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Most new gTLDs use NameSentry after Famous Four signs with Architelos

Kevin Murphy, December 18, 2014, Domain Services

Architelos yesterday announced that Famous Four Media has signed up to use its NameSentry security service across its portfolio of new gTLDs.

The company said that it now has 60% of launched new gTLDs on the platform, which gives registries a way to view potentially abusive domain names and automate remediation. That’s over 250 TLDs.

Famous Four only has five delegated gTLDs currently, but it has another 30 active applications. The bulk of NameSentry’s TLD base comes from early adopter Donuts, which has 157. Rightside, with its 33 new gTLDs, is also a customer.

Architelos said that .build, .ceo, .lat, .luxury, and .ooo have also recently signed up to the service.

Is the free ride over for Verisign’s .net?

Kevin Murphy, October 27, 2014, Domain Services

Verisign’s .net is on the rocks due to new gTLDs, executives have confirmed.

Speaking to investors and analysts on the company’s third-quarter earnings call last week, CFO George Kilguss said that .net “is experiencing some headwinds from the launch of the new gTLD program”.

Further comments from Kilguss and CEO Jim Bidzos seem to confirm what DI reported a month ago: .net is in trouble.

Latest stats collated by DI show that the .net zone file shrunk by over 121,000 domains in the seven months between March 26 and October 26 this year.

Executives said on the call that .net stood at 15.1 million names at the end of September. That compares to 15.2 million at the end of the previous quarter.

“It’s been relatively flat,” Kilguss said. “I actually think .net has held up pretty well over the year with all these new names coming on… So I don’t view .net’s performance as anything negative.”

Bidzos told analysts that “confusion” around the new gTLDs was to blame.

“I think generally, .net may be more susceptible to that confusion that swirls around new gTLDs,” he said.

He characterized .net as being like new gTLDs, falling into “that category of ‘different'”.

In my view, this is an implicit acknowledgement that .net has been getting a free ride for the last 20 years.

Asked whether the .net weakness could spill over to .com, Bidzos said that .com is a “trusted brand” because it’s almost 30 years old and has a 17-year record of uninterrupted up-time.

While there’s no doubt that .com is a trusted brand, it’s not because of its up-time or longevity, in my view — .net has the same stability record and is actually fractionally older than .com.

The reason .net is suffering now is that that for the last two decades it’s been essentially a defensive play.

People buy the .net when they buy the .com because they’ve been marketed as a bundle — the only two truly generic TLDs out there. Unlike .org, .net lost its semantic differentiation a long time ago.

As .com buyers start to see more and more options for duplicative or defensive registrations in their shopping carts, they’re going to be less likely to grab the .net to match their .com, in my opinion.

And it’s likely to get worse.

“It’s going to continue,” Bidzos said. “We’re seeing hundreds of more new gTLDs coming, and they’re coming at the rate of many every single week. So that confusion is likely to get worse.”

M+M turns profit on the back of gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, September 24, 2014, Domain Services

Minds + Machines posted an operating profit of almost £3 million ($4.9 million) for the first half of the year, almost entirely driven by the proceeds of losing new gTLD auctions.

The registry record a profit to June 30 of £2.9 million on revenue of $68,000.

The “profit on gTLD auctions” line item that permitted that seemingly impossible profit number was £7.1 million ($11.6 million), based on M+M losing eight out of 12 private auctions.

The company had £22 million ($36 million) in cash and other current assets on its balance sheet at the end of the period.

None of M+M’s big TLDs had launched in the first half, hence the low revenue. Since the half ended, .london has proven successful and several more new gTLDs wholly or partially owned by M+M have also launched.

In his statement to the market, chair Fred Krueger said:

A key variable in our financial position is the dynamic of private auctions, which we have embraced, and which has worked tremendously to our advantage. We believe that our current still contested strings represent significant assets which we have the potential to monetize either to further our existing new TLDs or to purchase additional new TLDs at auction.

He also reiterated CEO Antony Van Couvering’s call for a new metric to track gTLD registry health that is based on revenue-per-domain rather than simple volumes.

His outlook for new gTLDs was arguably less cautious than his counterpart at CentralNic, which reported its half-year numbers yesterday and talked of demand “falling short of industry expectations”.

Krueger said:

Name registration data available to-date indicates a strong opening for a variety of new products/domains, and also shows that we are still very early in the adoption curve for new TLDs. We expect that the growth of almost all new TLDs will likely follow an “S curve”, as it historically has for newly launched TLDs, rather than a straight line.

He also reconfirmed that M+M plans to aggressively pursue its new integrated registrar business as a means to drive growth in its gTLDs, rather than simply relying on the channel.

Momentum cancels dot-brand conference

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2014, Domain Services

Momentum Events has cancelled its planned new gTLD conference, which was due to take place in Amsterdam next month.

The Digital Strategy & DotOps Congress was designed primarily for potential dot-brand gTLD applicants — with free tickets on offer for eligible companies — but Momentum said there was not enough demand.

A Momentum rep tells me it was looking like fewer than 100 people were going to attend.

“[M]arket response to this event thus far has demonstrated that the use of TLDs by brands is still a developing area and at this time we are just a bit too ahead of the curve,” the company said in an email to participants. “As such and in consideration of your time, we decided to proceed with cancelling this event.”

The conference was to be held at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Amsterdam, Netherlands from September 18 to 19.

Momentum is tentatively thinking about rescheduling the show for the first quarter next year.

It’s not the first new gTLD conference to be cancelled due to the slow uptake of new gTLDs. The third .nxt conference was abandoned twice in 2012 due to lack of demand and delays in the ICANN process.

Unlike the .nxt situation, where some attendees said they did not get refunded for their event passes, Momentum tells me people who had already paid for tickets can be refunded.

They’ll also be offered access to other Momentum conferences — either the rescheduled spring conference or a more imminent brand-oriented show — as an alternative.

New domain scam? ICANN issues vague warning

Kevin Murphy, July 16, 2014, Domain Services

ICANN has warned internet users about a domain name scam that exploits the ICANN name and logo.

Not giving away much information, ICANN said in a statement:

It has been brought to ICANN’s attention that some online entities have attempted to sell fraudulent “certificates”, which they claim are required to protect generic top-level domain names. The perpetuators of this scam threaten registrants on the protection service with the objective of securing a fee from the registrant. The “certificates” look official and include an unauthorized use of the ICANN logo.

Please note that ICANN does not issue certificates to registrants and does not collect fees from registrants directly.

It’s not clear whether the scam is related to the “ICANN certificates” fraudsters sometimes demand as part of domain appraisal scams, which have been well-documented online.

The reference to a “protection service” and new gTLDs suggest this might be something new.

I asked ICANN for a sample of the scam in question yesterday but haven’t heard back yet.

UPDATE: The certificates look like this:

and this:

Track all the popular new gTLD domains on DI

Kevin Murphy, July 15, 2014, Domain Services

Want to get a full daily list of which new gTLD domains have Alexa rank?

From today DI PRO subscribers can, with our new Popular New gTLD Domains feature.

Updated once a day, the report comprises a list of new gTLD domains that are used by the top one million web sites on the internet, according to data provided by Alexa.

The report currently has 635 domains, but it’s growing.

The report can be used to discover how early adopters are using new gTLDs and which TLDs are generating the most popular web sites.

Here’s a screen shot:

DI PRO subscribers can check it out here.

Momentum offers free new gTLD show passes

Kevin Murphy, July 10, 2014, Domain Services

Momentum Events is offering brands a free pass to its upcoming Digital Strategy & DotOps Congress in Amsterdam.

The deal is only open to companies that have not already applied for a new dot-brand gTLD. Each eligible company gets one free pass for the two-day event. Additional tickets start at $299.

For applicants and others the standard price is $599 per person. That’s about half the price of previous conferences in the series, which is now in its fifth incarnation.

Previous shows have taken place in New York and London.

Confirmed speakers for Amsterdam include executives from Philips, Goodyear, Coke and Google. From the domain world, Afilias, doMEn, Donuts and Dot Luxury are due to talk.

DI, which is a nominal media sponsor of the show, may also be on a panel.

The shows were previously called the Digital Strategy & New gTLD Congress, but Momentum has switched out “New gTLD”, which perhaps caused non-domain folks’ eyes to glaze, for “DotOps”.

No, I don’t know what that means either.

The conference will take place at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Amsterdam, Netherlands from September 18 to 19.

OpenDNS raises $35 million

Kevin Murphy, May 15, 2014, Domain Services

DNS service provider OpenDNS has raised $35 million in Series C funding, doubling its total raised capital to date, according to the company.

The laundry list of participating venture capitalists comprised Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, Glynn Capital, Cisco, Evolution Equity, Lumia Capital, Mohr Davidow Ventures, and Northgate Capital.

The company offers DNS-based security services for enterprises, such as malware and phishing detection, and content filtering for schools and universities.

CEO David Ulevitch said in a blog post that OpenDNS has over 50 million daily users. Its prices range from $28 t $42 per user per year.

Architelos goes flat-rate with NameSentry pricing

Architelos has introduced flat-rate pricing for its flagship NameSentry abuse detection and mitigation service.

Now, TLD registries will be able to pay $389 a month for the Basic service and $689 for the Enterprise version, regardless of the size of their zones.

Previously, pricing ranged from $249 to $3,999 per month, depending on zone size.

NameSentry scans and collates various malware, spam and phishing URL lists in order to alert registries when domains in their TLDs are being used for different types of online abuse.

The primary difference between the Basic and Enterprise versions is the ability to automate remediation workflow.

NameSentry customers include Donuts and Rightside. Architelos reckons it has 44% of the new gTLD market using the service.

Glitch takes out ICANN’s zone file service

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2014, Domain Services

A bug which gave elevated privileges to new gTLD registries has taken out ICANN’s Centralized Zone Data Service for the best part of a day.

CZDS is the central clearinghouse for zone file data access requests. All new gTLD registries must participate. DI uses the data provided via the service to calculate registration numbers.

The service was turned off yesterday after registries noticed that they were able to view and approve pending requests made to rival registries and informed ICANN.

The site has been “currently undergoing maintenance” since at least 0200 UTC today. The bug was present from at least 2100 on Monday night, which was when I first heard about it.

ICANN tells me the move to take down the site yesterday was made out of “an abundance of caution” and that its techies are looking at the issue right now.

Talking to a few registries, it seems they were given super-user privileges.

They were able to review requests for zone file access made by users like DI to any new gTLD registry. They would have been able to approve such requests, registries tell me.

The contact information of the requesting party was also visible, they tell me.

I think in most cases this isn’t a big deal. I assume most CZDS users just blanket-request every file from every gTLD registry, but there could hypothetically be edge cases where a sensitive request was exposed.

For the avoidance of confusion, the bug would not have given anyone the ability to edit any zone files. CZDS is just a publishing clearinghouse, it has no functional role in the DNS.

Two other ICANN sites, the Global Domains Division portal and parts of MyICANN, both of which run on the Force.com platform, also currently appear to be down for maintenance, but it’s not currently clear if these issues are related.