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.website gets 6,500 regs in first four hours

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

The new gTLD .website got over 6,500 registrations in the first four hours of general availability, according to Radix Registry.

The TLD has been characterized as the first exciting, properly generic English-language new gTLD to launch.

With that in mind, one wonders whether 6,500 is a great start.

Bear in mind that .website has commodity .com pricing ($14.99 or thereabouts retail) and that Radix offered its registrars a promotional discount for the launch — 6,500 names does not equal a lot of money.

But it’s still early days (hours), and we don’t know how many of the registered names carry premium prices.

Radix’s premium names renew annually at the premium prices, as we’ve seen previously with gTLDs from the likes of Donuts, Uniregistry and Minds + Machines.

.website went to GA at 1600 UTC today, having been delayed 24 hours by a pricing glitch.

Radix has been conducting a sweepstakes on Twitter all day to guess the number of day-one registrations in .website. The prize is a Go Pro camera.

Based on nothing more than gut instinct, I went for 9,888, thinking I was probably erring slightly on the low side.

CentralNic invests $1.5m in mystery gTLD applicant

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

Registry back-end provider CentralNic has stumped up $1.5 million to back a new gTLD applicant in a forthcoming private auction.

CentralNic CEO Ben Crawford declined to identify the beneficiary.

The company has also not disclosed what stake in the target company it will obtain if it wins the auction.

Here’s the entirety of the statement the company released to the market this afternoon:

CentralNic plc (AIM:CNIC), the internet platform business which derives revenues from the global sale of domain names, today announces that the Group intends to invest US$1.5 million in a Company which is in a contention set to acquire a new generic Top-Level Domain (“gTLD”). The funds will be placed into an escrow account, pending the resolution of the contention set, with the winning applicant expected to be resolved by a private auction within the next two weeks. The investment is contingent upon the Applicant Company successfully obtaining the rights to the gTLD by winning the auction. If the company is unsuccessful, the funds will be returned in full to CentralNic by the escrow agent.

Assuming CentralNic is investing in an existing registry services client, possible beneficiaries include Top Level Design, Fegistry, Merchant Law Group and XYZ.com.

These clients have more than 20 applications in contention right now, but not all of them could plausibly head to private auction soon.

Some have been blocked, some are in contention sets with applicants that do not participate in private auctions, and some strings have been applied for by more than one CentralNic client.

With those criteria in mind, one could possibly narrow down the target string to: .auto, .cafe, .chat, .design, .forum, .gay, .golf, .law, .news, .now, .realty, .school, .style or .sucks.

Donuts racks up 8,000 sales with three gTLD launches

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts’ sold another 8,000 domains on the first day of base-price general availability of its three latest gTLDs — .church, .guide and .life.

.church was the strongest performer of the three, with 3,409 new names registered. Its total is now 4,044.

.guide added to 2,895 to total 3,386, while .life added 1,783 to wind up at 2,106.

These are not exceptional numbers for new gTLD launches but they’re pretty much par for the course with niche TLDs nowadays.

All three gTLDs were won by Donuts at auction against other applicants over the last 12 months.

Radix delay blamed on promo pricing

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

Radix Registry’s first three new gTLD launches have been delayed for 24 hours after registrars experienced problems with promotional pricing.

.website, .host and .press will now go to general availability at 1600 UTC today.

Radix business head Sandeep Ramchandani said that some registrars were not expecting the registry to quote discounted fees at point of purchase; they were expecting a rebate at a later date instead.

This caused problems during pre-launch testing, he said, which led to the decision to delay.

The problem was resolved not too long after yesterday’s 1600 launch deadline, but it was decided to hold off on GA for a full 24 hours.

Second last-resort gTLD auction raises $14.3m

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

ICANN has raised $14.3 million auctioning off three new gTLDs — .buy, .tech and .vip.

It was the second batch of “last resort” auctions, managed by ICANN and Power Auctions, in which the winning bids are placed in a special ICANN fund.

Notably, while Google participated in all three auctions, it failed to win any, setting a reassuring precedent for any smaller applicants that are set to face the deep-pocketed giant in future auctions.

.tech was the biggest-seller, fetching $6,760,000 after nine rounds of bidding.

The winner was Dot Tech LLC, which beat Google, Minds + Machines, Donuts, NU DOT CO, and Uniregistry.

.buy went to Amazon for $4,588,888, beating Google, Donuts and Famous Four Media. The bidding lasted seven rounds.

Finally, .vip sold to Minds + Machines for $3,000,888 after Google, Donuts, I-Registry and VIP Registry dropped out.

The prices are in the same ball-park as we’ve inferred from previous, private auctions managed by Applicant Auction (a company affiliated with Power Auctions).

That’s notable because the first last resort auction, for .信息, fetched just $600,000 when it sold to Amazon back in June.

As far as we can tell, last-resort auctions do not necessarily keep prices low, even though the losing bidders in this week’s auctions will have walked away empty-handed.

In private auctions, losers leave holding a share of the winner’s bid.

This week, most of the $14.3 million raised will go into a special ICANN fund.

Akram Atallah, president of ICANN’s Global Domains Division said in a statement:

The proceeds from these Auctions will be separated and reserved until the Board determines a plan for the appropriate use of the funds through consultation with the community. We continue to encourage parties to reach agreements amongst themselves to resolve contention.

The ICANN community has been chatting about possible uses for auction funds for years.

Ideas such as subsidizing new gTLD applicants from poorer nations in future rounds and investing in internet infrastructure in the developing world have been floated.