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Possibly the strangest new gTLD acquisition yet

Kevin Murphy, February 5, 2020, 23:08:11 (UTC), Domain Registries

The company running .icu has taken over a similar-sounding but ugly dot-brand from a Chinese games company.

ShortDot took over the ICANN registry agreement for .cyou from a Chinese games company in November, recently updated ICANN records show.

The seller is Beijing Gamease Age Digital Technology Co, which makes massively multiplayer online games targeted at the Chinese market.

The company is branded as Changyou.com and CYOU is its Nasdaq ticker symbol. The .cyou gTLD was not technically a dot-brand under ICANN rules.

Changyou signed its registry agreement with ICANN five years ago, but never registered any .cyou domains.

The decision to dump .cyou is no doubt related to the fact that Changyou is currently in the process of being reacquired and delisted by Sohu, its majority owner and former parent. The domain presumably soon will have no meaning for the company, even defensively.

It’s such a clumsy, otherwise meaningless string, that surely there was one one potential home for it: the .icu registry. Just as .icu can be read as “I see you”, .cyou can be read as “see you”.

ShortDot has had an inexplicable success with .icu in the last 12 months, during which it has become the industry volume leader in new gTLD sales. Today’s zone files show over SIX MILLION domains have been registered. That’s up from about 400,000 a year ago.

Most of its sales are coming via Chinese registrars, which are selling .icu names for under a dollar for the first year. It has yet to see its first junk drop.

If SpamHaus statistics are any guide, the buyers are largely domainers, rather than spammers. SpamHaus says .icu has under a 2% “badness” rating.

So, while .cyou would look like utter rubbish to any other registry, if ShortDot can bundle it with .icu, perhaps persuading a portion of its registrants to double-up, it may be worth a bit of money.

The registry expects to launch its new acquisition in June.

It’s the second branded gTLD ShortDot has acquired and repurposed after .bond, which used to belong to a university of the same name.

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Comments (5)

  1. wanker says:

    icu = intensive care unit in asia. for example Pakistan’s economy is perenially in the ICU 🙂

  2. Reviewu says:

    Spamhaus not being able to detect through Chinese firewall!

    qwq.icu
    blpw.icu
    blqw.icu
    bcjw.icu

    Explain this crap

  3. Peter M says:

    I’ve known of hundreds of different .icu domains being used for spamming… perhaps because of the low introductory fee (felt sure I saw offers of the first 100 .icu domains for free, when 200+ registered, on some site).

    The spam sent to one business client was related to COVID-19 and buying face masks. My client is a transport consultancy, but the sources of mail addresses by the millions is difficult to guess (just that they were getting 500+ spam messages a day before further filtering was added).

    They cannot filter by geographic area, as they do consultancy for shipping lines, airlines, railways and governments worldwide.

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