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.ooo sales targets are batshit crazy

Kevin Murphy, September 23, 2014, Domain Registries

New gTLD registry and e-commerce network Infibeam, which is taking its .ooo TLD to sunrise today, has been bandying around some truly wacky registration predictions in the Indian press today.

The company’s founder told one local paper, the The Hindu’s BusinessLine, that .ooo will have volumes that dwarf .xyz and a literally impossible number of sunrise registrations.

I’m not going to link to the article itself because the BusinessLine website, probably via an embedded ad, tried to download malware onto my machine. The headline is “Infibeam to offer ‘.ooo’ for ‘.com-savvy’ netizens” if you want to Google it.

Here’s an extract, however, which quotes Infibeam founder Vishal Mehta:

The company is targeting 35,000-40,000 trademark registered companies along with several SMEs.

“The new GTLD is the first of a kind initiative by any e-commerce company. Over the next 6-12 months we expect to get about 1-2 million domain registrations under .ooo,” Mehta told BusinessLine.

This is nuts for at least two reasons.

First, Infibeam seems to be expecting 35,000 to 40,000 sunrise registrations.

That’s impossible.

The .ooo sunrise period starts today, when there’s just shy of 33,000 trademarks listed in the Trademark Clearinghouse.

A TMCH listing is of course required to buy a name at sunrise, so even if every mark in the TMCH converted to a .ooo name — which they won’t — the TLD still couldn’t hit the bottom end of its projection.

In reality, .ooo will be lucky to hit 500 sunrise registrations, just like every other gTLD this year.

Second, the only way Infibeam is going to get one to two million registered domains in six to 12 months is if the company not only gives them away for free, but actually forces them upon registrants without their consent.

The registry with the most number of registrations to date is .xyz, which has about 517,000 domains in its zone file today. It’s managed that feat in three and a half months largely by giving the names away for free to its registrars’ customers whether they want them or not.

Conceivably, Infibeam could do the same with .ooo, but that wouldn’t be especially helpful to its application commitment to make the gTLD “synonymous with trust and consumer choice”.

Indeed, its application talks exclusively about offering .ooo names to existing Infibeam customers.

Could the company leverage its BuildaBazaar e-commerce network to create quickly a substantial base of registrations?

It web site talks of a “billion dreams” and a “billion stores” and its .ooo gTLD application states: “Our goal is nothing less than providing a billion stores for a billion people.”

According to the application, Infibeam will try to persuade its BuildaBazaar customers to upgrade to a premium package that includes a .ooo domain name for their stores.

All Infibeam would need to do would be to convert 0.1% of its billion-strong BuildaBazaar customer base to .ooo domain names and it could hit one million registrations almost overnight.

That would assume that BuildaBazaar has a billion stores, of course. It doesn’t. It has 20,000 stores.

So where are the “1-2 million domain registrations” over the “next 6-12 months” going to come from?

Beats me.

I hope for Mehta’s sake that he was misquoted because otherwise I suspect he’s going to be very disappointed very quickly.

Multiple live gTLDs will be auctioned in October

Kevin Murphy, September 23, 2014, Domain Registries

Exactly 11 months after the first new gTLDs were delegated to the DNS root, DI has learned that a batch of live gTLDs are heading to auction for the first time.

There’s now officially an aftermarket for top-level domains.

“Multiple” delegated 2012-round new gTLDs will be auctioned off next month, with the exact date yet to be finalized, according to a reliable source.

The venue will be Applicant Auction, which has been helping applicants resolve gTLD contention sets via private auction for the last year.

The auction is understood to be invitation-only and the identities of the gTLDs up for grabs, and their associated registries, are a closely-guarded secret.

What conclusions we can come to will rather depend on which gTLDs are being sold.

If they’re gTLDs that are already in general availability, and perhaps have suffered worse-than-expected sales, it probably wouldn’t look very good for the new gTLD program.

But if they’re pre-launch strings belonging to portfolio applicants that have always looked like obvious investment vehicles, the optics might not be as damaging.

We’ll have to wait and see. If the auctions are successful, at some point over the next couple of months we can expect to see one or more new gTLDs change hands.

It won’t be the first time a gTLD has been bought — successful applicants from earlier rounds have been acquired by larger competitors — but it will be the first time a delegated new gTLD has been auctioned off when it’s still basically an unproven asset rather than a full-blown business.

It could be the first example of “domaining” with TLDs.

In this round, NCC Group bought .trust — an uncontested application with no ICANN contract — from Deutshe Post in February, while Rightside has acquired some TLDs from Donuts under a pre-existing deal.

Donuts snatches four new gTLDs at auction, beating Amazon to .video

Kevin Murphy, September 23, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts has emerged the victor from four new gTLD auctions this week, getting its hands on .money, .video, .sale and .legal.

Notably, Uniregistry, Minds + Machines and Amazon have withdrawn from the .video race, leaving Donuts the winner.

.video was one of the gTLDs Amazon had originally applied for as a “closed generic” that it intended to keep for itself and its affiliates. Now, it will be an open generic under Donuts.

Donuts also won .sale against Uniregistry, Dot-Sale and Famous Four.

Minds + Machines withdrew its .sale application in April 2013, before even Initial Evaluation.

Colombian applicant Primer Nivel, affiliated with My.co, withdrew its application for .legal, leaving Donuts the only remaining bidder, while Famous Four dropped out of the two-horse race for .money.

Meanwhile, dotCOOL has pulled its bid for .memorial, leaving applications from Afilias and Donuts still active. Presumably, one of these will withdraw later in the week.

As usual, winning bids have not been revealed.

Accent wins .tickets auction after $1.6m CentralNic investment

Kevin Murphy, September 22, 2014, Domain Registries

Accent Media, one of four applicants for .tickets, has won the new gTLD at auction after receiving a $1.62 million investment from CentralNic.

As part of the deal, Accent has dumped Afilias as its back-end provider and will switch to CentralNic instead.

Competing applicants Donuts, Famous Four Media, Shubert Internet and Tickets TLD are now expected to pull their applications, though none appear to have had their withdrawals accepted by ICANN yet.

It’s not clear how much .tickets sold for.

CentralNic acquired a 12% stake in Accent in exchange for its investment. Both companies are based in the UK.

The deal is believed to be unrelated to the $1.5 million investment in a gTLD applicant that CentralNic announced — with the proceeds earmarked for auction — last week.

Accent has applied for a quite restricted TLD, with anti-fraud measures at its heart. Its authenticated registration process is described as being a bit like the process of buying an SSL certificate.

CentralNic CEO Ben Crawford said in a statement:

The “.tickets” Top-Level Domain will be a compelling new tool to assist consumers to easily identify legitimate and trusted ticket sales sites, as well as empowering venues, entertainers and sports organizations to improve their use of the internet for enabling fans to purchase tickets. This investment realizes our strategy of investing in Top-Level Domain applicants as well as operating as a business partner to their operators.

Which made more money — .website, .press or .host?

Kevin Murphy, September 19, 2014, Domain Registries

Radix Registry launched its first three new gTLDs yesterday, and the first day’s numbers make an interesting case study in how difficult it can be to judge the health of a TLD.

Based on zone file numbers, .website was the clear winner. It had 6,340 names in its zone at the end of the day, compared to .host’s 778 and .press’s 801.

There’s clearly more demand for .website names right now.

But which made the most money? That’s actually a lot harder to figure out.

To make those calculations accurately, you’d need to know a) Radix’s base registry fee, b) the promotional discounts it applied for the launch c) which premium names sold and d) for how much.

None of that information is publicly available.

If we were to use Go Daddy’s base retail pricing as a proxy guide, .host was hypothetically the biggest money-spinner yesterday. At $129.99 a year, it would have made $101,132.

Because .website only costs $14.99 at Go Daddy, it would have only made $95,037, even though it sold thousands more names.

But Radix offered registrars what appears to be steep discounts for the launch. Go Daddy marked down its .host names from $129.99 to $49.99. That would make revenue of $38,892, less than half of .website.

With the discounts in mind, .host didn’t have as good a day from a cash-flow perspective as .website, but it arguably looks healthier from a long-term revenue perspective.

That’s all based on the snapshot of today’s zone files and an obviously incorrect assumption that Go Daddy sold all the names, of course.

Complicating matters further are the premium names.

Radix has priced a lot of its names with premium renewal fees and Radix business head Sandeep Ramchandani said that the company sold five five-figure premium names across all three gTLDs.

Given the relatively small amount of money we’re talking about, those five sales would have significantly impacted the three new gTLD’s relative revenue.