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VeriSign drops $150,000 on ICANN Singapore

Kevin Murphy, May 23, 2011, Gossip

VeriSign, which signed up for an unprecedented $500,000 sponsorship package for ICANN’s meeting in San Francisco, has spent a rather more modest amount for the June meeting.

The company is currently listed as a Platinum Elite sponsor for the Singapore meeting, which kicks off June 19. This tier has a list price of $150,000, though I believe ICANN’s prices are negotiable.

VeriSign’s two main registry services competitors, Neustar and Afilias, had already signed up for cheaper sponsorship tiers, with lower visibility.

It would be my guess that the company waited for its rivals to show their hands before deciding to how much it needed to spend to trump them.

The Singapore meeting may see the approval of the Applicant Guidebook for the new top-level domains program.

(UPDATE: Thanks to the reader who pointed out that ICANN will almost certainly vote to approve the renewal of VeriSign’s .net contract in Singapore.)

There are 19 sponsors for Singapore so far, but currently no takers for the two available top-tier Diamond packages, which are listed at $250,000.

The amount VeriSign coughed up for San Francisco is believed to have largely contributed to the speaking fees of former US president Bill Clinton.

ICANN expects to make about $1.2 million from its three fiscal 2011 meetings, which is less than the cost of a single meeting.

Princess Kate’s brother registers domain for nude photo take-down threat

Kevin Murphy, May 6, 2011, Gossip

The brother of the newly installed Duchess of Cambridge (formerly known as Kate Middleton) reportedly posed as a lawyer in order to get his nude photos yanked from a porn site.

According to Gawker, James Middleton sent a take-down notice to its sister site, the porn blog Fleshbot, after it published some fairly tame photographs of his naked frat-boy antics.

The notice was sent via email, purportedly from “Nice Group London Legal” at nicelawyers.co.uk.

But the Whois record, as Gawker discovered, showed that the company was a phoney, and that Middleton himself was the registrant.

The creation date of the domain, April 10, suggests it was registered precisely in order to send this kind of take-down threat. Fleshbot continues to carry the photographs.

And the lesson here? I’m sure there is one. I’m just blogging it because I think it’s funny.

Slim pickings in the ICANN 40 schwag bag

Kevin Murphy, March 13, 2011, Gossip

Perhaps I checked in too early, before all the sponsors have showed up, but the schwag bag for the ICANN San Francisco meeting seems to offer surprisingly slim pickings.

Here’s what you can expect to clutter up your luggage if you’re in attendance at ICANN 40.

  • Baseball-style executive stress squeezy toy (VeriSign, .net)
  • Black polo shirt (IronDNS)
  • M&Ms-style candy (NameMedia)
  • Coffee mug (RegistryPro, .pro)
  • Badge/button (.green)
  • Mini beer-flagon-style shot glass thing (United Domains, newdomains.org)
  • Pack of tissues (.SO Registry, .so)
  • Post-it notes (VeriSign, .net)

Given the high sponsorship fees and the anticipated turn-out of 1,600 to 2,000 delegates, I was expecting much more. Perhaps some gold-plated breath mints or Armani cufflinks.

Never mind.

Still, nice to see .SO Registry pushing the boat out there. Tissues are always useful, but I was expecting at least a branded eye-patch.

I shall re-register under a fake name in a day or two to see if the quality of the schwag improves.

Clinton confirmed for ICANN’s SF meeting

Kevin Murphy, March 1, 2011, Gossip

Former US president Bill Clinton has been confirmed as the star guest speaker of ICANN’s 40th public meeting, which kicks off in San Francisco in a little under two weeks.

According to a tweet minutes ago from CEO Rod Beckstrom, Clinton will address ICANN’s Gala event, March 16 in Union Square.

This is usually an evening drinks-n-canapes event or a sit-down dinner. The SF Gala is scheduled for 7pm.

Given the central, outdoor location, I’m sure security will be tight. We could be looking at another limited-numbers, invitation-only event.

Beckstrom has previously stated that Clinton’s fee will be covered by a special sponsorship deal, but the identity of the sponsor does not appear to have been revealed yet.

DomainIncite is one year old today

Kevin Murphy, February 27, 2011, Gossip

It was one year ago today that I registered the domain name domainincite.com and made my first blog post here.

Since that day, I’ve published well over 500 articles, approved over 1,300 comments, and currently receive roughly 10,000 unique readers per month, growing all the time.

Not bad for a part-time gig, but I hope to do much better in year two.

My goal in the first year of running DI was not to reach vast numbers of readers, but to reach the right readers with timely, useful information.

Judging from the feedback I’ve received from the industry’s movers and shakers over the last several months, both in person and online, I think I have achieved that goal.

I’d like to thank you all for reading. I hope you continue to do so.

I’d also like to thank my advertisers past and present for making DI feel like less of a money-sucking time vampire and for generously indulging my psychological Chinese wall.

I’ve got some potentially cool announcements to make in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned.

My highlights from .nxt

Kevin Murphy, February 16, 2011, Gossip

The jetlag has finally worn off, and I’ve had a few days to cogitate, so I thought I’d share some of my personal highlights of the .nxt conference last week.

In no particular order, these are the things that put a smile on my face:

Kieren McCarthy’s opening speech. The analogy he drew between the introduction of new top-level domains and the building of San Francisco’s bridges was either divinely inspired or Satanically tortured. Either way, it worked. Nice bit of writing.

Meeting a genuine outsider. It’s rare I get to meet anybody at this type of meeting who’s not already familiar with ICANN and the domain market, but I did at .nxt. Dude gave me a fake name and said he’d showed up primarily to see if his competitors were there, ahead of a possible TLD bid. When I asked him what information would make his life easier, he said “help with the acronyms”. Figures.

The “Reality Check” session. I took six pages of notes, so I must have found it informative.

Juan Diego Calle’s keynote. He may not be the world’s greatest public speaker, but Calle’s speech, which talked the crowd through .co’s pretty smart marketing strategy, was good content.

John Berryhill’s panels. Everybody bangs on about how funny this guy is, but the .nxt panels he moderated really gave him a platform to exercise his wit. He’s good value, but I feel certain that if I ever let him represent me in court we’d both find ourselves banged up on contempt charges.

San Francisco. I lived there for eight years, and last week was my first time back there since 2007. Great to visit the old haunts. Beautiful weather, too, for this time of year.

Free candy. Great big bowls of the stuff were laid out after the closing session. Nice touch.

Me. Virtually everybody I met for the first time was already a DI reader, which was hugely gratifying. The notable exception was a certain ICANN staffer, who’d never heard of the site. That’s fair enough, I suppose – it’s not like I cover ICANN much.

Overall, I had a great few days at .nxt, and I look forward to the next one.

Gratuitous Go Daddy girl butt photo

Kevin Murphy, January 25, 2011, Gossip

Apologies to lady readers for the blatant sexism.

And apologies to discerning readers of both genders for shamelessly buying into Go Daddy’s propaganda machine.

But it is a very, very nice photograph.

Go Daddy Girl 2011

Any guesses who the new Go Daddy girl will be?

She’s almost certainly Latina. Probably Colombian, given the .CO Internet tie-in Go Daddy’s planning for the Super Bowl.

Shakira’s probably too expensive.

Mike Berkens reckons Sofia Vergara is a likely candidate, but I’ve no idea who she is because I’m British.

I’ve managed to rule out Heather Mills McCartney and Queen Latifah.

The Top Ten Hottest Posts of 2010

Kevin Murphy, December 29, 2010, Gossip

Tumbleweeds are blowing through the domain name industry this week, which makes it an excellent time to take a look back at 2010, in the form of a list of this blog’s most widely read posts.

In descending order, here are the top ten DomainIncite stories of 2010:

ICANN had no role in seizing torrent domains
When ICANN stood accused by the blogosphere of helping the US government shut down dozens of .com domains in November, it took the organization a full week to officially deny it. In the meantime, it kicked off a Twitter campaign encouraging people to visit this post, making it the year’s most-read by some margin.

dotFree’s “free” domain names explained
Everyone wants something for nothing, so when I provided the first interview with the chief executive of the recently launched dotFree Group in August, it gathered a lot of attention. It turned out .free domains may not be as “free” as some had hoped.

WordPress.com becomes a domain name registrar
When I spotted that WordPress.com owner Automattic had received an ICANN registrar accreditation, company CEO Matt Mullenweg was good enough to link back to this post when he subsequently announced the move to his readers in October.

First reactions to ICANN’s VI bombshell
It was the biggest shake-up in the domain name industry in a decade – ICANN announced in November that it would start letting registrars and registries own each other. The full repercussions have yet to be felt, but this post summarized some of the early reactions.

ICANN will not attend White House drugs meeting

When and how governments and law enforcement should be able to block domain names is an ongoing hot topic for the industry. This September post broke the news that ICANN would not participate in US talks about blocking “fake pharmaceuticals” web sites.

Porn group starts anti-XXX campaign
The ongoing .xxx drama continues to be one of the key domain name industry stories that plays just as well with a mainstream readership. In addition, including the keywords “xxx”, “group” and “porn” in the same headline has proven disturbingly useful for acquiring search engine traffic.

Gaming scandal hits Russian domain launch
Internationalized domain names finally arrived on the internet in 2010, and the launch of Russia’s .РФ (.rf) IDN ccTLD was easily the biggest success story. It has racked up almost 700,000 registrations in the last two months, but was hit by allegations of registrar gaming, which I reported on here.

ICANN told to ban .bank or get sued
The road to the approval of ICANN’s new gTLD program was widely anticipated to have wrapped up by the end of the year. It didn’t, but that didn’t stop some eleventh-hour special pleading by organizations such as the Financial Services Roundtable.

Whistleblower alleged shenanigans at DirectNIC
DirectNIC has had its fair share of legal troubles in 2010. First it was sued for cybersquatting by Verizon (which it denied) and then, as I reported in this December post, a former employee alleged a complex scheme to make money through fraudulent domain arbitrage (which it denied, then settled).

Survey reveals demand for .brand TLDs
A World Trademark Review survey revealed mixed reactions from trademark lawyers and corporate marketing departments to new TLDs, but it did reveal that most companies would use their “.brand” TLD, if they had one, as their primary online address.

Let’s hope 2011 brings such a diverse range of interesting topics to write about. I’m certain it will.

I’m on Facebook

Kevin Murphy, July 19, 2010, Gossip

I’ve just signed DomainIncite up for a Facebook account.

Find it here.

All welcome.

The ICANN Brussels schwag bag – full details

Kevin Murphy, June 20, 2010, Gossip

I’ve just landed at ICANN 38, in the really rather lovely setting of the Mont des Arts in Brussels.

Either I’m lost, or it’s a bit quiet at the moment, so I thought I’d get the most important news out of the way first – what’s in the schwag bag?

A heck of a lot more than the last ICANN meeting I attended, in Mar Del Plata, Argentina three five years ago.

Consider this a disclosure statement – I am now forever beholden to all of these companies, in no particular order:

  • T-shirt (Hanes) from ICANN.
  • T-shirt (Fruit of the Loom) from RegistryPro.
  • Empty Belgian chocolate bag from Iron Mountain (visit the booth for the choccie, presumably).
  • Fan with party invite printed on it from GMO (dotShop).
  • Pen from .CO Internet.
  • Keyring (foam) from dns.be.
  • Pen from Nic.ru.
  • Belgian chocolate box (full) from Centr.
  • Keyring (metal) from PIR (slogan: “PracticeSafeDNS.org”)
  • Badge/button (small) from .quebec.
  • Badge/button (huge) from ICM Registry (slogan: “Yes to .XXX”)
  • Bumper sticker from .quebec.
  • Notebook from PIR (.org “Celebrating 25 years”)
  • Playing cards (one-way backs) from Ausregistry.
  • “Multi-purpose retractable lock” from SIDN.
  • USB Flash drive (4GB) from Afnic.
  • Notebook from .eu.
  • A good-sized tree’s worth of flyers, booklets and sales pitches from the meeting’s sponsors – very strong contingent of new TLD players and consultancies.
  • The bag itself is sponsored by Afilias.

I heard a rumor that ICM was giving away .xxx vuvuzelas, but if they were they appear to have already run out.