MarkMonitor has become the first accredited registrar to carry over 500 gTLDs.
Inspired by a recent Dynadot press release outlining its passing of the 500-TLD mark, I thought I’d put together a league table of gTLD registrars, ordered by which carries the most.
It will come as little surprise to most that brand protection registrars dominate the top end of the list.
MarkMonitor tops the league, with 504 gTLDs in its stable as of the end of June, up from 499 in May.
It’s closely followed by Ascio and CSC. Indeed, brand-focused registrars occupy many of the top 30 registrars, as you can see from this table.
There’s no real correlation between the number of gTLDs carried and the total domains under management for the registrar.
GoDaddy, with 53 million names, is way down in 28th position, for example.
The list was compiled from the latest gTLD registry reports, which show how many domains were registered to each accredited registrar at the end of June.
The data does not not include ccTLDs, nor does it account for situations where registrars may retail a TLD via a gateway or as a reseller of another registrar.
ICANN has implicated a Chinese domain name registrar in the online selling of medications, including Viagra and Cialis, without the required prescription.
The organization’s Compliance department filed a contract breach notice with Nanjing Imperiosus, which does business as DomainersChoice.com, today.
The move follows an allegation from pharmacy watchdog LegitScript in the US Congress that DomainersChoice is “rogue internet pharmacy operator”.
Because ICANN has no authority to police online pharmacies, it’s gone after the registrar based on an obscure part of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement.
Section 3.7.7 of the 2013 RAA says that domains must be registered to a third party, unless they’re used by the registrar in the course of providing its registrar services.
According to ICANN, DomainersChoice has refused to provide evidence that many of its domains are not in fact registered to itself and CEO Stefan Hansmann, in violation of this clause.
It cites 5mg-cialis20mg.com, acheterdutadalafil.com, viagra-100mgbestprice.net and 100mgviagralowestprice.net as examples of domains apparently registered to Hansmann and his company.
Historical Whois records show Hansmann and Nanjing Imperiosus as the registrant of these names until recently.
The domains all refer to erectile dysfunction medicines, which are usually only available in the US with a prescription.
A reverse Whois lookup reveals Hansmann’s name in the records for many more pharmaceuticals-related domains, some of which are for more serious medical conditions.
Several of the domains contain the words “without prescription” or similar, where the drug in question requires a prescription in the US.
Some of the domains do not currently resolve or no longer provide current Whois records and others have been recently transferred, but some resolve to apparently active e-commerce sites.
ICANN’s breach notice (pdf) doesn’t allege any illegal activity.
The same cannot be said for LegitScript CEO John Horton, who lumped DomainersChoice in with a few other registrars he believes are operating “illegal online pharmacies”.
Horton testified (pdf) before Congress last month that the registrar was playing host to 2,300 such sites.
The testimony was filed September 14, the same day ICANN began its compliance investigation.
ICANN’s notice, which alleges a handful of other relatively trivial breaches, asks that Hansmann provide a full list of domains registered in his and his company’s name via DomainersChoice.
It also demands evidence that the domains were either used to provide registrar services or were registered to a third party.
It wants all that by November 2, after which it may start to terminate the company’s RAA.
NameCheap may have sold over a million .xyz domains, but apparently it will sell no more than that.
The registrar confirmed to DI this evening that it is no longer taking .xyz registrations. It declined to explain why.
It has also stopped selling .college and .rent domains — two other gTLDs owned by XYZ.com. Other new gTLDs are not affected.
It’s reportedly not accepting inbound transfers either, though existing domains can be renewed.
The switch-off happened at the end of last month, a NameCheap representative said.
That’s just one month after the registrar celebrated its one millionth .xyz registration, which XYZ.com commemorated with a blog post bigging up NameCheap’s user-customers.
The move is peculiar indeed. NameCheap is the third highest-volume .xyz registrar, behind West.cn and Uniregistry, responsible for about 15% of .xyz’s domains under management.
It’s also NameCheap’s biggest direct-selling gTLD by a considerable margin.
NameCheap is well-known as primarily an eNom reseller — it accounts for 28% of eNom’s domains under management and 18% of its revenue, largely from .com sales.
But with new gTLDs it has started selling domains on its own IANA ticker, meaning a direct connection to the registry and more gross profit for itself.
According to June’s registry reports, the million .xyz names accounted for roughly two thirds of NameCheap’s total DUM (not counting names sold via eNom).
The closet rival in its portfolio is .online, which provided the registrar with about 81,000 DUM.
The registrar added about 350,000 .xyz domains in June, a month in which it briefly offered them at $0.02 each.
At that time, the company reported technical issues that led to a 12-24 hour backlog of registrations to process, though its blog post announcing the problem appears to have since been deleted.
NameCheap has declined to comment on the reason for the surprise move, and XYZ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The fact that all of XYZ.com’s TLDs have been cut off suggests some kind of dispute between the two companies, but the fact that renewals can still be processed would suggest that NameCheap has not lost its .xyz accreditation.
More info if I get it…
GoDaddy has published a new specification designed to make it easier for domain owners to quickly set up web sites using third-party site-building tools.
Its new Domain Connect Initiative is tailored for customers who do not know how to configure a DNS record and do not care to learn,according to Charles Beadnall, senior VP of domains.
While signing up for a participating site-building service, Shopify for example, customers currently have to either figure out how to manually reconfigure their DNS or get GoDaddy’s customer support to talk them through it.
GoDaddy currently receives tens of thousands of customer support calls every year related to these scenarios, Beadnall said.
But using Domain Connect, instead they will be able to simply enter their domain name with Shopify and, after authenticating with their registrar (via OAUTH), their domain’s DNS will be automatically configured to point to their new site.
This saves the customer’s time and GoDaddy’s money.
Under the hood, it works using a series of templates, authored by the service providers, which instruct the registrar or DNS provider in how to set up the domain to use the service, Beadnall said.
Due to the high risk of malicious exploitation, it’s not completely frictionless. Service provider templates must be manually pre-approved and white-listed by registrars, Beadnall said.
As the system does not involve domain registration or transfer it’s not really within ICANN’s policy wheelhouse, so the spec has instead been published via the IETF.
It has already been embraced by leading rival registrars eNom, Name.com and United Domains, as well as toolmakers including Microsoft, Shopify and Wix.
The announcement of Domain Connect was made a couple of weeks ago while I was off sick.
More information and documentation can be found on the Domain Connect web site.
GoDaddy has acquired ManageWP, a provider of software for managing large numbers of WordPress sites, leading to hundreds of complaints from customers.
The two companies announced yesterday that the deal will see GoDaddy integrate ManageWP into its existing suite of WordPress services.
ManageWP said pricing will be unaffected by the move, and that its service will continue to be available to customers using other hosting providers.
Despite these assurances, a few hundred ManageWP customers have over the last 24 hours expressed their dismay in comments on the company’s site.
“This is like my very best friend announcing they’re marrying the arsehole in the office,” wrote one commenter.
ManageWP customers are generally web developers who manage WordPress sites for multiple clients.
The service gives them the ability, for free, to manage these sites from a single console, rather than having to log in to each one individually.
For an extra couple of bucks per site per month, features such as daily backups and white-label client reports are available.
ManageWP said its product development roadmap will remain unchanged, and that GoDaddy may offer some currently premium features to its hosting customers for free.
About 8% of ManageWP sites run on GoDaddy, the company said in a blog post.
Despite the positive spin, a great many customers appear to be deeply unhappy that the six-year-old company is joining the Arizona behemoth.
At time of writing, there are already over 300 comments on the ManageWP post announcing the deal, almost all negative.
The bulk of the comments center on GoDaddy’s allegedly poor customer support and its reputation for constantly trying to up-sell products and services.
Here’s a small sample of comments:
I cancelled my account immediately upon reading this news.
I have never dealt with a worse company in my professional life than GoDaddy, and will never do so again. One of my requirements for taking on a new client is moving them off GoDaddy completely.
My main concern from a business perspective is that you are giving away premium features free to GoDaddy hosting customers. That is a direct conflict with the people that offer ManageWP as a service to their clients. The services we provide now seem like they are worth less to our clients who host at GoDaddy.
Bummed about this. The minute I see an up-sell notification slammed in my face trying to get me to join the GoDaddy hosting plan, I’m outta here.
Some of the comments appear to be rooted in experiences during the Bob Parsons era at GoDaddy, which came to an end over five years ago.
Commenters cited “sexist” advertising (largely a thing of the past under current CEO Blake Irving), support for the controversial SOPA legislation (spearheaded by a long-gone general counsel) and that time Parsons shot an elephant.
Many commenters said they will stick around post-acquisition, such is the goodwill ManageWP has earned.
Several ManageWP employees engaged directly with their customers comments. In one response, head of growth Nemanja Aleksic wrote:
the feedback here is something that GoDaddy will definitely need to consider. I’ve been asked by several people why I don’t lock the comments or moderate heavily. This is why. Every single bad and good comment is a ManageWP user whose livelihood could be affected by the acquisition. And every single one of the deserves to be heard.
Personally, as somebody who manages multiple WordPress sites on GoDaddy, but has never used ManageWP, I’m rather looking forward to seeing what the company comes up with.