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DNA has new plan for gTLD auctions: give us your money!

Kevin Murphy, May 14, 2014, 21:13:02 (UTC), Domain Registries

The Domain Name Association is hoping to raise funds for marketing by hosting private new gTLD auctions, according to executive director Kurt Pritz.

Chair Adrian Kinderis made the pitch at a meeting of the New TLD Applicants Group today.

The DNA is hoping to tempt applicants that are reluctant to participate in existing private auction schemes because they don’t want their money going to competitors.

Instead, the winning bid in an auction managed by the DNA would go straight into the DNA’s marketing and operations budget, to the potential benefit of the whole new gTLD industry.

Participating applicants would get to choose how the money would be split been marketing and the general DNA kitty.

The organization hasn’t picked an auction provider yet, and no applicants are yet committed to the plan, Pritz said.

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Comments (34)

  1. Tom G says:

    This is a great idea. I hope some strings can be resolved this way. The more, the better imo.

  2. Sure, give it to the people that register fake trademarks so they buy domains in sunrise ahead of everyone else.

    So the registries will be paying those that are trying to game their business.

    That is a great “business” model for DNA.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      These are auctions for the TLD operation, not for registering names in the TLD… trademarks were not require to apply for a TLD, and very few trademarks won legal rights objections against gTLD applicants.

      • John Berryhill says:

        The poster child for the fake trademark premium name scam is an executive member of DNA.

      • Kevin Murphy says:

        Konstantinos is referring to Erik Ludwick of What Box, who’s on the board of the DNA and is one of the guys who’s been registering dodgy trademarks in Switzerland in order to grab premium names during sunrise.

      • Rubens please carefully read what I wrote.
        I am talking about sunrise domain name registrations and not New gTLD strings.

        • Rubens Kuhl says:

          Yes, but the topic here is auctions about new gTLD strings… these are the auctions that DNA is suggesting to get proceeds from, not from name registrations (sunrise, landrush etc.)

          • Kevin Murphy says:

            Konstantinos knows that, he’s making a point about not giving money to people who behave in unethical ways.

          • But the point is who is DNA and what do they represent?
            We don’t need another “association” protecting the trademark rights for non existent products. Nobody should fund these people. Thanks but no thanks.

  3. Perhaps if DNA represented the interests of smaller registries and ALL new gTLD applicants it would be a consideration. Look at their membership and you can be the judge of whether smaller registries or players are represented in voting at DNA. The devil is in the details.

    Firstly we had the private auctions in which registries such as Donuts, Radix, Minds & Machines participated to be “paid off” if they lost the auctions.

    Now we have the DNA proposal where the DNA (whose members include Google, Amazon, Donuts, Radix and Minds & Machines) to be given auction money?

    And how many small registries does DNA represent? Who founded NDA? Oh yes, Google did.

    Executive membership fees at DNA cost $50,000/year which guarantees a spot on the DNA Board. Which small, non-portfolio applicant would spend $50k a year to have a voice on the DNA Board? Zero.

    Has DNA ever put a word to support diversity in the new gTLD program or any language to support smaller new gTLD Applicants such as community applicants or non-portfolio applicants? Never seen that ever.

    Last thing anyone wants is to put auction money in an organization that is geared to benefit a select few who can afford to pay the $20k-$50k per year membership price tag at the expense of smaller applicants who can not.

    I heard the Google talk about giving auction monies to select non-for profits and my guess is this is the non-for profit they are referring to which was founded by Google itself.

    ICANN would never agree to give auction monies to DNA to push the agenda for a select few who can afford to pay membership to join DNA.

    Sounds like more “recycling” of monies to benefit portfolio applicants to exert more influence in the process (not that they have not done such a thing already) at the expense of smaller players and competition.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      I don’t see size as a limitation to DNA representation, as DNA board members from non high-paying members are elected. What DNA is currently somewhat biased is towards commercial gTLD registries, whether 1-string or 300-string ones, with not much representation (although not null) from community TLDs, brand registries, ccTLDs… not because DNA prevented them from joining, but due to those groups already being organised with regional ccTLD orgs (CENTR, LACTLD etc.) and interest groups (CTAG, BRG, GeoTLDs).

      What could be useful, and I suggest DNA officials to consider it, would be the invite these organisations as members in order to expedite such inclusiveness. Individual members could still join.

      • Kurt Pritz says:

        Thanks Rubens:

        During the past several months, DNA members have attended and presented to CENTR, APTLD, ICANN’s Middle East Working Group, among others. We’ve collaborated on communications with leaders from APTLD, LACTLD, and the BRG, as well as with government representative.

        The primary focus of the DNA’s Technical Committee is Universal Acceptance and IDN email. The Committee has and is having briefings from IDN experts from China and elsewhere. The DNA is working with the ICANN effort and plans to become a repository of information so that others can build on existing work.

        We are delighted to have many ccTLD members as well as industry start-ups.

        Your recommendations are good and we will accelerate our focus in the areas you suggest.

      • Rubens,

        There is a clear bias to benefit those with deep pockets (again). You think a $20k-$50k a year membership fee is reasonable for a smaller player or a community applicant? Again, this association was primarily structured by portfolio applicants for portfolio applicants.

        Also I disagree with you about assuming that the reason that many members did not join was because there are other groups organized for the same reason, such as CTAG or BRG etc. It is all economics.

        Lastly, if you are assuming this is the reason why others have not joined then why join DNA and pay $20k-50k per year if you could be represented by NTAG for free? Aren’t all current paid members of DNA also members of NTAG?

        With all due respect it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who this association benefits and why. Why would a non-member agree to pay DNA auction monies is beyond me. Give me one good reason why DNA would be better suited than ICANN for using auction proceeds? Pitch me that. Do not just say you want auctions monies without proving to me that you will be all-inclusive of every single gTLD applicant not merely just represent DNA members and their agenda.

        • Rubens Kuhl says:

          NTAG has a strict mandate to operate within ICANN community, while DNA aims to represent the domain industry elsewhere. And even NTAG is not free, it requires an observer RySG membership fee which although much smaller than DNA, it’s not zero.

          ICANN previous history of using funds to advance causes is not stellar, as JAS (Joint Applicant Support) shows, so any alternative to ICANN Last Resort looks good to me. Whether is Applicant Auction, Right of the Dot, DNA or the Salvation Army, every contention set where members can agree on auction provider, auction rules and proceeds destinations are good to me.

    • Rob Hall says:

      Constantine,

      Once again you are way off base here. While Google did arrange the initial dinner that gathered a group of experts, they by no means sought to control the group.

      I was at that dinner and am proud to say I am one of the founders of the DNA and sat on the initial Board of Directors.

      I am not a large portfolio applicant for gTLD’s. I have 4 applications.

      I believe the DNA is about far more than just gTLD Registries. It seeks to represent the entire industry, and I believe will do so well.

      As to their Auction proposal, I think it is interesting but misses an opportunity.

      I doubt you will get all participants of an auction to agree to give up on the auction proceeds. Perhaps if it is a day before the ICANN auction. I do admit that I think the DNA would be better suited to use those funds for good purpose.

      However, I think the DNA is missing an opportunity here. They could also offer to host auctions using the same model in place now by others. Perhaps they could even take a slightly higher percentage of the auctions if all applicants agreed.

      I know that I would use the DNA for auctions rather than the other providers and I might even be OK with them taking a few percentage points more.

      Especially if they simplified it. Most auctions have 2-4 parties in them and we have these super complex schemes to auction. Sothebys regularly auctions far more value by doing an in person auction or even over the phone.

      It would be trivially simple to have 3 DNA reps in a room with the auctioneer on the phone with the applicants. The auction coulld be run in the same ascending manner with tiers even.

      The reality is we rely on overly complicated systems when they are not needed. Frankly, most of the people in the auction have known each other for years.

      As to trust, well the DNA has Kurt Pritz. We all know we have TLD’s today because of Kurt. I believe he is above reproach and I would be happy to trust him to be an impartial auctioneer.

      Keep it simple and they would have my business.

      Rob

      • Is it ok if your fellow DNA members steal 40 of your best keywords in sunrise in your 4 New GTLs using fake trademarks?

        • Rubens Kuhl says:

          Which automatically added these 40 keywords to reserved name lists of registries that launched since… actually, the TMCH Domain Name List is an excellent source of all those bogus trademarks for registries to avoid, and it’s available to all of them as soon they pass TMDB certification, before they submit TLD Startup Information.

          But your point is that if a single board member is a wrong-doer, the association will be used for that wrong-doing… and that’s not real.

      • Rob,

        I understand you are supporting DNA as a founding member and appreciate that you speak your mind. I just have many questions and reservations.

        If you believe I am off base please give me a compelling argument how it is “reasonable” for small applicants to cough up $50,000 per year to have a DNA seat on the table? And if a small applicant did spend $50k/year for a seat on the table what is the point of that when the majority voters are the portfolio players just of the high “fees” that can be afforded by them since they are already in business and participating in private auctions?

        I think NTAG thas shown pretty clearly that the tyranny of the majority is a problem. Minority interests are never represented unless it is consensus-driven which is not efficient when it comes to such affairs.

        Let me be clear about Google. If Google agreed to private auctions we would not be having these DNA auction conversations. However, it is because of Google’s reluctance to play with the rest of the portfolio applicants in the private auctions that has convinced me that DNA is much a product guided by Google’s direction.

        I will be the first to admit I am wrong if I see Google participate in a private auction or see Google not support DNA-run auctions.

        Thanks for the feedback.

  4. Jagan says:

    This should be made as a public auction. By allowing a few to set up private auctions, true investors & businesses are left out.
    Maybe, if it becomes public auction, everyone will know that not many are interested in buying TLDs. ICANN shouldn’t allow this type of huddling of TLD owners. Bad policy.

    • Rubens Kuhl says:

      I think you might be taking auctions of names in a TLD for auctions of the TLD operation itself. The contenders for each string is known publicly since June 2012, and there would be no way for ICANN to enforce a ban on private negotiations. On the contrary, applicant guidebook always suggested contestants to find ways to settle contention among themselves.

  5. Jean Guillon says:

    “to the potential benefit of the whole new gTLD industry” or “visibility of the DNA members?

    The only thing the DNA has done for me – a member of the new gTLD industry – is to send me their press release.

    I see 0 interest.

  6. Adrian Kinderis says:

    Seriously?

    Thank goodness Rubens is adding some sense and reason.

    What the hell happened to the Domain Incite readership? Sheesh.

    • Adrian,

      I think perhaps some of the readership might be looking at this from an economic and advocacy point of view. Lots of gTLD constituents do care how they will be represented by DNA and fairness of representation and advocacy. If DNA membership was free or fees were negligible this discussion might have a different vibe. Also who voted the DNA Board? Was it the founding members? Voting does play a big issue and at this point voting and DNA Board representation is tied to fees e.g guaranteed seat on the board if you pay $50k a year.

      I also have another question: What does DNA do that NTAG does not do, especially from an inclusiveness and a transparency point of view? At least NTAG is free. Under that note why not give auction monies to NTAG instead? Or split it amongst all constituencies like NTAG, CTAG, BRG, BC etc? Where do we draw the line?

      • Kurt Pritz says:

        Hi Constantine:

        Check out http://thedna.org webpage. You can: read about products members can download such as whatdomain,org; and compare membership benefits among the different membership levels; and our differences in membership and mission with other organizations. There are also online examples of our advocacy on behalf of Domain Name Industry in Internet Governance and other areas, services we offer our members, and the work industry experts from large and small organizations are doing though our Marketing, Policy and Technical Committees.

        It’s all pretty cool, and with demonstrable payback for every member – especially smaller organizations without the means to mobilize marketing and policy efforts. I will send you some materials offline, and would like to have a call.

        • Jean Guillon says:

          Hello Kurt,

          Would you introduce the DNA on gTLD.club ? (with a new gTLD approach)

        • Thanks Kurt.

          Is there any way you could describe how DNA will market new gTLDs? I understand the fee structure but it does create a barrier to entry for smaller applicants who do not have as many revenue sources as bigger applicants, including insider bargaining of their portfolio of TLDs in private auctions to generate “free” money. Smaller applicants e.g community applicants with one application do not have such luxury.

          That said, perhaps DNA can structure membership fees according to number of TLDs applied for/delegated to normalize membership in the same manner some music associations base their membership fees on total revenues or company size. Just a suggestion.

          Please email me some materials at your best convenience. I just think there needs to be an effort to include more ICANN participants in the mix.

          Thanks for the message.

  7. Tom G says:

    Here’s another option

    Instead of the auction monies going to the DNA non-profit organization, the auction proceeds could be invested into a for-profit entity whose objective is not just to raise awareness of New TLDs, but also is a registrar/web services business .

    The losing bidders would become vested in, maybe participate in directing and management of the new entity and share in the success.

    NewDots Co. Awareness Branding

    I think we all agree that New gTLDs need a boost in awareness among end users and the broader internet using public.

    Some may disagree, but it’s my opinion that “New gTLDs” need a branding makeover. Attempting to gain consumer awareness traction by promoting “New gTLDs” or “New Domains” will lead to poor roi. Both terms are offputting to the broad general public. The 1&1 $50 million campaign proved this.

    10, 20, 50 million dollars into an advertising campaign promoting “New Dots” could go a long way to raise awareness, and the business entity could eventually rival Godaddy in domains under management and hosting customers.

    If 1&1 had saved their $50 million and instead now put that money into a “New Dots” website campaign, it would have a much bigger impact, directly and generally. The reason their campaign fell flat is because people didn’t understand what they were talking about. You can’t explain New gTLDs in a 30 second spot for 1&1.

    A series of commercials with “New Dots” enticements leading up to a Super Bowl spot would change the entire landscape, and make everyone here a lot more money.

    “Why be .com when you could BeA.Ninja, BuildOn.London, ShowcaseYour.ART, GrowA.Garden, BeJustAbout.Anything?!?”

    The losing bidders would gain because they are both vested in the New Dots business model and because as more users become aware of New Dots, they will be registering more domains that many of the bidders operate. Also, end users would more quickly become acclimated to new tlds and be more comfortable using and navigating them. “Oh, that’s just one of the New Dot web addresses” They would think when seeing a website using a new extension.

    We at New Dot Media will be working on this awareness branding concept employing more of a grass roots approach, with our limited resources. But a more conventional advertising campaign with an investment injection would take it to another level and shift the entire new gtld adoption curve.

    Who wins if “New Dots” gains traction? Everyone. (Especially the New Dots website). Why wait for the Dot Big Bang? Let’s create it, makeit.Happen!

    I fully support DNA auction initiative, and would be thrilled if it gets participants. Anything to raise awareness and accelerate the shift is great. We all recognize TLDs could use a boost.

    But if people have a problem giving the DNA auction monies, maybe they’d prefer investing those monies into a combined for-profit venture to gain both a direct financial benefit and an overall awareness impact.

    A for-profit venture that losing bidders become partner in focused on awareness, education and sales of domain names and ancillary services.

    I don’t think there’s anything in the rules that prohibit this.

  8. JZ says:

    Dna is just a phoney “non profit” organization set up to ensure their investment in the new gtlds is pushed and made profitable. to think they care about the industry as a whole is extremely naive. just look at the membership…are there any members who don’t stand to directly benefit from the new gtlds? its a non profit who’s agenda is very much profit motivated.

    • JZ,

      Instead of throwing bulls#$t comments around why don’t you take 30 seconds to actually get some facts. Outside of that, why not participate instead of remaining an anonymous moron. If you did you would see we have quite a number of initiatives focused well outside the realm of “pushing newgTLDs and make them profitable”.

      I’ll take criticism when it is genuine. I won’t accept it is ill informed and from someone who chooses to hide and snipe from a distance without any substantive rationale.

      Action item for you JZ – go to http://www.thedna.org and have read.

      • DNA only supports registries and registrars. Nothing about the millions of registrants. So no thanks

        You are a non-profit (with members are a few of the biggest companies in the world) that only supports these big companies and other big companies.

        What have you done except elect new members and ask for money? Made a 5-line announcement?

        And asking for money when you are lobbying for Google, Go Daddy and Amazon is kinda of pathetic.

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