Did would-be new gTLD registry services provider GMO Registry fail its ICANN technical evaluations?
The Japanese company has made a deal that will see CentralNic take over the back-end operations for all 27 of the applications it was signed up to service, it has emerged.
In a letter, provided by GMO to ICANN last week as part of its sweeping application change requests, CentralNic says:
CentralNic Ltd has entered into a contract with GMO Registry, Inc. (GMO) to provide backend gTLD registry services for their generic top-level domains.
The letter (pdf) goes on to enumerate the 10 critical technical functions — basically everything from EPP to DNSSEC to registrar management — that CentralNic will be taking over.
The letter seems to have been attached last week to change requests for each of the 27 applications for which the DI PRO database lists GMO as the back-end registry provider.
That list includes big dot-brands such as .toshiba, .sharp and .nissan, generics such as .shop and .mail, and city TLDs including .tokyo and .osaka. Even the original dot-brand, .canon, and GMO’s own .gmo are switching back-ends.
The requested changes certainly seem to explain why GMO has yet to pass any of its Initial Evaluations (as we noted on Twitter a couple weeks back) despite having prioritization numbers as low as 111.
GMO parent GMO Internet may not be widely known outside of Japan, but it’s a pretty big deal. The company had 2012 revenue of about JPY 75 billion ($730 million) and it owns a top-ten registrar, Onamae.
Per ICANN rules, the change request switching the applications to CentralNic back-ends are open for public comment for 30 days.
ICANN has released its weekly batch of new gTLD Initial Evaluation results and it includes the program’s second and third failures.
Two dot-brand applications — .olayangroup and .mckinsey, filed by Olayan Investments and McKinsey Holdings — didn’t get passing scores and are now categorized as “Eligible for Extended Evaluation”.
Both — like the only other failure to date, also filed by Olayan — passed the technical evaluation but failed on question 45, which asks the applicant to provide financial statements.
The strings that have passed IE this week are:
.dog, .pharmacy, .sener, .skydrive, .soy, .sport, .grocery, .rightathome, .scjohnson, .jll, .hosting, .americanexpress, .yamaxun, .analytics, .construction, .land, .management, .systems, .surgery, .news, .data, .reisen, .rugby, .theater, .university, .cba, .ads, .how, .chrome, .vanguard, .meo, .lotte, .hughes, .praxi, .uno, .versicherung, .blog, .bmw, .shangrila, .yandex and .bbc
There are now 341 passing applications and three failures.
Donuts has committed 63 of its 307 new gTLD applications to a private auction next month, but at least 17 of them are doomed already because rival Uniregistry won’t take part.
Donuts, which does not want to enter into joint ventures with competing gTLD applicants, has decided to use a private auction managed by Cramton Associates instead of an ICANN auction.
The first round of auctions are due to kick off June 3, but Cramton has set a deadline of next week for applicants to commit the strings they want to bid on.
Donuts has put forward these ones (note that they’re different to those reported elsewhere earlier due to a couple of typos in the original press release):
.apartments, .auction, .audio, .baseball, .boats, .cafe, .church, .college, .construction, .direct, .discount, .fish, .football, .forsale, .furniture, .fyi, .global, .gratis, .guide, .juegos, .jewelry, .legal, .living, .luxury, .phone, .photography, .plus, .red, .run, .storage, .theater, .trading, .vote, .beauty, .broadway, .city, .club, .forum, .garden, .help, .hosting, .hot, .marketing, .media, .memorial, .wedding, .chat, .online, .pizza, .sale, .salon, .school, .search, .show, .soccer, .team, .group, .site, .style, .law, .store, .blog, and .art.
Running the list through the DI PRO database, we quickly discover that 33 of these strings are in two-horse races, 13 have three applicants, nine have four and three have five.
The remaining four contention sets have six, seven, nine and 10 applicants respectively.
Uniregistry, the portfolio applicant run by domainer Frank Schilling, is involved in 17 of the contention sets, and Schilling confirmed to DI today that the company does not intend to participate.
Because all applicants in a contention set need to commit for the auction to be meaningful, we can assume that at least 17 of Donuts’ proposed auctions will not go ahead, unless Uniregistry changes its mind.
Top Level Domain Holdings has applied for 13 of the strings Donuts wants to take to auction. TLDH has also expressed concern in the past about the private auction concept.
Directi, Famous Four Media and Google are each involved in eight of the contention sets, while Amazon is involved in five.
According to Cramton, each auction will take place in bidding rounds, with the first round having a maximum bid of $50,000 multiplied by the number of applicants and subsequent rounds increasing that by 10% multiplied by the number of bidders.
If any applicant in a given auction requests privacy, then the winning amount will not be disclosed.
Portfolio gTLD applicant Donuts has hired Michele Jourdan, who until last week was head of new gTLD communications at ICANN.
She has joined the company as director of sales and marketing, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Applicants and others following the program closely will remember her from the regular update videos published by ICANN.
She worked for ICANN for almost five years, but only in the last year or so started to take a visible front seat role in interactions with community members. I understand she left ICANN a week ago.
Jourdan is not the first ICANN alum Donuts has taken on.
Its CFO is former ICANN CFO Kevin Wilson, and we recently learned that former new gTLD program manager Kurt Pritz has been recruited, non-exclusively, as a consultant.
WellPoint, a major North American health insurance provider, has dropped its application for .anthem, a proposed dot-brand gTLD.
It’s the fifth application to be withdrawn this week and the 64th to be withdrawn overall. The pull-out rate from the original 1,930 applications now stands at roughly 3.3%.
It’s also the second bid to be yanked by WellPoint. It pulled its application for .caremore in December, before even receiving an evaluation prioritization number in The Draw.
Wellpoint, which did not apply for .wellpoint, has no applications remaining in the program.
Anthem is a brand used by WellPoint to provide health insurance, mainly in California.
It’s also the original name of the company, which entered its present incarnation with the merger of WellPoint Health Networks Inc and Anthem Inc in 2004.
The gTLD was to be a straightforward .brand with a Neustar back-end. It was uncontested and had no public comments, objections or Governmental Advisory Committee to stand in its way.
It had a very low priority number, however, and was not due to receive its Initial Evaluation results until the final week of the schedule.