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WordPress.com becomes a domain name registrar

Kevin Murphy, October 19, 2010, Domain Registrars

Automattic, the company behind the WordPress.com blogging service, appears to have been granted an ICANN registrar accreditation, which would allow it to start selling domain names direct to its users.

The development seems to put a question mark next to the company’s reseller relationship with Go Daddy subsidiaries Wild West Domains and Domains By Proxy.

Currently, WordPress.com allows users to buy domain names and map them to their wordpress.com blog directly through their blog’s interface. The company charges $17 a year, with optional privacy.

It’s my understanding that the company currently acts as a Wild West Domains reseller, with the privacy protection service offered by Domains By Proxy. Both are Go Daddy companies.

Recently, WordPress.com started offering an Offsite Redirect service, enabling users to bounce visitors to example.wordpress.com to example.com after they’ve switched hosts.

Go Daddy used this as an opportunity to encourage WordPress.com users to migrate to its own hosting service in this blog post.

Automattic showed up on ICANN’s list of accredited registrars IDs yesterday, suggesting that it will not be long before it is also on the official list of accredited registrars.

Go Daddy files for business community patents

Kevin Murphy, October 14, 2010, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy has applied for three US patents covering an “Online Business Community” that looks a bit like a social network for small businesses.

The patents describe a web site that enables companies and potential customers to interact through forums, community groups and ratings systems, as well as advertising, buying and selling.

In the applications, Go Daddy says it had noticed that:

presently-existing methods of conducting online business, however, do not permit businesses and potential customers alike to interact in one place to share business-related resources; advertise, buy, and sell goods and services; interact; hold discussions; and network.

The patents, if granted, would cover such a service.

While most or all of the features outlined in the applications can be found individually in other Go Daddy products, I don’t think the company currently has a service that combines them all in the way described by the patents. Go Daddy Marketplace probably comes closest.

The applications appear to cover the creation of ad hoc business communities, for example, as well as the formation of “partnerships” between members such as suppliers and customers.

They also appear to account for communication between members using technologies such as instant messaging or voice over IP, and for members to rate each other for trustworthiness.

The three applications, 20100262686, 20100262629 and 20100262502, were filed in June and published today.

Demand Media to invest up to $75m in content

Kevin Murphy, October 12, 2010, Domain Registrars

Demand Media plans to invest between $50 million and $75 million in content in 2011, according to the company’s latest IPO filing.

The company, which owns number two registrar eNom, has also disclosed that it plans to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol DMD.

Under “Use of Proceeds” in its latest amended S-1 registration form (huge HTML file), filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Demand says:

We currently anticipate that our aggregate investments in content during the year ending December 31, 2011 will range from $50 million to $75 million.

Demand Media’s main business is the advertising it sells against the thousands of freelance articles it publishes every day. It had about $102 million in current assets on its balance sheet on June 30 this year.

Previous text talking about about using the proceeds of the IPO to “acquire or invest in complementary technologies, solutions or businesses” has been dropped.

The amended S-1 spends quite a lot of time talking about a reverse stock split that it is carrying out prior to its public offering.

4Domains customers transferred to Internet.bs

Kevin Murphy, October 7, 2010, Domain Registrars

Customers from the insolvent registrar 4Domains have had their domains transferred to Bahamas-based Internet.bs, only a few days after ICANN told 4Domains it was shutting them down.

In a notice posted last night, ICANN said that 4Domains had nominated Internet.bs as its registrar of choice for refugee customers, which likely speeded up the transaction.

ICANN’s letter telling 4Domains it was losing its accreditation, alleging multiple breaches of its contract, was sent September 30, last Thursday.

A 4Domains customer contacted me earlier this week to say she had received a renewal notice from Internet.bs (which she had never heard of) as early as Sunday, October 3.

That’s possibly the fastest turnaround between a registrar losing its accreditation and the new registrar taking over to date.

ICANN tells former 4Domains customers worried about fraud that any emails they receive from Internet.bs should link only to internet.bs or internetbs.net.

Customers should probably also be aware that their domains are now handled by a registrar subject to Bahamas law. 4Domains was US-based.

ICANN cans broke registrar

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2010, Domain Registrars

4Domains.com has lost its registrar accreditation after ICANN decided it had gone insolvent.

ICANN has alleged numerous other violations of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement, but told the registrar that its insolvency allows it terminate the accreditation with immediate effect.

ICANN’s letter to 4Domains (pdf) describes a company unable not only to pay its roughly $6,110 in due ICANN fees, but also to fund its registry accounts, service its customers and pay its staff.

From this, ICANN has concluded that the registrar is insolvent, and has terminated its accreditation.

4Domains is acting in manner that endangers the stability and operational integrity of the Internet, which is a separate grounds to support ICANN’s termination of the 4Domains RAA.

ICANN said 4Domains was also failing to escrow its registrant data, “due to an inability of the 4Domains programmer to resolve the escrow deposit issues”.

But it has this week supplied ICANN with an electronic copy of its customer database, so it appears that most registrants will be protected should their domains be transferred to another registrar.

The company has been told it may now nominate another registrar to take over its accounts in bulk.

4Domains was accredited in 2000, making it one of the first registrars to go live. According to DotAndCo.net, it has about 25,000 active registrations in five gTLDs.