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ICANN not done with TAS bug analysis

Despite sending out hundreds of notifications to new gTLD applicants today, it looks rather like ICANN’s analysis of the TLD Application System bug is not yet complete.

(MAY 10 UPDATE – in a statement today, ICANN provided significantly more information about the notification process, rendering much of the speculation originally in this post moot. Read it here.)

Demand Media mum on $18m new gTLDs investment

Demand Media has invested $18 million in new generic top-level domains, but it won’t disclose whether it has spent all of the money on application fees.

The company, which owns number two domain name registrar eNom, held its first-quarter earnings conference call this evening, during which it revealed the investment.

A roughly $18 million investment could mean as many as 100 new gTLD applications, but Demand executives refused to elaborate on its plans.

CFO Charles Hilliard said that new gTLDs are seen as a “significant strategic growth opportunity” and that Demand would provide more details upon the closure of ICANN’s application window.

As Mike Berkens has already suggested tonight on TheDomains, a massive investment in application fees seems to be the most plausible use for the money.

The fact that the whole of the investment appears to have been made in April would support this view.

But CEO Richard Rosenblatt also confirmed during the call that the company has now also entered into the registry services provider business, providing the back-end for other applicants.

It does not appear to have been particularly successful attracting clients. Rosenblatt said that Demand has created a back-end platform and “signed our first two strategic customers”.

Just two clients would put Demand at the low end of the registry service provider rankings in this first new gTLD round.

I’m aware of at least one applicant that changed its mind about partnering with the company for its application.

ICANN’s background checks on new gTLD applicants include probes into, among other things, adverse cybersquatting decisions under the UDRP.

Demand Media, as a massive domain registrant, gets hit by UDRP complaints fairly regularly, and some have said it’s lost enough to be disqualified from running a registry under ICANN’s rules.

As far as I’m aware, it’s currently an open question whether hiding UDRP losses and applications behind subsidiaries will be enough to evade these background checks.

But if Demand is prepared to pump $18 million into applications, it must have a pretty good inkling that it won’t tumble at the first hurdle.

Amsterdam accepts pre-registrations for city gTLD

The City of Amsterdam has confirmed that it has joined the ranks of major international cities applying to ICANN for a new generic top-level domain.

It has commissioned local publishing company HUB Uitgevers to manage .amsterdam, along with its technical partner SIDN, the .nl ccTLD registry.

Unusually, the project has also already started accepting pre-registrations at its official site.

The ICANN application fees are being covered by the local government, but a City of Amsterdam spokesperson said it expects to make the money back from annual royalty payments from HUB.

The famously liberal tourist destination has about 1.2 million inhabitants, according to Wikipedia.

ICANN expects up to 2,305 new gTLD applications

After months of speculation, ICANN has finally revealed how many new generic top-level domain applications it expects to receive.

The lowest amount appears to be 2,091.

That’s the number of applications in the TLD Application System when it was taken offline due to the data leakage bug on April 12, ICANN said.

Another 214 applications had been registered but not yet paid for.

That’s a potential total of 2,305 applications.

ICANN has $350 million in application fees in the bank as a result.

How many of the unpaid bids convert to full applications will be key in deciding how many evaluation batches the first gTLD round will have.

Closer to 2,091, and it’s likely to be four batches. Closer to 2,305, and we may see a fifth batch.

With Initial Evaluation expected to take five months per batch, with a possible 11 months after that for the final Extended Evaluations and string contention resolution, it could be June 2015 before the first new gTLD round is completely processed.

It remains to be seen how many unique strings have been applied for, and how many applications will be successful, but with ICANN only planning to delegate 200 to 300 new gTLDs per year, the first round is likely going to last a loooong time.

Is .xxx really that crappy?

It’s not a huge secret that the new .xxx gTLD isn’t doing as well, five months after launch, as ICM Registry would have hoped, but how does it shape up against other top-level domains?

Domain Name News earlier this week published an analysis of the top one million most-trafficked web sites, according to Alexa rankings, and found that .xxx had just 61 entries.

Per DNN reporter Mike Cohen:

We would not have thought that only 61 domains in total would be ranking inside the top 1,000,000 most visited sites in the world. That number was suppose to be exponentially higher by all accounts even a few month’s in, which we now are well into 2012, however reality says otherwise.

I’m not sure what “all accounts” DNN is referring to — possibly ICM’s marketing hype — but I thought the analysis was interesting so I thought I’d try to replicate it.

This morning I parsed today’s Alexa top million sites list and came up with the following (sortable) table.

TLDDomainsMonths ActiveDomains/Months

These are quick and dirty numbers, based on Alexa data, and my code might be wonky, so please don’t place too much faith in them.

I only looked at the “new” gTLDs introduced since 2001, as well as two mass-market ccTLDs (.co and .me) introduced over the same period.

The .co numbers do not include third-level domains under and the ccTLD’s other legacy extensions.

The “Months Active” column is the number of months since the TLD was delegated into the DNS root, measured by the date of the first registry report it filed with ICANN or the IANA (re)delegation date, not the date of general availability.

The fourth column is the number of domains divided by the number of months. It’s a fairly arbitrary measure, presented merely to give you an idea of the “success” of the TLD over time.

You could possibly, loosely, think of it as “how many domains a TLD can expect to get into the Alexa 1 Million per month”.

By that measure, .xxx isn’t doing too badly.

It’s even beating .jobs and .tel in absolute terms.