TUVALU LENDS ITS TWO LETTERS TO
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
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
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."