Tuvalu News


WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 22, 2000 Ė USA Today)

By Leslie Miller

In November, a Canadian entrepreneur named Jason Chapnik journeyed to the South Pacific island nation Tuvalu to pose a deal to the parliament there.

It involved a natural resource, but not coconut or surplus fish.

He wanted Tuvaluís dot-TV. "He recognized what a powerful address that would be for the world, as the Net becomes more rich and engaging," says Craig Frances, chief operating officer of dotTV (www.tv), which resulted from Chapnikís efforts.

DotTV gets the exclusive right to register, forever, Internet domain names ending in Tuvaluís two-letter country code - .tv, from which the company takes its name.

For its part, Tuvalu gets a 20% stake in dotTV, a seat on the board and $50 million over the next 12 years. Funds will be used to wire the outer islands for electricity (nine tiny atolls are spread over hundreds of miles) provide medical care and cover Tuvaluís United Nations fee.

"Weíre all part of the same team," says Frances, formerly of idealab! which funded and advised the start-up. He adds that Tuvalu was "quite sophisticated" in negotiations, in which it was represented by "top-notch Silicon Valley lawyers."

"We have very few natural resources, and dotTV brings money which Tuvalu needs very much," says Koloa Talake, the countryís former minister of finance, who now sits on dotTVís board, along with Chapnik. "It is certainly a significant source of income." Talake exchanges e-mail with management several times a week on his new laptop PC.

Few of Tuvaluís 10,600 people "have a clue what are the domain names," Talake says. But "they are beginning now to know dot-TV Ė itís their country."

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