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Nominet hires venture capitalist as new CEO

Kevin Murphy, October 29, 2014, Domain Registries

Nominet has named Lesley Cowley’s replacement as CEO as Russell Haworth, a Thomson Reuters alum who’s spent much of 2014 working as a venture capitalist.

Russell was previously managing director of Thomson Reuters’ Middle East & Africa division.

Since January, he’s been a co-founder and partner at Saya Ventures, an investment company focused on early-stage technology companies.

“Russell will lead the organisation as it develops its core registry business, explores the potential of new technologies, and delivers on its commitment to ensuring the internet is a force for good,” Nominet said.

He’s set to join the .uk registry in January 2015.

He replaces Cowley, who resigned in May and earlier this month revealed several new jobs.

Former pop star is .uk’s 10,000th cybersquatting case

Kevin Murphy, October 27, 2014, Domain Registries

Nominet has processed its 10,000th cybersquatting dispute, according to the company.

Conveniently for the .uk registry’s public relations department, the complainant in the case was Aston Merrygold, a well-known former member of the pop group JLS.

He won astonmerrygold.co.uk, which was registered to London-based Martyn O’Brien, using Nominet’s 12-year-old Dispute Resolution Service.

Merrygold does not have a trademark covering his name, but the DRS panelist found that he had rights anyway, due to his relative fame and numerous TV appearances.

O’Brien registered the name in 2008, along with the names of Merrygold’s band-mates, after JLS appeared in the final of TV talent show The X Factor.

JLS had a brief but successful pop career before breaking up last year. Merrygold currently intends to go solo, which presumably inspired the DRS complaint.

Nominet also announced today that Tony Willoughby, who has been chair of the DRS panel since 2002, has stepped aside and will be replaced by DRS appeals panelist Nick Gardner.

gTLD auctions net ICANN another $13m

Kevin Murphy, October 27, 2014, Domain Registries

ICANN has raised another $12.9 million from new gTLD auctions.

A small batch of three contention sets — .realty, .salon and .spot — were resolved last Wednesday in the third so-called “last resort” auction.

.realty went to Fegistry for $5,588,888, .salon to Donuts for $5,100,575 and .spot to Amazon for $2.2 million.

ICANN now has accumulated new gTLD auction sales totaling $27.8 million.

It raised $14.3 million selling off .buy, .tech and .vip in September. The auction for .信息 fetched $600,000 in June.

ICANN’s share — after auctioneer Power Auctions is paid off — is being put into a special fund, rather that ICANN’s current account. The community will one day have to decide what to spend it on.

Afilias set for $100m London IPO

Kevin Murphy, October 21, 2014, Domain Registries

London’s Alternative Investment Market is fast becoming the stock market of choice for new gTLD registries, with .info mainstay Afilias today announcing an upcoming IPO.

The Ireland-based company hopes to raise $100 million by selling off about 30% of the company, giving it a growth war-chest and giving its investors a shot at getting some of their money back.

Afilias earmarked part of the expected windfall for new gTLD auctions, as well as acquisitions of new gTLD “assets” and operational registries and expansion of its registrar business.

Executive chairman Jonathan Robinson said in a statement:

The Placing will bring significant benefits – by providing further capital to fund our organic and acquisitive growth plans, and raising our corporate profile with existing and new customers.

In addition to .info, .mobi and .pro, Afilias is associated with 254 new gTLD applications either as applicant or back-end provider. As registry, it already has about a dozen 2012-round gTLDs in the root.

The company’s revenue for 2013 was $77.6 million, up from $74.5 million in 2012. Earnings before deductions were $38.6 million in 2013, up from $32.1 million in 2012.

Fellow gTLD registries CentralNic and Minds + Machines are also listed on AIM.

Two-letter domains to be released in new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, October 20, 2014, Domain Registries

New gTLD registries will be able to release all two-character strings in their zones, following an ICANN decision last week.

The ICANN board of directors voted on Thursday to instruct ICANN’s executive to

develop and implement an efficient procedure for the release of two-character domains currently required to be reserved in the New gTLD Registry Agreement

The procedure will have to take into account the advice of the Governmental Advisory Committee issued at the end of last week’s ICANN 51 meeting in Los Angeles.

But that advice merely asks that governments are informed when a registry requests the release of two-character names.

All two-character strings were initially reserved due to the potential for confusion with two-letter ccTLDs.

But the GAC decided in LA that it doesn’t really have a problem with such strings being released, with some governments noting that ccTLD second-levels such as us.com and uk.com haven’t caused a problem to date.

The board’s decision is particularly good news for dot-brand applicants that may want to run domains such as uk.google or de.bmw to service specific regions where they operate.

Registries representing over 200 new gTLDs have already filed Registry Service Evaluation Process requests for the release of some two-character strings (some including ccTLD matches, some not).

It’s not yet clear how ICANN will go about removing the two-character restriction.

It may be more efficient to offer all registries a blanket amendment to the RA rather than process each RSEP request individually as it is today.

However, because the GAC has asked for notification on a case-by-case basis, ICANN may be forced to stick to the something along the lines of the existing procedure.