Rook Media acquires DomainSponsor

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2014, Domain Services

Oversee.net surprised many in the domainer community yesterday when it announced the sale of its flagship parking service, DomainSponsor, to upstart rival Rook Media.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, means Oversee, once the parent to brands such as Moniker and SnapNames, now barely has a presence in the domain name industry at all.

Switzerland-based Rook Media, describing itself as “Europe’s largest domain monetization platform”, was formed three years ago by former NameDrive and Sedo executives.

US-based DomainSponsor, on the other hand, has been around since 2002.

Rook CEO Ash Rahimi told Domain Name Wire yesterday that both platforms will operate independently for the foreseeable future.

Oversee said in a press release that it will “now focus on more aggressively developing its growth businesses” which comprise web sites in travel, consumer finance and retail.

The company sold off Moniker and SnapNames to KeyDrive in 2012. KeyDrive has since sold on SnapNames to Web.com.

Oversee still has the DomainFest conference listed as one of its brands on its web site. Other than that, there seems to be little left of its presence in the domain industry.

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Registrant complains to ICANN over Uniregistry’s premium names

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2014, Domain Registries

A would-be new gTLD registrant has appealed to ICANN over the domain name moviestar.photo, which she was unable to register because Uniregistry had reserved it as a premium name.

Danielle Watson filed a formal Request for Reconsideration (pdf) with ICANN last week, in the mistaken belief that ICANN had placed the domain she wanted on one of its block-lists.

She described her predicament thus:

a. Website Name Registration: I purchased one of the new gTLD domain names ending in .photo from 101domain.com on April 2, 2014. Moviestar.photo

b. I received an email on April 14, 2014 stating that ICANN kept this name from being registered in my name, and I would receive a refund in which I did.

c. I cannot understand why this name is being withheld, and being put into your reserve list.

d. I take very old Movie Stars photos and colorize them and put old fashioned frames around them and sell them at craft fairs locally. This name would have been a perfect fit for my use and sales. Please reconsider my request to be reconsidered and the name moviestar.photo reinstated/registered in my name with 101domain.com

Correspondence from 101domain provided by Watson (pdf) does not mention ICANN, so I’m not sure how she came to the conclusion that ICANN was to blame.

I fear she has targeted ICANN incorrectly.

The DI PRO name collisions database shows that the string “moviestar” has been blocked by ICANN’s policy on collisions in 15 new gTLDs, but Uniregistry’s .photo is not one of them.

Whois records show that moviestar.photo is in fact registered to North Sound Names. That’s the name of the Uniregistry affiliate currently in control of tens of thousands of Uniregistry premium names.

The RfR is not the venue for this kind of complaint and it’s likely to be dismissed for that reason. There’s not much ICANN can do about it.

Perhaps Watson would have better luck writing a begging letter to Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling, who has indicated his willingness to allocate premium names to deserving users.

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.nokia — a dot-brand without a brand?

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2014, Domain Registries

Will .nokia be the next withdrawal from the new gTLD program?

It seems possible, if reports about the death of the Nokia brand are to be believed.

The news blog Nokia Power User reported yesterday that Nokia the company will be renamed Microsoft Mobile following the close of the $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia by Microsoft this Friday.

The blog, which may live to regret its own choice of brand, quoted from a memo from the company to business partners, reading:

Please note that upon the close of the transaction between Microsoft and Nokia, the name of Nokia Corporation/Nokia Oyj will change to Microsoft Mobile Oy. Microsoft Mobile Oy is the legal entity name that should be used for VAT IDs and for the issuance of invoices.

However, in a blog post confirming the April 25 close date, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith did not mention a rebranding.

The domain name nokia.com will live for up to a year, he said:

While the original deal did not address the management of online assets, our two companies have agreed that Microsoft will manage the nokia.com domain and social media sites for the benefit of both companies and our customers for up to a year.

What does that mean for the .nokia gTLD application?

According to the ICANN web site, Nokia is currently “in contracting” for the dot-brand.

It would not be unprecedented if it were to withdraw its application, however. Back in February 2013, the American insurance company AIG withdrew its bid for .chartis after a rebranding.

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.guru first new gTLD to 50,000 names

Kevin Murphy, April 18, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts’ pioneering .guru yesterday became the first new gTLD to surpass 50,000 domain name registrations, according to today’s zone files.

DI PRO makes today’s total 50,210, having added 209 names yesterday. Technically, that means .guru passed the 50k mark on Wednesday, but I’m excluding some infrastructural domains used by the registry.

The gTLD went into general availability January 29, so it’s passed this milestone in 78 days, therefore selling on average 643 names per day. That average is skewed obviously by the low-volume seven-day premium phase and a sharp spike when names hit baseline pricing on February 5.

If we assume that the average price for a .guru is $20 (which I’m guessing is probably not too wide of the mark), then the gTLD is already million-dollar business.

For a while it looked as if number-two new gTLD .berlin was going to overtake .guru and might have hit 50k first, but its relative growth compared to .guru slowed down a few weeks ago.

According to our zone file analysis, there are 556,063 new gTLD domains today.

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First .london anchor tenants named

Kevin Murphy, April 18, 2014, Domain Registries

The forthcoming .london gTLD has earmarked its first 28 domain names, most of which are going to some famous, and not-so-famous, local brands.

Judging by the list of names, registry Dot London Domains is going for a relatively classy bunch of anchor tenants, which is probably why I wasn’t invited to the launch event earlier this week.

Judging by newspaper reports, the registry managed to get a celebrity businesswoman, Deborah Meaden, to cut the ribbon, as well as a glowing endorsement from the mayor, Boris Johnson.

Dot London Domains is affiliated with London & Partners, the marketing arm of the mayor’s office.

The list of names, which come from the pool of up to 100 that the registry is allowed to set aside for promotional purposes before sunrise begins on April 29, was revealed by today’s .london zone file.

About half a dozen appear to be reserved for the use of the registry itself.

Three registrars also get their names — 1and1.london, fasthosts.london, godaddy.london — which seems to confirm that .london will get valuable Go Daddy distribution.

These are the others. I have to say, only a handful are household names over here. I had to Google about half of them.

absolutelymagazines.london — a publisher of the women’s magazine Absolutely, apparently.

dating.london — it’s going to be interesting to see who gets control of this, the only dictionary word so far on the list. Like all the others on this list, it currently belongs to the registry.

exterionmedia.london — an advertising company specializing in billboards and such, formerly CBS Outdoor. I’ve seen this brand quite a lot on public transport, which could be good news if it starts using a .london URL.

fortnumandmason.london — Fornum & Mason, an upmarket department store. Far too classy to let the oiks like me through the door.

londonlive.london — a TV station dedicated to London that I didn’t know existed.

meantime.london — probably the Greenwich-based brewing company called Meantime.

metrobank.london — a bank, currently using metrobankonline.co.uk.

penniblack.london — Penni Black, a catering company.

remoracleaning.london — a cleaning company that currently uses a .com.

scoffandbanter.london — a restaurant chain specializing in British food.

standard.london — the London Evening Standard, the capital’s widely-read free daily newspaper. When the paper announced its participation in .london on its Wednesday front page, pretty much every commuter in the city will have seen it.

symphonyorchestra.london — The London Symphony Orchestra.

techhub.london — a Google-backed shared work-space for tech start-ups, just down the street from DI HQ.

theallstars.london — Not sure. Possibly these musicians.

thecommitments.london — The Commitments, a West End musical based on the movie and novel of the same name.

westhamunited.london — West Ham United, one of London’s several Premier League football teams.

whufc.london — also West Ham.

wingstravel.london — a travel agency specializing in oil and gas industries. Interestingly, its current web site uses a .travel domain: wings.travel.

The .london gTLD goes to sunrise April 29, with general availability slated for September 9.

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