Domaining icon Frank Schilling’s new venture, Uniregistry, has applied for “scores” of new generic top-level domains, “most” of which he expects to be contested.
Schilling won’t say exactly how many or which strings Uniregistry is pursuing, but he did reveal that while he is not going for .web, he will be in contention with Google for .lol.
“It’s closer to TLDH than Donuts,” Schilling told DI in an interview this evening, referring to the announcements of Top Level Domain Holdings’ 68 and Donuts’ 307 applications.
I’m guessing it’s around the 40 to 50 mark.
Despite the portfolio and Schilling’s history in domain investing, Uniregistry isn’t what you might call a “domainer” play.
The company doesn’t plan on keeping whole swathes of premium real estate for itself or for auction, Schilling said. Nor does it intend to rip off trademark owners.
“We’ve seen good TLDs fail with bad business plans,” he said, pointing to premium-priced .tv as an example. “You need to allow other people to profit, to evangelize your space.”
“I’m not going to get as rich from this as some of our registrants,” he said.
Uniregistry only plans to hold back a “handful” of premium names, Schilling said. The rest will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
To avoid creating wastelands of parked domains, the company plans to deploy technical countermeasures to prevent too many domains falling into too few hands.
“The way we’re going stage the landrush it will be very difficult to game it,” he said. “There’ll be significant rate limiting, so you can’t come and take 500 domains in ten milliseconds.”
“What we want to avoid is someone going in and getting 100,000 of the best ones on day one. It’s not fair, and it’s unhealthy for the space.”
Schilling is one of the industry’s most successful domainers. His company, Name Administration, is one of the largest single owners of second-level domain names.
Now Schilling says he’s brought his considerable experience as a domain name registrant Uniregistry’s business model and policies.
The company’s message is that it’s “registrant-centered”.
While that sounds like an easy, glib marketing statement, Schilling is backing it up with some interesting policies.
He’s thinking about a much closer relationship between the registry and the registrant that you’d see in the .com space.
When a second-level domain in a Uniregistry gTLD expires, registrants will get 180 days to claim it back from the registry, possibly even circumventing the registrar.
Uniregistry will even directly alert the registrant that their name is going to expire, a policy that Schilling said has been modeled in part on what Nominet does in the .uk space.
“Registrants have the ability to go to the registry to manage their .co.uk, to transfer the domain, to change certain pieces of information,” he said.
The 180-day policy is designed in part to prevent registrars harvesting their customers most valuable domains when they forget to renew them.
Rogue registrars and registrars competing against their own customers are things that evidently irk Schilling.
“I prefer a system that protects registrants,” he said.
But existing registrars are still the company’s proposed primary channel to market, he said. Uniregistry plans to price its domains in such a way as to give registrars a 50% margin.
“I think there’s enough margin in these strings for registrars to make a great living,” Schilling said.
Schilling hasn’t ruled out an in-house pocket registrar, but said it wouldn’t be created to undercut the regular channel.
The company has hired Internet Systems Consortium, maker of BIND and operator of the F-Root, as its back-end registry provider.
Judging by Uniregistry’s web site, which carries photos of many ISC staff, it’s an unusually close relationship.
I’ll have more on Uniregistry’s plans for Whois and trademark protection in a post later.