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First IDN gTLD auction raises $181,000

Kevin Murphy, March 21, 2014, Domain Sales

TLD Registry today raised over $181,000 in “premium” Chinese IDN domain names.

A live/online auction coordinated by Sedo and held at the China Rouge members’ club here in Macau saw 39 lots go under the hammer, 33 of which managed to raise at least the $2,000 minimum bid.

All the names were in .在线 (“.online”), of two Chinese IDN gTLDs TLD Registry launched this week.

Each lot contained multiple names.

In all cases the ASCII transliteration, or Pinyin, was thrown in. Some lots also contained conceptually related names. So the winner of “casino”.在线 also won “gambling”.在线.

Buyers will presumably be able to split the bundles for resale.

The lot with the highest bid at the end of the day was a collection of domains related to “gaming”, which sold for $25,388. Second was a “casino” bundle, which fetched $25,000

.CLUB Domains CEO Colin Campbell spent $7,100 on “club”.在线 and related terms.

Here’s the full list of auction results. Apologies to my Chinese readers, but I don’t have a Chinese keyboard nor a source document to copy and paste the actual names that were sold.

LotWinning Bid (USD)
TOTAL$181,714
make money2500
Go (the game)2000
pay2250
dinner2000
tall, handsome and rich2100
club7100
cosmetics2200
bitcoin14388
casino25000
go to Hong Kong2000
bookkeeping2000
watch TV2000
reunion0
United Kingdom2550
personal homepage0
domain investing2500
discount4100
buy and sell3100
study English2250
maintaining your health2000
I love you2000
babysitting0
I want to eat2000
diet network2000
furniture2800
real estate16000
hot/popular2000
new cars2000
learn about wine0
luxury watches6400
travel and weather0
sell5588
hot search terms2400
loans7500
delivery information0
rent15500
financing2000
gaming25388
trademark6100

DISCLOSURE: I attended most of the auction and moderated a panel discussion during the lunch break. TLD Registry paid for my airfare and accommodation.

ROTD conducts first new gTLD auction as One.com wins .one

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Sales

Danish registrar One.com has won the .one contention set in the first private auction carried out by new gTLD consultancy Right Of The Dot.

One.com beat Radix, the United Arab Emirates-based portfolio applicant, to the string. Radix withdrew its application last week. The price has not been disclosed.

ROTD, Mike Berkens and Monte Cahn-managed company, has been competing with Applicant Auction for contention set resolution services and this is its first win.

The .one auction was carried out using a “single sealed bid second price” methodology, in which all participants privately submit a single bid and the winner pays the second-highest losing bid.

In this case, One.com will have paid Radix whatever bid Radix had put forward, with ROTD and escrow partner Escrow.com taking their fees from the winning bid.

Applicant Auction uses an “ascending clock” method, where bids are set in increments by the auctioneer over the space of several rounds, with bidders choosing to stay in or drop out in each round.

Cahn said in a press release: “Our Single Sealed Bid Second Price auction method protects the participants from ‘auction fever,’ which often causes over-bidding as people get emotionally tied to the process of winning at any cost due to time committed and sometimes throw their budgets out the window.”

Meet the first new gTLD domainer

Kevin Murphy, February 4, 2014, Domain Sales

Gary Schultheis has bought hundreds of new gTLD domain names already and plans to buy thousands more this year.

Gary SchultheisThe former venture capitalist doesn’t consider himself a domainer, but analysis of Whois records and zone files over the weekend shows he very likely spent more than anyone on Donuts’ seven newly launched gTLDs.

At one point he owned about 10% of the .guru zone.

Schultheis’ new company, ii.org, is betting big — and long-term — on being able to sell from a large a portfolio of new gTLD names, he told DI today.

Right now, his investments are concentrated on .guru, where he says he’s picked up “hundreds” of names already.

DI research shows ii.org spent roughly $30,000 on a couple dozen generic .guru names in a single day last week, including exercise.guru, medical.guru, socialmedia.guru and divorce.guru.

“We’re not from the domain industry,” Schultheis said. “Folks I’m working with are either from the financial industry or the data industry. We’re looking at this from a smart, data-driven, black-box methodology.”

Most recently, Schultheis was president of TLO.com, a company that provided background research and risk management data services. He says that’s informed his strategy with ii.org.

“I like to take vast amounts of data and make decisions based on actual data, rather than speculation and guesses,” he said. “We may buy one-offs based on news-driven events but we try not to act emotionally.”

He’d rather not talk about the specifics of the company’s algorithms, but said they were tested out to create a portfolio of .com names, with mixed results.

Flipping some of these .com names will provide operating revenue, he said, adding that he has access to potentially millions of dollars in funding due to his previous work.

“If we have some .com’s that are industry or location specific, we have enough confidence we can sell those easily for cash flow,” he said.

“Our strategy is not to buy a million dollar domain and try to sell it for two million dollars, we’re going to buy things that will turn quick or have the potential for a massive multiple in future.”

But revenue from new gTLD sales may not come for years, he said.

“We have a five-to-ten year window on these and don’t care if we don’t sell any of these for years,” he said.

With that in mind, part of the risk of investing in “premium” strings with Donuts — which has earmarked many generic words for higher renewal pricing — is the high carrying cost.

“Click traffic is not going cover the renewal costs of these name,” Schultheis said. “gun.guru is going to cost me $400 a year to carry.”

Schultheis said as a venture capitalist in the 1990s he became aware of .com names and started buying up his own. That became International Internet Inc, which was publicly listed in the late 1990s.

Schultheis said the company (from which ii.org gets its name) was worth a billion dollars at one point, though it seems to have gone out of business around the same time as the .com bubble burst.

Now, he reckons new gTLD names will start to acquire Google juice before long.

“We own computer.guru,” he said. “If you type in ‘computer’ into Google now I believe .com’s will outrank it, but I believe over time that with the Google algorithm becoming more specific when you type in ‘computer’ as it relates to an expert it’s possible we could be as strong as .com.”

Of the seven ASCII gTLDS currently on the open market, .guru is the only one ii.org has touched. Schultheis said. In future, he intends to concentrate on where he feels the big-money buyers are.

“We’re very interested in some of the city names,” he said. “But ones like .sexy and .ninja are more for a college-age person, and I don’t feel that the audience there will show the return we’re looking for.”

By contrast .guru speaks to executive types and companies with money to spend, he said.

Without naming names, he said some other gTLDs confuse him.

“With some of these TLDs we really scratch our head and say ‘What were they thinking?'” he said. “There are dozens of these things where I don’t know how they’re going to pay the bills.”

As for ii.org’s outlook, Schultheis said its portfolio is going to be a mix of assets that he thinks could be sold quick and others that are long-term plays.

“We know we’re early. Everyone wishes they could go back to early 90s and buy up all the .coms they could,” he said. “But I also own some .mobi’s so I know you can also be wrong.”

NameJet to auction new gTLD domains before they launch

Kevin Murphy, November 8, 2013, Domain Sales

Many registrars are already offering new gTLD pre-registrations, now NameJet has taken the idea one step further: it’s going to auction premium names months before the gTLDs even go live.

It’s just announced a deal with XYZ.com, which is on track to run the .xyz and .college registries, to sell 40 “premium” domain names this month. In fact, according to its press relase, the first auction started on Wednesday.

These two new gTLDs are uncontested but do not yet have Registry Agreements with ICANN, and have not passed pre-delegation testing or any of the other pre-launch prerequisites.

The companies said they due to go live next year.

Some of the domains to be auctioned include: loans.college, scholarships.college, vacations.xyz, insurancequotes.xyz, students.college, jobs.college, auctions.xyz and health.xyz.

NameJet said it expects the auctions to be wrapped up by the end of February.

Second private auction nets $1.2m per gTLD

Kevin Murphy, August 16, 2013, Domain Sales

Only eight new gTLD contention sets were resolved during Innovative Auctions second round of private auctions this week, and the average winning bid has gone down.

The eight strings sold for a combine $9,651,000, or an average of $1.2 million per string. That’s down from the $1.5 million average reported from the first round of auctions in June.

The overall average winning bid from Innovative’s auctions is now $1.33 million.

Over 100 gTLDs had been committed to the second round by various applicants — which put up 68 strings and wound up winning three — but the auctions can obviously only go ahead if the whole contention set agrees to participate.

According to Innovative, these are the winners this week:

  • .guide: Donuts
  • .construction: Donuts
  • .storage: Extra Space Storage (applying as Self Storage LLC)
  • .desi: Desi Networks
  • .expert: Donuts
  • .fishing: Top Level Domain Holdings
  • .casa: Top Level Domain Holdings
  • .网址 (.wangzhi): Hu Yi Global

These were all two-applicant contention sets (Go Daddy had originally applied for .casa, but withdrew its application months ago).

Losing applicants — which get to take home the winning’s bidder’s cash, net Innovative’s fees — were Demand Media, Afilias, Dot Construction, and Red Circle.

The DI PRO Application Tracker will be updated daily as and when the losing applications are withdrawn. So far, only Donuts’ bid for .casa has had its withdrawal processed by ICANN.

Innovative seemed to blame the low turnout on the August holiday period, and said it has scheduled its third round of auctions for September 10.