File these rumors under: unconfirmed, but plausible.
Sometimes the gossip is impossible to confirm to the extent that I’m comfortable reporting it as fact, but interesting enough that I think it could use a wider airing.
Here are three examples of Stuff We’ve Heard Recently. Take it all with a great big pinch of salt.
Go Daddy to become a registry
The world’s largest registrar is poised to make an entrance into the registry market, it is whispered.
The rumors don’t go as far as to whether the company plans to apply for some new gTLDs itself, or whether it plans to become a back-end registry services provider, or something else.
But if ICANN’s new relaxed stance on vertical separation means its competitors plan to join the registry space, it seems likely that Go Daddy will want a piece of the action too.
It is already a joint-venture partner in .me registry Domen, though I believe Afilias is responsible for the technical heavy lifting at the back end.
It’s too early to speculate too much, but I’ve written before that Go Daddy is possibly the only registrar likely to catch the attention of competition watchdogs if it decides to vertically integrate.
The official word from Go Daddy when I asked for confirmation a few weeks ago was: “We have no comment and we have no formal announcement pending.”
.pro to be liberalized
Multiple sources say that the restricted .pro gTLD, which has been around but seriously under-used since 2004, is set to begin to undergo a significant liberalization soon.
I’m expecting to see operator RegistryPro, which is now owned by HostWay, file a Registry Services Evaluation Process request with ICANN in the next few weeks.
Details are sketchy, but I would not be surprised if the company says it wants to do away with its restrictive registration policy entirely.
Currently, registrants have to provide evidence of professional credentials if they want to register a .pro name, although there’s a huge loophole that allows registrations via credentialed proxies.
RegistryPro hired itself a new CEO, Karim Jiwani, in May, and it’s been broadly predicted that he plans to shake up .pro to make it more of a commercial success.
Its parent may have already put in some of the groundwork for a .jobs-style directory service – HostWay, via a shell company, registered over 40,000 US zip codes in .pro in August 2010.
MarkMonitor gets acquired
This is more speculation than rumor.
There’s a wave of M&A activity in the domain name industry, as companies prepare for introduction of new gTLDs, and one of the potential growth areas is brand management.
With hundreds of new gTLDs likely to launch over a relatively short space of time, companies such as MarkMonitor could find their services in more demand than ever.
Whenever I ask anyone which registrars they think are likely to be hit by the consolidation bug, MarkMonitor is always on the shortlist.
The private company is backed by venture capitalists which will no doubt be looking to execute an exit strategy sooner or later, but the list of potential buyers is quite small.
Consider it a hunch, for now.