Afilias has acquired .pro registry manager Registry Services Corporation, which does business as RegistryPro, for an undisclosed sum.
The deal will see .pro domain names migrate to Afilias’s back-end, bringing the number of TLDs the company supplies registry services for to 17, the largest of which is
It’s not yet clear whether the deal includes Zip.pro, a “local search” service operated by RegistryPro’s former parent Hostway using tens of thousands of self-owned zip code .pro domains.
(UPDATE: Afilias has confirmed that Zip.pro is staying with Hostway. The former owner of .pro is essentially now its biggest customer.)
Hostway bought RegistryPro in early 2004 shortly before .pro went live. The deal was somewhat controversial at the time.
Since May last year the company has been headed by CEO Karim Jiwani, a former Afilias executive. Jiwani will stay in place as president of RegistryPro, Afilias said.
While RegistryPro has been offering new gTLD back-end registry services since last June, the acquisition “is specifically in support of the .pro domain,” the Afilias spokesperson said.
The gTLD will be migrated to Afilias’ back-end infrastructure, he confirmed.
“A migration plan is being put into place,” the spokesperson said. “Current .pro customers will see no issues; the platform change will be invisible to them (and as easy as possible for registrars.)”
ICANN was told about the deal, but did not need to approve it because the corporate structure of RegistryPro has not changed, he said.
The .pro gTLD has about 45 registrars, though only four of them have taken more than 10,000 registrations. EnCirca, which signed up on day one, leads the pack with 13,000 domains.
However, Network Solutions and RU-Center came on board in 2008 and have been responsible for contributing most of the gTLD’s organic growth in the last few years.
Despite these modest improvements, .pro is still broadly considered very much an also-ran gTLD.
It had roughly 117,000 registered .pro domains at the last official count, but 43,000 of those are US zip codes registered by a shell company belonging to Hostway back in 2008.
It appears that this Zip.pro service is a similar concept to the Employ Media-backed Universe.jobs services – an exercise in mass domain development backed by the (former) registry itself.
At some point quite recently, some of these zip code domains have started going live with what could be loosely be described as “content”.
If you visit 94110.pro, for example, you’ll see a bunch of stuff about the Mission district in San Francisco, an old haunt of mine.