A Small Island In The Caribbean Finds Itself Sitting On A Valuable AI Treasure

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In what is surely one of the craziest stories to emerge from the AI hype train, the tiny island nation of Anguilla, situated in the Caribbean, could reportedly make up to 10% of its GDP — or $30 million — from selling “.ai” domains.

Anguilla, a tropical British territory known for its coral reefs and white-sand beaches, is popular among rich tourists who want to have a quality time amidst their busy schedules.

Just like the US owns .us domains and the UK owns .uk domains, Anguilla was assigned the .ai domains to establish their country’s presence back in 1995.

It was one of hundreds of country-specific domain names and easy to overlook — until recently.

Stability.ai, Elon Musk’s x.ai and Character.ai are just a few of the hot artificial intelligence startups that have taken over the .ai domain assigned to the islands and cays that comprise Anguilla.

Even the tech giants such as Google and Facebook have domains such as Google.ai and Facebook.ai, respectively, to route visitors to their company’s AI-focused webpages.

The total number of registrations of sites ending with these two letters has effectively doubled in the past year, according to Vince Cate, who for decades has managed the .ai domain for Anguilla.

It is estimated that Anguilla will bring in as much as $30 million in domain-registration fees for 2023.

Since ChatGPT launched on November 30, 2022, a growing number of tech companies have been trying to raise billions of dollars, hire top-notch engineers, and get powerful GPU chips.

A domain may not seem important, but for an industry obsessed with clever branding, the right name can be everything.

While $30 million doesn’t sound like a lot compared to the billions we see in the headlines every day, that’s a good chunk of change for a country with less than 20,00 residents and a reported $300 million GDP in 2021.

Anguilla’s economy relies largely on tourism, which took a hit during the pandemic. Now it’s seeing a bump in revenue from the increased demand for .ai domains and a pre-planned increase in the price for such registrations.

I hope the AI hype continues for a while so that Anguilla can capitalize, as it is currently in the right place at the right time to benefit from the AI boom.

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