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GAC claims its first new gTLD scalps

Kevin Murphy, April 25, 2013, 13:59:15 (UTC), Domain Registries

Two new gTLD portfolio applicants have withdrawn a total of nine applications following advice from ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee.
Top Level Domain Holdings, owner of Minds + Machines, said it has binned its bids for .free, .sale, .spa and .zulu “as a consequence of these warnings, and after discussion with relevant governments”.
.spa and .zulu are both on the GAC’s shortlist for further consideration on geographical/cultural grounds (Spa is also a town in Belgium) and were due to be discussed at the ICANN meeting in Durban this July.
It’s less clear why TLDH has chosen to scrap .free and .sale, however.
Both were among over 300 bids to receive GAC advice on “consumer protection” grounds, but they were by no means the only TLDH applications to get hit with the same stick.
The company has 21 applications with “consumer protection” advice.
Its bids for .book and .cloud, for example, are listed in exactly the same place in the GAC’s Beijing communique as .free and .sale, and have similar contention profiles, but have not been withdrawn.
TLDH said in a press release that it expects to get a $520,000 from ICANN for withdrawing the bids and another $144,000 from the release of its Continued Operations Instrument risk fund.
Meanwhile, entrepreneur Bekim Veseli has yanked the remaining five of his original seven gTLD bids, all of which had been hit by advice on the basis that they’re “corporate identifiers” such as .inc and .corp.
I understand this withdrawals may not have related directly to the GAC advice, however, and may be also due to the fact that they’re all highly contested strings.

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Comments (3)

  1. Robert Simon says:

    It’s clear TLDH is hiding behind the GAC in blaming them for the withdrawal of these applications. As you pointed out, 21 more applications would seem to be subject to this same advice but no indication of pulling out on those.
    What is more likely that the reason for the withdrawals is plain and simple – they need cash. Their last financials showed them with a dwindling cash position and they are in contentions with a lot of other deep pocket applicants.
    In addition, they have contractual commitments with clients like London & Partners on .london and the City of Miami on .miami where they have promised to build out facilities and staff up.
    Something like 20 people in London and 5 or so in Miami. I’m sure there are other commitments they have made to other clients like the Republican State Leadership Committee and the International Rugby Board. Those are serious investments that need to be made in the next few months and with these continued delays in the program, their cash burn probably taking its toll.
    TLDH’s Management should stop blaming the GAC and get straight with people, including their shareholders about what this is – they need cash.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      They being straightforward about cash issues is unlikely as they need to face auctions where perception of strength is as important as real strength.
      They could simply have not blamed GAC, which is completely bogus, and said business decisions, judgment calls etc.

      • Robert Simon says:

        Rubens – you would be correct about TLDH having and being able to bluff if they were privately held but they are a publicly traded company that has a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. They just can’t make stuff up like that. How they characterize transactions, especially ones involving hundreds of thousands of pounds, is presumably overseen by some sort of financial regulator.
        According to the company, “Audited Report and Accounts for the 14 month period ended 31 December 2012, to be published within 4 months of the new accounting reference date, on or before 30 April 2013.” I look forward to that report and the next round of excuses.

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