telegraph key would be today. It might even work (who knows, we have retro-computing as a fad now, the same trend might be true in the 2120s) but be essentially useless; whatever domain name you buy in 2023 for a 100-year-period is almost certainly worthless in 2123. And of course Matt knows that very well.

    While I can understand the need of rethinking about “lifetime” licenses, and I also agree that this “marketing stunt” of 100-year domain names is mostly to make Matt’s point, the simple truth is that you’re going to engage a contract where you’ll pay 38K for something that you cannot be guaranteed that will be still existing in the next few decades. Even if such a contract gets clouded into thick legalese in order to pass consumer protection laws, it still remains to be challenged if such a contract is, in fact, a legally binding contract. I’m not a jurist, but I’m sure that jurists will love to take a look at what exactly Automattic will be providing as a service in return for your 38K.

    The only way I can see this “gimmick” of Matt’s actually having an impact is if he announces a “Foundation for the End of Life-Time Licenses”, and the proceedings of those 100-year-domain-names would go towards a fund, or trust, to finance the activities of such a foundation (e.g., producing documentation about why lifetime licenses is a bad idea, sponsoring workshops and having evangelists giving lectures about the concept, etc. etc.)

    Mind you, I’m not quite convinced that “lifetime licenses” is the nightmare that Matt believes it to be. The main question, from the perspective of the contract agreement, is whose “lifetime” we’re talking about. The license buyers’ lifetime? The lifetime of the company providing the product/service (and giving technical support to it)? Or simply the product’s? Also — if someone buys a lifetime license, is that license inheritable by a living relative of the owner (usually, the answer is “no”, i.e., such licenses tend to be non-transferable)? What if the license owner is a corporation, which might outlive the actual users of the license, the corporation’s owners, or even the company which sold the license?

    There are, for sure, some legal issues worthy of attention when talking about “lifetime licenses”, and I totally agree that pointing them out and discussing them more openly and publicly is a good idea. I’m also fine with “marketing stunts” to make a point; and I’m also okay with the idea of getting donors towards a fund that will be managed by a non-profit that will engage the public in such discussions. All these are, in my non-jurist opinion, perfectly valid and reasonable methods to gather attention to an issue (which is worthy of discussion).

    But if this is a “make-money-fast” scheme by Automattic to make them raise funds to shore up their market valuation… well, in that case, you’d be better off spending your 38K in the NFT/cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme while it’s still legal — you’ll have way more chances of getting some value there than with a license to use your domain name by 2123…

  5. Besides the fact that the amount is very high, other problems arise:
    Will there even be websites in 100 years? At the rate of technology development, I am not at all sure.
    And even if there are websites, who will my website be useful to? After I die no one will update the content.
    In 10 years no one will be browsing websites. Just ask the AI and you will get an answer. If you want to see beautiful paintings, just ask the AI to paint for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Subscribe Via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: