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Scary fitness trainer is new Go Daddy girl

Kevin Murphy, September 14, 2010, Domain Registrars

Jillian Michaels, a trainer from TV’s The Biggest Loser, is Go Daddy’s latest spokesmodel, according to CEO Bob Parsons.

Parsons just uploaded this publicity shot:

Jillian Michaels

She looks like she could happily beat the crap out of an entire ICANN meeting with one arm tied behind her back.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little scared.

Registrar banned from Swedish namespace

Kevin Murphy, September 14, 2010, Domain Registrars

A Danish registrar has been banned from selling .se domain names for 30 days after it registered a “large number” of names on behalf of customers but without their permission.

The Internet Infrastructure Foundation, which runs .se, had this to say (translated from Swedish):

One.com has registered during the summer a large number of domain names without having a mandate from customers. In several cases, inaccurate customer data has been used. This means that today there may be customers who are not aware that domain names are registered on their behalf.

One.com reportedly defended itself by saying it merely renewed names on its customers’ behalf, to prevent them losing their domains.

The company needs to rectify the situation within the month, or it faces a permanent ban.

UPDATE: One.com has released a statement explaining its side of the story.

It seems the company made its unauthorized renewals following a little customer confusion over recent billing changes made at the registry end. Here’s a PDF explaining its position. (thanks @findub)

Local news scrapes barrel with Whois lookup

Kevin Murphy, September 2, 2010, Domain Registrars

“Local man and 300,000 others killed in earthquake”.

You’ve seen the headlines. Local news operations will go to crazy lengths in order to put a local spin on international news.

This angle is new to me. The Province, a newspaper in British Columbia, Canada, yesterday managed to localize a hostage situation over 2,300 miles away in Maryland entirely because the gunman used a BC-based domain registrar.

The gunman identified as the suspect in an unfolding hostage situation at the Discovery Channel offices in Silver Spring, Maryland, uses a Burnaby-based company to host his website.

The suspect, identified in media reports as James Jay Lee, has a website named savetheplanetprotest.com. A Whois.com search shows the website is registered to a man by the same name and lists a Burnaby P.O. box as is [sic] address.

The registrar in question is DotEasy.com. It offers Whois privacy services at said PO Box. Unsurprisingly, the company had no comment.

The original The Province headline was “Gunman holding hostages at US Discovery Channel has tenative [sic] BC links”.

Links? A nutter registered a domain name. If all reporters followed this logic, the Scottsdale Times would be the busiest newspaper on the planet.

Two registrars get stay of execution

Kevin Murphy, August 19, 2010, Domain Registrars

ICANN has given two registrars another year of accreditation, after previously threatening to terminate their contracts for non-payment of fees.

Abansys & Hostytec and Namehouse, two small registrars, have had the terms of their registrar accreditation agreements extended to August 15, 2011 and July 6, 2011, respectively.

In June, ICANN had told both companies they would be de-accredited on July 1, 2010. Together, the two firms owed almost $20,000 in unpaid fees.

Yesterday, a small note appeared on ICANN’s compliance page:

18 August 2010: Abansys & Hostytec, S.L. RAA effective date extended to 15 August 2011.
18 August 2010: Namehouse, Inc. RAA effective date extended to 6 July 2011.

It’s not entirely clear to me whether this means the registrars have paid up or not. Unlike previous occasions, there’s no mention of whether the companies “cured all outstanding contract breaches”.

According to DotAndCo.net, neither registrar has any domains under management in the gTLDs, although Abansys & Hostytec claims to run over 100,000 domains.

Will Go Daddy be the next domain name IPO?

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2010, Domain Registrars

It was four years ago this week, August 8, 2006, when Bob Parsons unexpectedly canceled Go Daddy’s planned IPO at the eleventh hour.

But with its closest competitor, eNom parent Demand Media, ready to go public, eyes inevitably turn to Scottsdale to see if the market leader is ready to follow suit.

I’ve no doubt Go Daddy will be watching Demand’s IPO carefully, but there are some reasons to believe a me-too offering is not a short-term certainty.

Bob Parsons owns Go Daddy

First, and most importantly, Bob Parsons owns Go Daddy. At the time of the 2006 S-1, he was the company’s sole investor, and I believe that’s still the case.

Unlike Demand Media, which raised about $355 million in financing in its early days, Go Daddy doesn’t have a gang of institutional investors clamoring for a return on their investments.

The flip-side of this argument is that it does have is a loyal senior management team holding share options they’re not yet able to cash in on the public markets.

The fact that Parsons is still in charge may cause some investor nerves, given the trust hit he will have taken on Wall Street four years ago, but I don’t think that’s a massive consideration.

The IPO market is still poor

The first attempt at an IPO was canceled mainly due to poor market conditions, according to Parsons’ blog post at the time.

It had only been a few months since Vonage’s catastrophic offering, which saw early-mover investors lose millions, and there was little appetite for tech IPOs.

A lot has changed in the last four years, but the current tech IPO market is still struggling, with many companies recently under-pricing their offerings or losing value since.

According to VentureDeal stats reported at GigaOm, of the 21 tech IPOs in the first half of this year, only five were trading above their IPO price at the end of July. Most had seen double-digit declines.

While some analysts think the upcoming Skype and Demand Media IPOs could breathe life into the market, it’s far from a certainty.

Go Daddy is a cash cow

Go Daddy’s financial statements will look a lot healthier today that back in 2006.

Parsons said he yanked the IPO in part because there was too much focus on Go Daddy’s performance under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

Under GAAP, Go Daddy was a loss-making company, due to the way that revenue from domain names has to be recognized over the course of the registration while the associated costs are incurred up-front.

This meant that Go Daddy was a cash machine – with something like $95 million of deferred revenue on its balance sheet at the time of the 2006 filing – but technically unprofitable.

Whether this has changed or not, I don’t know; Go Daddy is still growing. But it’s a lot larger now than it was in 2006, and its cashflow and balance sheets will certainly look impressive even if its income statement does not.

I’m guessing a lot will depend on how Demand performs over the coming months as to whether Go Daddy follows its lead.

But Parsons said four years ago that the firm would revisit the public markets again, and I’m sure we won’t have too long to wait until it does.