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Krueger removed as chair as M+M finally starts seeing some revenue

Minds + Machines co-founder Fred Krueger has been kicked out of his job as executive chairman of the company.

The news came as the new gTLD registry reported its first full year of results as a proper, revenue-generating company.

The company reported revenue of $1.9 million for 2014, compared to $56,000 in 2013.

Its report includes a “cash revenue” line of $5 million, to show off revenues that it has deferred to future periods due to standard domain industry accounting.

For accounting purposes, M+M was profitable to the tune of $22 million for the year, but almost none of that is from actually selling domains — $33.7 million of profit came from losing new gTLD auctions.

That’s not a sustainable or predictable part of the business — nobody knows exactly when or if ICANN will launch the next round of new gTLDs — but it did help M+M grow its cash pile to $45.7 million.

That pile may grow or shrink depending on how aggressive the company is in its 11 remaining new gTLD contention set auctions.

CEO Antony Van Couvering said that M+M is also eyeing acquisition opportunities as the new gTLD industry enters an early consolidation phase.

He said that M+M’s early priorities include a focus on selling premium domains that have higher than usual annual renewal fees.

At the same time as announcing its results, the company said Krueger, who founded M+M with Van Couvering in 2009 in anticipation of the new gTLD program, has quit.

While he’s technically resigned, he left no doubt in his unusually frank resignation letter that he’s actually been forced out by the M+M board of directors.

He wrote that the decision was “initiated by the board” and that his “decision” to leave “was unexpected – for me at least”.

He added that he was “OK with it, indeed supportive of it” and that he has no intention to sell off his substantial stake in the company.

Krueger will now focus on Mozart, a web site building software maker that he’s been leading for the last couple of years. M+M has a deal to offer Mozart to its registrants.

He’s been replaced, albeit in a non-executive capacity, by Keith Teare, an existing director.

Teare is a tech veteran perhaps best known in the domain industry for launching and running RealNames, which attempted to replicate AOL Keywords for the Internet Explorer browser at the turn of the century.

Wildly popular Facebook scam attack hits .ninja

Rightside’s .ninja appears to be the victim of a broad, highly effective affiliate marketing scam that targets Indians and exploits Facebook’s trademark.

Today, 11 of the top 12 most-visited .ninja domains are linked to the same attack. Each has an Alexa ranking of under 15,000. They’re all in the top 40 new gTLD domain names by traffic, according to Alexa.

The domains are com-news.ninja, com-finance-news.ninja, com-important-finance-update.ninja, com-important-finance-news.ninja, com-important-update.ninja, com-important-news.ninja, com-important-news-update.ninja, com-finance-now.ninja, com-finance.ninja, com-news-now.ninja and com-personal-finance.ninja.

The domains do not directly infringe any trademarks and appear innocuous enough when visited — they merely redirect to the genuine facebook.com.

However, adding “facebook” at the third level leads users to pages such as this one, which contains a “work at home” scam.

Scam

Indian visitors are told that that Facebook will pay them the rupee equivalent of about $250 per day just for posting links to Facebook, under some kind of deal between Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

It’s all nonsense of course. The page is filled with faked social media quotes and borrowed stock photos.

Not only that, but it uses Facebook’s logo and look-and-feel to make it appear, vaguely, like it’s a genuine Facebook site.

The links in the page all lead to an affiliate marketing campaign that appears, right now, to be misconfigured.

Infringing trademarks at the third level in order to spoof brands is not a new tactic — it’s commonly used in phishing attacks — but this is the first time I’ve seen it deployed so successfully in the new gTLD space.

It would be tricky, maybe impossible, for Facebook to seize the domains using UDRP or have them suspended using URS, given that the second-level domains are clean.

But it seems very probable that the domains are in violation of more than one element of Rightside’s anti-abuse policy, which among other things forbids trademark infringement and impersonation.

Eurovision deploys dot-brand for ludicrous song contest

It isn’t making a song and dance about it, but the European Broadcasting Union is promoting is annual Eurovision Song Contest using its new dot-brand gTLD, .eurovision.

The default registry domain, nic.eurovision, is mirroring its regular web site — found at eurovision.tv — ahead on Friday night’s televised show.

It’s the only domain in the .eurovision zone so far; the EBU does not seem to be properly promoting the dot-brand yet.

That’s a pity for the domain industry, as Eurovision has a TV viewership measured in the hundreds of millions.

For those outside of the EBU’s 40 participating countries… Eurovision is an annual song competition contested by singers from mostly European nations, viewed in the UK largely as an excuse to have a bit of a mildly derisive giggle at our beloved neighbors’ taste in music, dress, culture, language, and so on.

Last year it was won by an Austrian drag queen with a beard. It’s like that, you understand.

The 60th annual televised Eurovision final takes place on Friday Saturday night.

Obama, Apple, cancer and Taylor Swift’s cat top lists of most searched-for .sucks domains

You’ve got to hand it to .sucks registry Vox Populi.

The pricing may be “exploitative” and “predatory”, as the intellectual property community believes, but damn if the the company doesn’t know how to generate headlines.

Vox Pop has just added a new ticker stream to its web site, fingering the 50 most sucky celebrities, politicians, companies, social ills and abstract concepts.

The lists have been compiled from “more than a million” searches for .sucks domains that Vox Pop has seen pass through its system, according to CEO and veteran PR man John Berard.

For some reason, TayloySwiftsCat.sucks is the most searched-for in the “Personalities” category.

I’m guessing this relates to a meme that has yet to reach my isolated, middle-aged, non-country-music-loving corner of the world.

Whatever the cat did to earn this ire, it’s presumably equivalent to what Barack Obama, Apple, cancer and just life generally has done to searchers on the .sucks web site.

Here are the lists of most-searched-for terms, as it stands on the .sucks web site right now.

Top Personalities:

  • 1. TaylorSwiftsCat
  • 2. JustinBeiber
  • 3. KevinSpacey
  • 4. Oprah
  • 5. KimKardashian
  • 6. KayneWest
  • 7. GuyFieri
  • 8. TomBrady
  • 9. DonaldTrump
  • 10. OneDirection

Catch Phrases:

  • 1. Life
  • 2. YourMomma
  • 3. This
  • 4. Everyone
  • 5. MyJob
  • 6. MyLife
  • 7. Reality
  • 8. YouKnowWhat
  • 9. Who
  • 10. College

Causes:

  • 1. Cancer
  • 2. Technology
  • 3. Obesity
  • 4. Racism
  • 5. Depression
  • 6. Meat
  • 7. AIDS
  • 8. Hate
  • 9. Poverty
  • 10. Government

Companies:

  • 1. Apple
  • 2. Google
  • 3. Microsoft
  • 4. Facebook
  • 5. Comcast
  • 6. Walmart
  • 7. CocaCola
  • 8. McDonalds
  • 9. Sony
  • 10. Amazon

Politicians:

  • 1. Obama
  • 2. Hillary
  • 3. TedCruz
  • 4. RandPaul
  • 5. StephenHarper
  • 6. Putin
  • 7. JebBush
  • 8. TonyAbbott
  • 9. DavidCameron
  • 10. Democrats

Make no mistake, this is a headline-generating exercise by Vox Pop.

It comes as .sucks hits 10 days left on the clock for its $1,999+-a-pop sunrise period.

The company got a shed-load of mainstream media publicity when celebrities, starting with Kevin Spacey, started registering their names in .sucks several weeks ago.

It’s looking to get more headlines now, from lazy journalists and bloggers.

This is one of the first, for which I can only apologize.

Epic new gTLD fail? Gambling site named after new gTLD but doesn’t use it

Online gambling company bwin.party owns the domain name bwin.party but, bafflingly, hasn’t even turned it on.

The company runs PartyPoker and other betting sites and is in the business news today due to a takeover bid from rival 888.

Having just heard the story reported on the TV, I went to check out its web site — this was a significant company which had apparently rebranded to a new gTLD, and I hadn’t heard of it before.

But the domain name bwin.party doesn’t resolve, even though it’s an exact — exact, down to the lower case letters and the dot — match of the company name.

bwin.party actually uses bwinparty.com and bwin.com.

The domain is registered via Com Laude, so I assume it’s a defensive play.

.party is a new gTLD managed by Famous Four Media. It currently has over 134,000 names it its zone, growing by thousands of names per day, strongly suggesting it’s being sold for next to nothing at one or more registrars.