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Amazon staffing up for new gTLD launches

Kevin Murphy, January 30, 2015, Domain Registries

Amazon is one of the biggest portfolio applicants for new gTLDs, but to date we haven’t heard much from the e-commerce giant about how it intends to use its new assets.

That could change soon, however. The company is currently looking to bulk up its registry services staff, according to two job ads posted to DI Jobs today.

Amazon is looking for a Project Manager, Registry Services and a Sr. Software Development Manager, Registry Services to “help develop and launch innovative business models across Amazon’s new domain program.”.

Applicants will need to “see beyond DNS in its traditional function”, one of the ads intriguingly notes.

The project manager role is described as “a start-up opportunity with the backing of a larger organization”.

Amazon currently has 63 live new gTLD applications, of its original 76, 21 of which are currently in the final testing phase before delegation. Those include strings such as .buy, .read, .author and .like. Another 29 are in contracting with ICANN right now.

.CLUB sells $200,000 domain for $10.99

Kevin Murphy, January 28, 2015, Domain Registries

.CLUB Domains has honored the $10.99 registration of credit.club, a premium domain it had hoped to sell for a record-busting $200,000.

The registry this week said it would allow registrant Bruce Marler to keep hold of the domain he bought at the base registration fee, even though it was due to be sold as a premium with an asking price above the previously record price for a .club name.

Marler acquired the name January 14, the day wine.club sold for $140,000 at NamesCon, for a reported $10.99 via Name.com. He’s since launched a basic web site there, though he made his intention to sell the domain clear in an email exchange with DomainGang.

.CLUB CEO Colin Campbell told DI: “It was listed for 200,000 on StartUp.club.”

StartUp.club is the company’s recently launched site for selling premium .club domains, many for six-figure sums.

A registry screw-up seems to be to blame for the sale.

Judging by a a post on NamePros by Campbell, the company was in the process of transferring 130 premium .club names from a registry-reserved status to its own ownership.

During the 26-hour period the domain was unreserved and available, Marler grabbed it.

Campbell said that the contracts between Name.com, itself, and the registrant would allow it to reclaim the domain, but said:

The registry does not believe it is in our best interest nor the best interest of the registrant to pull the name back given the substantial investment in time and money he has invested to launch credit.club. I informed the registrant of such matters and wish him a continued success.

While domainers are obviously lauding the decision as an example of registries owning — and paying for — their technological mistakes, I can’t help but wonder whether this was an economically sound decision.

The registry has certainly won brownie points in the investor community, it’s also lost a potential $200,000 sale.

Marler, by his own admission, intends to sell on the domain. While the domain hosts content today, it may not wind up being the kind of flagship, big-ticket anchor tenant that new gTLD registries need.

UPDATE: Marler, in the comments below, says he feels morally obliged to develop the site.

New ccTLDs may have to block name collisions

Kevin Murphy, January 26, 2015, Domain Registries

ICANN is thinking about expanding its controversial policy on name collisions from new gTLDs to new ccTLDs.

The country code Names Supporting Organization has been put on notice (pdf) that ICANN’s board of directors plans to pass a resolution on the matter shortly.

The resolution would call on the ccNSO to “undertake a study to understand the implications of name collisions associated with the launch of new ccTLDs” including internationalized domain name ccTLDs, and would “recommend” that ccTLD managers implement the same risk mitigation plan as new gTLDs.

Because ICANN does not contract with ccTLDs, a recommendation and polite pressure is about as far as it can go.

Name collisions are domains in currently undelegated TLDs that nevertheless receive DNS root traffic. In some cases, that may be because the TLDs are in use on internal networks, raising the potential of data leakage or breakages if the TLDs are then delegated.

ICANN contracts require new gTLDs to block such names or wildcard their zones for 90 days after launch.

Some new gTLD registry executives have mockingly pointed to the name collisions issue whenever a new ccTLD has been delegated over the last year or so, asking why, if collisions are so important, the mitigation plan does not apply to ccTLDs.

If the intent was to persuade ICANN that the collisions management framework was unnecessary, the opposite result has been achieved.

Pop-ups boost most-popular new gTLD domains, and it’s not just .xyz any more

Kevin Murphy, January 26, 2015, Domain Registries

The .xyz and .country gTLDs are currently dominating the league table of most-popular new gTLDs, but massive pop-up advertising campaigns using junk domains can account for the majority of their leading sites.

Today, Amazon’s Alexa site popularity tool sees 2,425 new gTLD domains in its top one million. Of those, 163 are in the top 50,000 sites.

But almost two thirds of those 163 domains appear to be throwaways that receive traffic not because they’re attracting visitors, but because they’re used to serve pop-up advertising, in some cases via adware.

The trend has been visible for a few months now, restricted almost exclusively to .xyz, but over the last two weeks .country has also started to be used in this way.

That’s interesting because, unlike .xyz, .country is not a low-cost gTLD. Go Daddy currently sells it for $39.95 per year.

(UPDATE: As Andrew points out in the comments, Uniregistry is selling .country names for $1 for the first year, which almost certainly explains the .country bump.)

Almost 100 of the top 163 new gTLD domains comprise two unrelated dictionary words put together to make something nonsensical.

Domains such as iciclecellar.country, laborervolcano.country, classkitten.country, sweepstakesglove.country, rewardmen.country, installationdesk.country have recently joined have joined the likes of vasegiraffe.xyz, cactusstew.xyz, bedcrow.xyz, notebookwrist.xyz, wishgrass.xyz, pencilkite.xyz and basketriver.xyz on this list.

As far as I can tell, they’re all registered via Uniregistry and using its free Whois privacy service to mask the identities of the registrants.

Visiting these domains in your browser will either result in an error — where I suspect the site is checking the referrer before deciding whether to show a page — or will send you on a merry redirect chain that terminates in an affiliate marketing sign-up page.

Some of the domains have been discussed in online forums as serving up pop-up ads, which would account for large amounts of traffic and high popularity.

Some have alleged that they’ve seen adware serve up ads from some of these domains.

Pop-up ads may be annoying, but they’re legal and — unlike spam and malware — not usually a violation of gTLD registries’ terms of service.

Whether benefiting from adware would leave a registrant in violation of a registrar or registry’s ToS is also a fuzzy area.

But for the new gTLD industry, which is currently in a mindshare-building mode, this kind of use does not make for great optics. If internet users see new gTLDs most often in an unwanted context, it could impair their trust in the new gTLD environment.

Jeff Neuman quits Neustar for Valideus

Kevin Murphy, January 23, 2015, Domain Registries

Neustar’s top domain name guy is moving to UK new gTLD consultancy Valideus.

Jeff Neuman, who’s been with Neustar for over 15 years, will become Valideus’ senior vice president for North America, starting this coming Monday, according to Valideus managing director Nick Wood.

I don’t know who’s replacing him at Neustar, where he’s been in charge of the company’s domain name business for the last couple of years, overseeing the company’s business as a registry back-end provider and registry for New York’s .nyc new gTLD.

Neuman was previously Neustar’s longstanding VP of policy, a role which also saw him heavily involved in ICANN’s GNSO Council and Neustar’s application for and launch of .biz, back in 2000.

He’s been quite a pivotal and sometimes outspoken figure over the years.

Valideus is the new gTLD service provider sister company to Com Laude, the brand-focused registrar. It provides application consulting and ongoing registry/registrar management for dot-brand gTLD applicants and registries, Amazon among them.

I gather that Neuman will remain based in the US, as his new job title implies.