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.hiv to auction with “no profiting” catch

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2015, 09:31:07 (UTC), Domain Registries

Don’t all rush to your checkbooks at once.

The live TLD .hiv is going to be among the next batch of new gTLDs auctioned off by Innovative Auctions, but the contract comes with a no-profit clause.

Innovative and dotHIV Registry announced the sale yesterday.

.hiv is an unsuccessful gTLD so far. It had just over 2,000 registered names at the end of 2014, according to registry reports, but never more than 423 the names have been present in the DNS.

Registry CEO Carolin Silbernagl said:

In the eight months since our launch we have gained a lot of insight about what it needs to reach this. The reason why we are offering .hiv for sale is because we see how successful it can be. However, we realized that dotHIV is not the right vehicle for the next phase – the TLD needs a bigger and more international home to truly spread its wings.

It went to general availability last August, with an innovative but risky business model based around charitable micro-donations to HIV/AIDS causes.

Of the $200 annual retail fee, dotHIV put $120 into a pool reserved for charities. Every visit to a .hiv that was participating in a “Click Counter” service would cause a small amount of that money to actually be donated.

Judging by visits to a few .hiv domains this morning, just €862 — less than $1,000 — has been donated so far, based on fewer than 133,000 clicks.

This donation model is “just one of many possible uses” and not a contractual requirement, according to Silbernagl.

There is, however, a binding Public Interest Commitment that obliges the registry to give “all excess profits” to HIV causes. The PIC reads:

Registry Operator commits to implementing and performing the following protections for the TLD: Registry Operator, as a social enterprise, is driven by its sole mission to support the global HIV response. Therefore, Registry Operator will reinvest all excess profits in projects serving this mission.

Not it’s not exactly an attractive investment opportunity, in terms of pure cash ROI.

But Innovative said there’s another reason to buy: “Approaching .hiv as a corporate philanthropic engagement could have positive effects on public image and employee satisfaction for the buyer.”

.hiv is due to be part of the June 3/4 live gTLD auction, which also includes .promo.

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Comments (4)

  1. Seb says:

    .HIV has already truly spread its wings, no need for a bigger and more international home.

    The PIC will kill this extension and there will be no buyer.

    “employee satisfaction for the buyer”………. really ?

  2. Rubens Kuhl says:

    It seems ICANN will know soon enough whether EBERO, the contingency system for failed TLDs, works.

  3. Seb says:

    The cemetery for new gTLDs is about to open and it will need lots of room.

  4. Rubens Kuhl says:

    It’s also of notice that the .hiv PIC mentions “excess profits”, not “profits”; excess profits are meant to be measured against a guideline of what would be a normal profit of a sector. Afilias in 2013 had 72.5 mi euros in turnover with a 28.9 mi euros profit, so if that’s assumed as a baseline, only profits exceeding 40% of revenues would be required to be donated to HIV-related causes.

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