As Syria Worsens, Changes Unique URL

Last Friday, the high-profile art startup Artsy changed its primary URL from to, prompted by tensions in the Middle

artsy-headerLast Friday, the high-profile art startup Artsy changed its primary URL from to, prompted by tensions in the Middle East and a 36-hour site outage Wednesday.

The .sy top-level domain was a large part of the site’s identity, even factoring in the company logo, which suggests a line before the last two letters of the name. But while the Manhattan-based company has prominent investors from around the world, Wendi Murdoch and Dasha Zhukova among them, the change means they’ll be losing ties to one country they’d probably just as soon do without: Syria, which hosts the .sy web suffix and whose recent problems, server-related and otherwise, accounted for the site’s going down. News of the change was first reported by Techcrunch.

Artsy’s president and COO, Sebastian Cwilich, told Gallerist that plans to change the URL began last summer and that the company was “fortunate to be able to acquire in the fourth quarter of 2012 for under $50,000.”

“The world is a complex and dynamic place,” Mr. Cwilich said. “A domain which makes sense one year can not make sense the year afterward. I think that, at the time we made the decision to acquire, the current conflict in Syria was at a much different stage from where it is now, and I see no reason why we would have made a different decision.”

Well, maybe. You might recall that in 2009, when Artsy’s founder purchased the domain from the Syrian government’s Telecommunications Establishment, the United States had only recently reopened the diplomatic door to Syria, following years of tension over the country’s close ties to Iran and its support for Hezbollah and Hamas. From 2005 to 2010, the U.S. had no ambassador in the country. Perhaps a little more initial research might have been useful?

“It’s really hard to say,” Mr. Cwilich said. “Could anyone have predicted what would happen in Syria or the Middle East years before it happened? It’s very unlikely.”

The transition to the new domain should be relatively painless. Artsy owns the domain until the end of the year, so any old links to that address will direct users to After that, it’s just a matter of migrating the site’s code base over to the new domain. Mr. Cwilich said that at the moment there are no plans to change the logo.

Disclosure: Josh Kushner, a board member of the Observer Media Group, is an Artsy investor.

As Syria Worsens, Changes Unique URL