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GRS has lost three million domains since Famous Four died

Kevin Murphy, May 28, 2019, 14:25:12 (UTC), Domain Registries

The old Famous Four Media gTLD portfolio has shrunk by roughly 60% since old management were kicked out.

At the same time, the new registry is selling less than one percent of the domains it used to add each month.

The 16 TLDs, now managed by GRS Domains, have a total of approximately 2 million domains in their zone files today, compared to about 5 million at the end of August 2018.

Last August was when GRS, which seems to have taken over the portfolio about a year ago, announced that it was introducing “much more transparent and sensible pricing strategy” of $9.98 per domain per year across the board.

Its 16 TLDs include the likes of .loan, .win and .bid. Many had been offered in the sub-$1 range, largely via former affiliate AlpNames, attracting huge volumes of registrations but low renewals and a lot of spammers.

I compared the zone file counts at the end of August 2018 to yesterday’s numbers, rounding to the nearest thousand, and came up with this:

TLDThenNowChangeChange (%)
TOTAL5,092,0002,010,000-3,082,000-60.53
accountant64,00022,000-42,000-65.63
bid318,000104,000-214,000-67.30
cricket26,0008,000-18,000-69.23
date155,00061,000-94,000-60.65
download146,00046,000-100,000-68.49
faith62,00021,000-41,000-66.13
loan2,200,000990,000-1,210,000-55.00
men421,000144,000-277,000-65.80
party122,00044,000-78,000-63.93
racing81,00033,000-48,000-59.26
review260,00060,000-200,000-76.92
science95,00039,000-56,000-58.95
stream319,000130,000-189,000-59.25
trade182,00068,000-114,000-62.64
webcam60,00027,000-33,000-55.00
win581,000213,000-368,000-63.34

Don’t think for a second that the correction is over. The story of the old FFM portfolio’s decline will roll for many more months. Each TLD is still seeing monthly deletes in the thousands.

The number of new regs across the portfolio every month has dropped off a cliff — a big cliff with jagged rocks and sharks circling at the bottom — since the August price changes.

Whereas in January 2018 the 16 gTLDs saw a combined total of over 400,000 adds, by January 2019 this had dropped to fewer than 1,700, a 99.59% decline.

TLDAdds Jan 18Adds Jan 19ChangeChange (%)
TOTAL400,6921,645-399,047-99.59
accountant6,58222-6,560-99.67
bid2225871-22,187-99.68
cricket3,35713-3,344-99.61
date11,27823-11,255-99.80
download12,83030-12,800-99.77
faith4,44031-4,409-99.30
loan20649936-206,463-99.98
men23,98853-23,935-99.78
party16,862143-16,719-99.15
racing4,27135-4,236-99.18
review16,95649-16,907-99.71
science9,501101-9,400-98.94
stream19,655101-19,554-99.49
trade12,300123-12,177-99.00
webcam5,54127-5,514-99.51
win24,374787-23,587-96.77

In each case, the drop-off in adds started in August last year. Each TLD went almost immediately from thousands of new regs per month, to under 100.

I compared Januaries because January 2019 is the date of the most-recent registry transaction data. January 2018 was not an atypically strong month for sales for any of the TLDs; for many, it was on the slow side.

Famous Four was replaced by GRS about a year ago after investors in Domain Venture Partners, the ultimate owner of the portfolio, fell out with FFM management.

The registrar AlpNames, which was responsible for a huge share of FFM’s sales and was managed by the same people, has also since gone out of business.

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Comments (10)

  1. A registrar says:

    The real question is if the registry is profitable with sensible pricing and likely a lot less abuse to deal with…

  2. Source of Intel says:

    5/6 of the .loan registrations yesterday at sub $2 look like this:

    dmrma.loan
    brkwzt.loan
    rhjphh.loan
    wdostx.loan
    xfsefd.loan

    How long will they use Alpnames as an excuse?

  3. tldstats says:

    The Famous Four Media domains did not come largely from alpnames as you say in your article.

    According to the icann registry reports from last year the large registrars are Alibaba and Namecheap. Alpnames was only a VERY small contributor to the 5M+ domain they had last year

    The lesson here is: don’t let PWC run your registry as this is what you end up with…

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Alibaba and Namecheap have indeed created more FFM domains over the full history of the 16 TLDs, but that’s largely due to .loan regs in 2018. Before it started going belly-up, AlpNames was the clear leader across the bulk of the portfolio.

  4. tldstats says:

    This is a myth you are propagating Kevin. The numbers show a different story.

    In Jan 2018 alpnames had 655k registrations across the FFM domains and Namecheap had 1.283M.

    That month Alpnames had 91k .loan under management and Namecheap 30k .loan

    FFM had about 5.6M domains in total so Alpnames only had 10% of the total volume.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      What myth?

      As I just said, I grant you that Namecheap and Alibaba have had more registrations in FFM’s TLDs.

      It was true prior to 2018 that AlpNames was the leading registrar for all of the FFM TLDs except .loan.

      • tldstats says:

        ICANN numbers for January 2017 show Alpnames had about 950k registrations in the TLDs. FFM had well over 4M domains so Alpnames only had a little over 20%. It looks like other asian registrars had the majority of the registrations.

        The real question is how the current TLD administrator PWC managed to so totally alienate their registrar and registrant customers.

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