Afilias says it has managed to grow .pro by 100% just one year after acquiring RegistryPro, despite an abuse crackdown and a tightening of registration policies.
RegistryPro president Karim Jiwani, speaking to DI earlier this month, said that .pro currently has roughly 160,000 domain names under management, compared to 120,000 at the time of the deal.
However, .pro lost about 40,000 domains — all Zip codes registered to former registry owner Hostway — six months ago. Excluding these names, domains leaped from 80,000 to 160,000.
Jiwani said that steep discounting and the on-boarding of a few big new registrars — notably Directi — are mostly responsible for the growth.
It’s all organic growth — regular registrations — he said, with none of the dubious type of big one-off deals that gTLD registries often rely on to show adoption.
The growth has come despite the fact that Afilias is cracking down on loopholes that have previously enabled registrars to sell .pro names to people without professional credentials.
At the time of the acquisition, registrars were accepting business licenses as credentials, but Jiwani said that this should no longer be possible.
“We’ve been trying to get to the registrars and let them now that a business license is not acceptable as a verification tool,” he said, “and we will continue to reach out to registrars and let them know.”
With some profession-specific new gTLDs (such as .doctor and .lawyer) likely to be approved by ICANN over the next year or two, Afilias wants it to be known that .pro has a broader customer base.
“What we did was try to get out to registrars and explain to them that you don’t just have to be a doctor or a lawyer to get a .pro domain,” Jiwani said.
“We explained to them that there are many, many professions in the world — from massage therapists to radiologists to tour guides,” he said. “It opened up the mindset of the registrars a little bit and they were promoting it to a wider array of professionals.”
Our full interview with Jiwani, in which he discusses the challenges of growing a restricted registry, fighting abuse, and how legacy gTLDs can compete with new gTLDs can be read on DI PRO: