.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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.rich promises new marketing after pitiful launch

Kevin Murphy, April 17, 2014, Domain Registries

I-Registry’s .rich may have taken the ignominious title of Worst New gTLD Launch Yet, but the company says it’s not in any rush and is planning to start its marketing campaign in about a month.

According to zone files, .rich has 22 registered names, despite the fact that it’s been in general availability for a week. All 22, according to the registry, were registered during its sunrise period.

The price has certainly got a lot to do with that — the registry fee is $1,750 and you can find registrars selling for as much as $2,599 — but the non-existent marketing may have also played a part.

Visiting the I-Registry web site today won’t give you any idea where you can buy the names or any indication that they’re even available.

As I and others have pointed out, the .rich string is a hard sell. Andrew Allemann of Domain Name Wire, with his tongue only a little in his cheek, doesn’t reckon it passes “The Douche Test“.

But I-Registry’s Michael Hauck told DI that the company is planning to launch a revamped nic.rich site, possibly as early as next week, with an all-new “marketing site” to follow about a month later.

“It will communicate the right message around .RICH,” Hauck said of the nic.rich site. “Clients will understand much better what we intend .RICH to be. And of course you will find a list of supporting registrars there, which today amounts to over 40 registrars.”

The marketing site will offer to sell .rich names directly via an ICANN registrar, he said. Email, hosting, privacy and other stuff will be included in the price, he said. He added:

“We will be also offering an affiliate program with a very attractive PPS program for people who are not registrars or resellers to market this domain product and give them all the margin that usually a registrar has,” he said.

“So a guy who is running for example a millionaire’s dating website or is writing about exclusive products and services in his blog is able to work with us and to promote .RICH,” he said.

Given that the registry doesn’t seem to have sold a single domain during its first week of GA, I think it’s going to need as much marketing support as it can get.

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Bug takes out HostGator, BlueHost for a day

Kevin Murphy, April 17, 2014, Domain Registrars

Endurance International, the domain name registrar that owns some of the world’s biggest web hosting brands, has been hit by a “network firmware” bug that took out one of its data centers.

It’s not currently clear how many many of the 10 million+ domains that EIG hosts were affected, but the outage seems to have lasted at least 17 hours and is only just being resolved right now.

Customers of EIG brands BlueHost and HostGator are among those known to be affected. HostGator alone hosts over 9 million domains, according to Wikipedia.

The outage, affecting a Provo, Utah data center, seems to have begun at 11am local time (7pm UTC) yesterday.

On the BlueHost Facebook page, the company wrote at about 8am UTC today:

Our NetOps team addressed the source of the problems affecting some customers: a bug in the firmware utilized in our vendor’s hardware. We worked very closely with this vendor and we have implemented a bug fix that is beginning to propagate across the network now. You may find some performance inconsistencies during this rollout, but they should resolve fairly quickly.

In more recent updates on Twitter and Facebook and forums, the companies said that some customers may still be affected by the bug, but that they’re quickly coming back online.

Endurance owns dozens of domains and hosting brands. In the registrar space, its best known and largest are probably FastDomain, Domain.com, Dotster and, following the recent acquisition, Directi.

Today’s downtime is the third significant outage in the last 12 months.

The same data center was hit by a prolonged outage in August 2013, which was followed by a shorter outage on December 31.

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How one guy games new gTLD sunrise periods

Kevin Murphy, April 17, 2014, Domain Registries

Wanna buy a SOCIAL brand pen for a dollar? No? How about social.web or cloud.guru or direct.flowers?

pensOne intellectual property lawyer closely associated with a number of new gTLD registries has been using a flimsy online pen-selling business in order to obtain potentially valuable domains during sunrise periods.

Thomas Brackey of Beverley Hills law firm Freund & Brackey has acquired dozens of premium domain names during sunrise periods. He was good enough to share some of the details with DI.

Brackey owns three trademarks on the terms “DIRECT”, “SOCIAL” and “CLOUD”. All three were registered in Switzerland in late 2012, having been applied for in July that year.

All three cover the category “stylos”, or pens.

If you want to buy a CLOUD brand pen, you can do so at pentm.ch, a web site Brackey seems to have thrown up rather quickly using Shopify.

All three marks appear to have been registered via Marcaria.com, which charges $960 for a Swiss trademark registration.

Brackey obtained Trademark Clearinghouse registrations for his three trademarks, which would have cost him at least $150 per mark.

He seems to have used the pentm.ch web site to fulfill the TMCH’s “proof of use” requirement.

With TMCH registrations, he’s able to participate in new gTLD sunrise periods, giving him the first opportunity to register social.tld, cloud.tld and direct.tld for the usual inflated sunrise prices.

The pens themselves, Brackey assures us, are real.

But he makes no attempt to pretend that the pen-selling business was in thriving need of brand protection under the new gTLD program’s brand protection mechanisms.

Brackey told DI:

In the course of preparing new gTLD applications, I came to be pretty familiar with the various policy developments surrounding the creation and implementation of the TMCH.

For the first time mark holders of all stripes, and from every country would be given a pre-emptive right to acquire domain names that had nothing to do with the substance of their brands.

Musing on that, I identified what I believed to be a legitimate opportunity to acquire some domain names in the newTLD landscape. More curious than anything, I decided to put my theory to the test and resolved to try buying some domain names.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the domains I’ve purchased. I’ve never been a domain investor before, and not confident I qualify as one now. It’s all a bit of an experiment at this point and is certainly fascinating territory from an IP perspective.

There will no doubt be a number of important international legal developments that arise from the gTLD process — new rules, new policies and new opportunities.

At least two of Brackey’s new gTLD clients — What Box? and Plan Bee, which use Brackey’s law firm as their mailing address — have also registered large numbers of sunrise names using this same method.

He’s even selling Plan Bee’s “CONSTRUCTION” and “BUILD” pens on his web site.

Brackey acknowledged that some people take a “pretty dim view” of what he’s doing.

I’d have to say I’m one of them.

In my view, while Brackey may not be strictly breaking the rules of the new gTLD program, he’s certainly not acting within their spirit.

Members of Intellectual Property Constituency and others fought hard for rights protection mechanisms that would help them protect their or their clients’ pre-existing brands from cybersquatters.

The RPMs were not designed to provide a way for investors to avoid landrush auctions or a mad scramble for nice names on the first days of general availability.

The “proof of use” requirement was added to the rules in order prevent the kind of debacle we saw with the European Union’s .eu launch, where bogus trademarks were used to game EurID’s sunrise period.

But the barrier is tissue-thin, requiring merely a screenshot of a web site to overcome.

Gaming new gTLD sunrise periods may not be cheap — it may not even be profitable — but I have to wonder what kind of reputational impact it will have on new gTLD registries that choose to participate.

If you’re a brand owner, would you be more likely or less likely to trust a new gTLD registry that chooses to participate in sunrise gaming?

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