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Right Of The Dot partners with Heritage for hybrid auctions

Kevin Murphy, January 15, 2014, Domain Services

Domain sales consultancy Right Of The Dot and collectibles auctioneer Heritage Auctions have made a deal to bring hybrid live/online auctions to the new gTLD space.

According to a ROTD press release, such services will be made available for new gTLD contention set resolution and premium second-level domain sales.

Heritage is pretty new to the domain name space, but its IP division is headed by Aron Meystedt, current owner of symbolics.com, the world’s oldest .com domain.

TLDH opens up list of 70,000 premium names for all new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2014, Domain Services

Top Level Domain Holdings has ramped up its new gTLD pre-registration effort with a new database service that enables registries to automatically collate and price their premium names.

The new OpenDB.co service builds on the Online Priority Enhanced Names system we reported on during the ICANN meeting in Buenos Aires a couple months ago.

TLDH chairman Fred Krueger told DI today that new gTLD registry operators will be able to automatically generate a list of up to 70,000 premium names — with associated prices — for their TLD(s).

It works using a proprietary taxonomy of strings in 500 categories, put together by about 30 people working for TLDH, and baseline .com pricing estimates calculated by various online tools such as Estibot.

If you’re the registry for .web, for example, you might decide that all premium .web domains are worth 50% of the .com price, and you could create your premium names list accordingly with just a few clicks.

But if you’re the registry for a narrower, niche gTLD, you might want to assign values by category, subcategory or individual name.

If you’re .poker, you might decide that names in the OpenDB “gambling” category are worth 300% of .com, due to the affinity between the TLD and the second level, and that “sports” names are worth 50%, but everything else is worth just 1% of the corresponding .com name.

A possible drawback of the system might be that the algorithmic .com price estimates underlying it are just that — estimates, based on factors such as Google search volume and Adwords cost-per-click.

Online tools that do this kind of price estimation are quite often criticized or mocked for under- or over-pricing names in existing TLDs.

Another drawback might be that while 70,000 is certainly a lot of strings, it might not dive deeply enough into the potential premium pool for very niche gTLDs.

If the service catches on, I expect it will wind up competing with consultancies that offer expertise-based pricing, such as Right Of The Dot, and brokerage platforms such as Sedo.

So far only PeopleBrowsr (.ceo, .best) has openly committed to use the system.

TLDH says that it will start offering any names in OpenDB via its affiliated Minds + Machines registrar, with a 20% markup.

There’s also an OpenDB API that registrars can use to add these premium names to their own storefronts, Krueger said.

TLDH to invest in rival new gTLD names

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2014, Domain Services

Top Level Domain Holdings is to launch a new company, backed with a $2 million starting pot, devoted to investing in second-level names in rival registries’ new gTLDs.

TLDH chairman Fred Krueger told us today that the new company, which will be found at SecondLevel.co, will start buying up attractive names as soon as new gTLDs start going into general availability.

The move is one of several announcements TLDH is making — focusing on the registry, registrar and buyer levels — at the NamesCon conference here in Las Vegas this week.

SecondLevel.co will take money from institutional investors, buy up new gTLD second-levels, and return 70% of the profits to its investors on a quarterly basis if and when the names are flipped, Krueger said.

There are no plans to monetize the names in other ways yet, Krueger said. He doesn’t think new gTLD domains are going to get enough type-in traffic to exploit, for example.

It sounds like there’s going to be a bit of bargain-hunting going on here.

Other new gTLD registries have of course already slapped premium pricing, and in many cases premium renewal fees, on the names they consider most attractive.

When TLDH buys up such a name it will effectively be saying that it reckons its competitor undervalued the name.

That said, rivals such as Donuts have claimed that they’ve priced their premium names at levels that will still allow flippers to make a profit, so maybe there’s an opportunity here.

NamesCon will be biggest new gTLD show yet

Kevin Murphy, January 8, 2014, Domain Services

The inaugural NamesCon new gTLDs conference, set to run for three days in Las Vegas next week, has attracted roughly 525 registrations, making it the largest such event to date.

Organizers are speculating that the final tally of attendees could pass 600, despite the fact that early bird pricing ended last night and tickets went up $200 to $599.

All of the previous new gTLD conferences I’m aware of — .nxt, gTLD World Congress, newdomains.org and a handful of smaller ones — have struggled to get half that number of delegates.

I suspect that the relatively low cost of tickets, hotel rooms and flights will have something to do with the relatively high participation for an as-yet unproven event.

According to organizers, there are about 100 speakers/panelists and 30 sessions over the two full days of the conference.

With just 45 minutes scheduled for most sessions, and five speakers on many of the panels, moderators will have their work cut out making sure discussions are balanced yet focused.

I will be on two panels, “Meet the industry Press” and “Important Tools of the Industry”, both of which are on Wednesday afternoon.

Donuts picks young British firm for Sunrise disputes

Kevin Murphy, January 6, 2014, Domain Services

A newish UK company managed by some old internet policy hands has been appointed by Donuts to handle disputes arising from its Sunrise and Domain Protected Marks List policies.

Oxford-based Synetergy, which says it worked with Interconnect Comunications on new gTLD evaluations, is managed by Emily Taylor (formerly of Nominet) and Tony Holmes (formerly of BT).

The company will handle Donuts’ Sunrise and DPML Dispute Resolution Policy, which ICANN published (pdf) today.

The policy comes into play whenever somebody suspects that a Sunrise registration or DPML block in a Donuts gTLD was made based on a bogus trademark submission.

The price of filing a complaint under the process is £250 for up to five names registered to the same registrant.

Taylor said that IP experts from Sipara will handle the substantive evaluations, with Synetergy administering the process.

United TLD, the Demand Media/Rightside new gTLD applicant subsidiary, is also using Synetergy for its dispute resolution services, Taylor said.