Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Dodgy domainer owns 40% of .ceo’s new names

Kevin Murphy, March 30, 2014, 14:28:04 (UTC), Domain Registries

What do Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Jeff Bezos and the Saudi royal family have in common?

Their .ceo domain names all belong to the same guy, a registrant from Trinidad and Tobago who as of last night was responsible for 40% of hand-registered .ceo domains.

Andrew Davis has registered roughly 100 of the roughly 250 .ceo names sold since the new gTLD went into general availability on March 28, spending at least $10,000 to do so.

I hesitate to call him a cyberquatter, but I have a feeling that multiple UDRP panels will soon be rather less hesitant.

Oh, what the hell: the dude’s a cyberquatter.

Here’s why I think so.

According to Whois records, Davis has registered dozens of common given and family names in .ceo — stuff like smith.ceo, patel.ceo, john.ceo, wang.ceo and wolfgang.ceo.

So far, that seems like fair game to me. There are enough CEOs with those names out there that to register matching domains in .ceo, or in any TLD, could easily be seen as honest speculation.

Then there are domains that start setting off alarm bells.

zuckerberg.ceo? zuck.ceo? oprah.ceo? trump.ceo? bezos.ceo?

Sure, those are names presumably shared by many people, but in the context of .ceo could they really refer to anyone other than Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump and Jeff Bezos?

I doubt it.

Then there are a class of names that seem to have been registered by Davis purely because they show up on lists of the world’s wealthiest families and individuals.

The domains slim.ceo, walton.ceo, and adelson.ceo match the last names of three of the top ten wealthiest people on the planet; arnault.ceo matches the name of France’s second-richest businessman.

getty.ceo, rockefeller.ceo, hearst.ceo, rothschild.ceo… all family names of American business royalty.

Then there’s the names of members of actual royalty, the magnificently wealthy Saudi royal family: alsaud.ceo, saud.ceo and alwaleed.ceo.

Still, if Davis had registered any single one of these names he could make a case that it was a good faith registration (if his name was Walton or Al Saud).

Collectively, the registration strategy looks very dodgy.

But where any chance of a good-faith defense falls apart is where Davis has registered the names of famous family-owned businesses where the name is also a well-defended trademark.

bacardi.ceo… prada.ceo… beretta.ceo… mars.ceo… sennheiser.ceo… shimano.ceo… swarovski.ceo… versace.ceo… ferrero.ceo… mahindra.ceo… olayan.ceo…

There’s very little chance of these surviving a UDRP if you ask me.

Overall, I estimate that at least half of Davis’ 100 registrations seem to deliberately target specific high net worth individuals or famous brands that are named after their company’s founder.

The remainder are generic enough that it’s difficult to guess what was going through his mind.

On his under construction web site at andrewdavis.ceo, Davis says:

I am the owner of Hundreds of the Best .CEO Domains available on the web.

My collection comprises of the Top Premium .CEO Domains (in my opinion).

My list of domains contains the First or Last names of well over 1 Billion people around the world.

I offer Email and Web Link Services on each of these sites, so that these Domains can be shared with many people around the world, particularly CEOs, Business Owners and Leaders, or those aspiring to become one.

On each of Davis’ .ceo sites, he offers to sell email addresses (eg contact@bacardi.ceo) for $10 a month and third-level domain names (eg blog.walton.ceo) for $5 a month.

A UDRP panelist is going to take this as evidence of bad faith, despite Davis’ disclaimer, which appears on each of his web sites. Here’s an example from bacardi.ceo:

This Website (Bacardi.CEO) is NOT Affiliated with, nor refers to, any Trademark or Company named “Bacardi”, that may or may not exist.

This Website does NOT refer to any Specific Individual Person(s) named “Bacardi”.

This Website aims to provide Services for ANY Person named “Bacardi”, particularly: CEOs, Business Owners and Leaders.

Bacardi.CEO is an Independent and Personal Project/Service of Andrew Davis.

I must admit I admire his entrepreneurship, but I fear he has stepped over the line into cybersquatting that a UDRP panelist will have no difficulty at all recognizing.

Davis has already been hit with a Uniform Rapid Suspension complaint on mittal.ceo, presumably filed on behalf of billionaire Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal and/or his company ArcelorMittal.

It’s not clear from the name alone whether mittal.ceo is a losing domain under URS’ higher standard of evidence, but I reckon the pattern of registrations described in this blog post would help make for a pretty convincing case that would put it over the line.

I should add, in fairness to .ceo registry PeopleBrowsr, that the other 60% of its zone, judging by Whois records, looks pretty clean. Small, but clean.

Tagged: , , , , ,

Comments (27)

  1. Robbie says:

    Looks like a media grab to get free media, so everyone rushes to register .ceo, who cares let him keep them, they are worthless. Seems like a fake offshore profile. Who really knows whose behind it, if you get my drift;-)

  2. It’s called Domainholism. You wake up the next day with guilt and a hole in your pocket. It’s happened to all of us.

  3. Ms Domainer says:

    *

    This numpty gives us all a bad name.

    I hope that the TM holders come down hard on him, and we should denounce people like him.

    His registrations are an obvious cybersquatting scheme.

    .ceo is expensive, so he either has deep pockets or is foolish enough to risk financial ruin.

    *

  4. Richard Funden says:

    He must have thought it was a good idea at the time (and clicked away quite a number of Trademark Claims notices).

    So that’s one quick way to send 10k USD down the drain. Personally, I’d have bet it all on red instead…

  5. DomainInvestor says:

    I’m assuming this guy was already on his 3rd glass of wine when registering.

    I was thinking of registering a .ceo generic term, but with a listing price of $999, I decided to buy the .com version that cost the same amount. instead of paying a yearly renewal of $70 with a .ceo I now only have to pay $12 plus I just got trillions of marketing dollars that went into a well known .com brand. Win-Win-Win situation for me!

  6. Mike says:

    This rollout is insane, what are these billionaires supposed to do, put a block on every company that rolls out a GTLD. How many CEO’s are there in the world, do they want a .ceo, I am sure guys at IT can give them CEO@CompanyName.com. CEO’s do not want to be bombarded with spam, their email is a given if they adapt .ceo, and would be rendered useless, with customer inquiries, and domainers trying to sell unregistered domains.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      The low number of registrations, which are even lower if you discount this domainer, show that neither IT, IP or MKT are much impressed with this gTLD.

  7. Dale says:

    A lot, or most of Mr.Davis’ portfolio appears to be Premium .ceo names.

    James.ceo, John.ceo, Michael.ceo, Bob.ceo, Smith.ceo, etc…
    Those all cost $1000/year.

    So he would have likely paid around $50,000 to $100,000 to acquire all those names.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I wondered if some were, but the premium list does not appear to be public data and I don’t have a copy.

  8. Chadi Ghaith says:

    I don’t believe Donna Tella Versace would be dying to get her hands on Versace.ceo ! Those people don’t care 1/1000 as much as some stupid domainers think ! Versace will force people to follow her into the domain of her choice because of what she offers. Apart from owning the .com TLD, i doubt she’d care. But this is a great example of the mess and chaos the TLD chicken is causing by laying all those eggs all over…

  9. Jack says:

    This is GREAT news for .CEO!

    FINALLY, a quality tld with a few real registrants.

    I understand that there is a validation/verification process in order to be included in the CEO Club (Network).

    Cream of the crop, verified.

    This will be the most credible tld yet.

  10. John Berryhill says:

    The .CEO TLD encapsulates the “celebrity CEO” syndrome which is one of the things causing capitalism to eat itself. As pointed out above, the CEO of any corporation is most properly identified with the corporation, and not as some entity having that status independent of the corporation. However, like the Verizon CEO who earned his multi-million dollar bonus by screwing every nickel and dime possible out of those greedy bastard low-level employees who think they are “entitled”, being able to identify and express themselves as the wonderfully talented visionaries they are, apart from the dreary connection to some enterprise which does things other than cater to their sophisticated compensation requirements, is fitting.

  11. .CEO domains are in bad taste in the first place. At best, they express a kind of juvenile narcissism. At worst, it’s prone to extortion or cybersquatting.

    In between, I suppose someone could brand a site or email address in some tongue-in-cheek, self-deprecating way. That would be legitimate perhaps. But it would also be expensive and unnecessary.

    • Jack says:

      No, bad taste would be creating a tld that is .loser

      Although the market is far greater than those who work much harder to become CEO’s, it’s still in bad taste.

      CEO’s represent (as the majority) hard working, educated, and well respected individuals that should act as role models and have a place that they can be recognized.

      These men and women are often the Olympic champions that lead companies that make economies thrive, and that put food on the table for millions of people every day.

      • The world is divided into CEOs and Losers, then? I hadn’t realized that.

        Now I get it. Being a CEO makes someone an Olympic champion, savior of national economies, benefactor to the starving masses. So it’s crucial that such demigods brand themselves with a .CEO in order to signal that they don’t belong to the unwashed masses who produce and purchase the actual goods / services.

        I trust most CEOs wouldn’t have been promoted if they shared this ridiculous point of view.

        • Jack says:

          “The world is divided into CEOs and Losers, then? I hadn’t realized that.”

          If that is your narrow-minded perspective, I never even implied as much.

          The only statement was that .loser would truly be a domain tld in bad taste.

          Your assessment, insight, and responses are truly telling … of you alone.

        • Jack says:

          … as for the signal that CEO’s don’t belong (with) the unwashed masses – most CEO’s come from that group and are not the country club millionaires you apparently have as an icon in your head. They are the heroes of companies that are key in leading others to help build them, the player-coaches that are lifted up by their peers after years of hard work and success, not born at the top.

  12. Mark Jones says:

    I don’t see why people are complaining over .ceo so much, honestly…

    If a Photographer wants to have a .photography,
    A Lawyer wants to have .lawyer,
    A Realtor wants to have .realtor,

    Then let them be… the extension describes their profession.
    I see no problem with a CEO using a .ceo domain as their personal portfolio site.

    Maybe it would look silly to own a .ceo site if you are NOT a CEO; that would make you look like a “poser”.
    But this TLD seems fine and well for any legitimate ceo to use, if they wish.

    It might catch on, if marketed well.

  13. @Mark,

    There’s a difference.

    Photographers typically are obliged to promote themselves as photographers.

    Lawyers reach out to prospective clients who might engage them as lawyers.

    Realtors advertise their services as realtors and aggressively seek direct customers.

    CEOs do none of this. Their role is internal to the company, investor-facing, or involves networking with other organizational heads.

    There is no mystery who the CEO of a company is or how to go about finding the relevant person — no need to advertise, in other words. So it would be a bit laughable to see a CEO promoting himself with a .CEO domain, as if he or she were some sort of free-floating CEO for hire!

  14. Mark Jones says:

    @Joseph
    You would laugh at someone just because they choose to use a domain extension relevant to their profession?

    I never said anything about “Promoting one’s self”.
    I understand your examples given, with Photographers, Lawyers and Realtors promoting themselves, you have a point.

    However, I never imagined that a CEO would set up a website to promote his/herself.

    It could simply be a personal website, listing their Portfolio and Achievements.

    It can be a portal/blog to share their personal views with the world, and their followers.
    Making yourself transparent, trustworthy and likable, is always a good thing, as a CEO.

    I looked at the site of the Domain buyer from this Article (Davis): http://andrewdavis.ceo/

    I see no self-promotion there. Just a personal page, about himself and the businesses he owns.
    I find that a completely acceptable use of a .ceo domain.

  15. @Mark,

    I’m always happier to be wrong than right. Maybe people will jump aboard .CEO and put it to use in ways that justify its existence.

    Nevertheless, I think this function of creating a personal page can be done without issues on a .ME or a .COM … or even with profiles on sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn.

    When I see somebody’s .CEO site, I assume they have a chip on their shoulder — something to prove.

    Would I laugh at someone’s .CEO site? Not to their face, since that would be impolite. But it honestly would color my first impression of them for the worse.

    I admire ability and humility. A .CEO can convey that better without wearing a T-shirt that says “CEO”.

    • Mark Jones says:

      .ME sounds too juvenile and attention seeking to me.

      .COM actually stands for “Commercial”.
      If I visit “MarkJones.com”, I could expect to see a business called “MarkJones” there, or anything else.

      Not only that, but Mark.com, Jones.com and MarkJones.com may already be taken.
      I don’t want to fill in unnecessary extra characters just to get a .com domain.

      At MarkJones.ceo, I would only expect to find information about a CEO named Mark.

      Nothing hilarious about that to me.
      But everyone has their own way of viewing things, so I will leave it at that.

  16. @Mark,

    If we’re criticizing .ME for being “attention seeking”, let me ask this: Apart from seeking attention, what would be the purpose of a FirstNameLastName.ceo domain?

    CEOs have somehow gotten by thus far without personal pages announcing their job title to the apathetic world at large.

    I suppose my annoyance at .CEO goes back to the juvenile rap video promo the registry put out, which seemed to most of us to indicate that .CEO is about striking a pose and little besides.

    If the registry had positioned .CEO differently, then I could believe .CEO domains are about informational pages. But the registry’s marketing efforts have prejudiced us against that interpretation.

    • Jack says:

      “I suppose my annoyance at .CEO goes back to the juvenile rap video promo the registry put out, which seemed to most of us to indicate that .CEO is about striking a pose and little besides.”

      Now THAT I get. .CEO is certainly not in poor taste as a tld, but that video DEFINITELY was in VERY poor taste.

      Someone obviously thought it was funny, but definitely should have kept in to themselves.

      Maybe they can come up with a nice place where the .CEO domains (that choose to use the template) can display who they are so that the world can see the OPPOSITE of what was displayed in that horrible video.

      This at least was a decent start to that idea, if only as a release:

      http://londoncalling.co/2014/03/dotceo-domain-names-released-to-the-public-andrewgrill-ceo-now-live/

  17. Not a CEO says:

    So the statement on the People Browser blog stating “over the last few weeks 100 of the Fortune 500 registered their dotCEO domains” really refers to this cybersquatter, not the actual brands realising the need for a .ceo domain.

    Will be intestesting to see how this plays out.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      No, that statement refers to names registered during the sunrise period, where evidence of a trademark was required. The squatter came later.

Add Your Comment