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Go Daddy launches paid YouTube clone

Go Daddy has opened the doors of Video.me, a video-hosting service with a difference.

The difference is you have to pay for it.

The company seems to be banking on the idea that users will be happy to hand over $2 per month, rather than use YouTube for free, because Video.me has simpler password protection.

“People want privacy online, it’s obvious from the all of the recent news,” chief executive Bob Parsons said in a press release. “YouTube has been the place for mass-consumption videos, but for sharing more personal items, it’s way too complicated.”

Most of the recent news about online privacy has been focused on Facebook. I don’t think I’ve seen many people complaining about YouTube.

Still, at the very least the service is a high-profile use of a .me domains, which could help Go Daddy as a partner in Domen, the Montenegro-based .me registry.

Google blocks Go Daddy for ‘hosting malware’

(UPDATED) Google is currently blocking Go Daddy’s web site, calling it dangerous, because one of its image-hosting domains has been flagged for hosting malware.

Chrome users visiting pages on godaddy.com, including its storefront, currently see the standard Google alert page: “Warning: Visiting this site may harm your computer!”

Go Daddy’s main page seems to be affected because it uses images hosted at img5.wsimg.com, a Go Daddy domain.

A bit of a poke around reveals that the whole of wsimg.com is currently considered a malware site by Google’s toolbar on non-Chrome browsers, and also by the Google search engine.

The question is, of course, whether this is a simple false positive or whether bad guys have somehow managed to inject malware onto Go Daddy’s servers.

Go Daddy’s web site takes revenue in the six figures every hour, so if this is a false positive I can only imagine the content of the phone calls between Scottsdale and Mountain View right now.

But Go Daddy has been a target for the bad guys in recent weeks, with attacks against its hosting customers proving an irritant that the company can’t seem to shake off.

The company was also the victim of a phishing attack yesterday. I’d be surprised if the two incidents are connected.

UPDATE: Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s chief operating officer, just called to say that this was indeed a false positive.

“Google erroneously flagged some of our image servers,” he said. “We need to go into this with Google, but there wasn’t any malware on our end.”

Adelman said Go Daddy has a pretty good idea what happened, but that it proved hard to get hold of the relevant people at Google on a Sunday morning during Memorial Day weekend.

Further details may be forthcoming later this week. For now, Google has apparently unflagged the servers in question, and Adelman expects the situation to be resolved within the hour.

Go Daddy tech support is a cash cow

Go Daddy’s call center support staff make the company hundreds of thousands of dollars a day in up-sells, according to documents revealed as part of an employee class-action lawsuit.

I covered the lawsuit (PDF), filed by three former Go Daddy employees, for The Register on Friday.

One of the plaintiffs, Toby Harris, was fired after he leaked “confidential” screenshots of the company’s CRM system to his home email address.

I’m not going to get into the details of the lawsuit, which concerns labor practices, here.

But the screenshots, which offer a bit of insight into how much revenue these front-line call center staff make for Go Daddy, are worth looking at.

According to one, Harris delivered over $10,000 in gross sales for the company over nine working days in January, taking about 5% of that for himself in commission.

Not bad for a rookie $12-an-hour support guy, considering how cheap most Go Daddy products are.

Another CRM screen shows the performance of a couple dozen members of Harris’ team, including how much commission they made over a two-week period and how many customer calls they handled.

These 23 employees made between $1,290 and $255 in commissions over the period, averaging $564 each, dealing with on average 31 calls each per day.

If that’s 5% of the gross, over 10 business days, you could try to extrapolate some company-wide data, but the screenshot probably represents too small a sample to make any precise calculations.

Still, it’s pretty clear that that a substantial chunk of Go Daddy’s revenue is generated by call center staff.

Harris told me he was expected to shift $250 to $450 worth of product every day, the equivalent of selling at least one new $8 domain name to every caller.

Domain Name Wire reported last December that the company had 1,600 support staff. At the low end of $250 a day, that would equate to $400,000 a day or $146 million a year from the phones alone.

I guess I found this a little surprising because while I always knew Go Daddy’s web site was a cash machine, I had assumed its call center spent most of its time providing technical support.

As a customer, I often wondered how the company managed to run such a high-quality support service on such a pitifully low-margin loss-leader.

Now I know. Judging by these leaked numbers, those guys more than pay for themselves.

Verizon hires investigator to track down DirectNIC bosses

Verizon has won a delay in its cybersquatting lawsuit against domain registrar DirectNIC, because it can’t seem to track down and serve its CEO, Sigmund Solares.

In its latest filings with the Florida District Court, Verizon says that it had to hire a private detective to track down DirectNIC director Michael Gardner, and ended up serving his wife instead.

But, two months after filing the suit, the company still hasn’t managed to track down Solares.

“Plaintiff continues to diligently attempt to serve the lone remaining Defendant yet to be served, Sigmund Solares… Plaintiffs continue to diligently try to locate and serve this Defendant.”

DirectNIC, previously known as Intercosmos Media Group, relocated to the Cayman Islands from New Orleans in 2008, which may explain some of Verizon’s difficulty.

Indeed, when Verizon turned up to serve the company in New Orleans, it found its old office (from where employees attracted global attention for live-blogging Hurricane Katrina) closed.

Verizon sued DirectNIC, along with several directors and alleged aliases, in March, claiming they had squatted on at least 288 domains that included Verizon trademarks.

The case is of note because Verizon alleges that DirectNIC broke US cybersquatting laws when it parked expired domains that contained Verizon trademarks.

Parking pre-delete expired names is a common practice among registrars, which makes the lawsuit puzzling.

But Verizon does appear to be digging for something else, its complaint suggesting a connection between DirectNIC and its nominal registrants that may not be entirely kosher.

Without legal discovery, its hunches could go nowhere. And before Solares is served, it cannot proceed to discovery.

The court has granted an extension until late August, or 30 days after Solares is served, for the first case management meeting.

Africa gets its third ICANN registrar

It’s been over eight years since ICANN held its public meeting in Accra, but only now has Ghana got its first accredited domain name registrar.

Ghana Dot Com becomes Africa’s third ICANN-approved registrar, the first new accreditation on the continent since 2007.

The first African registrar was Burundi’s AfriRegister, the second Kheweul.com of Senegal.

Ghana Dot Com appears to be the dba of Network Computer Systems Ltd, the ISP that already manages Ghana’s .gh ccTLD.

Its chairman, Nii Quaynor, is a former member of the ICANN board of directors, elected in 2000 and serving until 2003.

Ghana has about 23 million citizens and almost one million internet users, according to InternetWorldStats.com.