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Millions spent on new gTLDs as 11 auctions settled

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2014, Domain Registries

New gTLD portfolio applicants settled at least 11 new gTLD contention sets last week, sharing the spoils of a private auction that looks to have totaled seven figures in sales.

Applicant Auction carried out auctions for 13 contested strings last week, which I believe lasted at least three days.

I’ve been able to determine that Donuts won six sets, Uniregistry won three and Minds + Machines won two. Radix seems to have lost at least five auctions, walking away with a great big pile of cash instead.

.hosting — Uniregistry won after Radix (which owns .host) withdrew.

.click — Uniregistry beat Radix.

.property — Uniregistry won after withdrawals from M+M and Donuts.

.yoga — M+M won, beating Donuts and Uniregistry.

.garden — M+M beat Donuts and Uniregistry again.

.娱乐 — Donuts won this string (Chinese for “.entertainment”) after Morden Media withdrew.

.deals — Donuts beat M+M and Radix.

.city — Donuts beat TLD Registry and Radix.

.forsale — Donuts beat DERForsale.

.world — Donuts beat Radix.

.band — Donuts beat What Box?

Minds + Machines disclosed this morning that the four auctions in which it was involved cost it $5.97 million.

It’s not possible to work out how much .garden and .yoga cost the company; the $5.97 million figure is net of the money it won by losing .property and .deals, ICANN refunds and auctioneer commissions.

However, it seems reasonable to assume that the average price of a gTLD, even not particularly attractive ones (.garden? Really?), has sharply risen from the $1.33 million I calculated from the first 14 auctions.

In January, M+M raised roughly $33.6 million for auctions with a private share placement. The company is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market.

The company said it now has an interest in 28 uncontested applications.

Also today, the Canadian Real Estate Association withdrew its Community application for .mls, but this is not believed to be related to the auctions. It has a non-Community application for the same string remaining.

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101domain shifts blame to Google as premium buyers offered 50% discount

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2014, Domain Registrars

101domain has offered a 50% discount to customers that were sold premium new gTLD domains for a vastly reduced price, and has tried to shift some of the blame to the registry, Google.

The offer was made in a letter (pdf) to affected registrants — previously hit with delayed invoices for thousands of dollars for domains they bought for $12.99 — sent yesterday.

It indicates that the registrar is prepared to eat at least part of its pricing error on both first-year registrations and subsequent annual renewals.

101domain told customers:

  • You now have until June 23, 2014 to make a decision whether to delete the name or pay for the premium name.
  • If you want to keep the name(s), 101domain will offer you a 50% discount on the first year premium price and a 25% discount on premium annual renewals.
  • If you give up your name(s), we will give you a credit on 101domain.com for any future purchases equal to 25% of the price of the premium name.

Previously, affected registrants had been told to pay up or have their domains deleted the following day.

As we reported last week, almost 50 domains in Google’s .みんな (“.everyone”) were sold for $12.99, despite some being earmarked by the registry as “premiums” with annual fees of up to $7,000.

In its letter to customers yesterday, 101domain characterized Google’s system for handling premiums as non-standard and difficult for registrars to work with.

Google’s list of premium names was circulated to registrars via an email, and the registry had no EPP commands for checking out whether a name was premium in real-time, the registrar says.

There was also no way for registrars to prevent the registration of premiums and no way to check with the registry for premium sales, it added.

It seems clear from the letter that the discounts now on offer mean that if registrants choose to keep their names they’ll be getting them at less than the registry fee — 101domain will eat the difference.

We contacted Google and requested them to work with us on the matter since we felt strongly that both sides were responsible to right the situation. Google offered no assistance other than extending the date to delete the names — telling us it was our problem.

Despite this seemingly generous response to domainer outrage, at the least one affected customer is not impressed.

In an email to DI last night the original registrant that first alerted us to the pricing problem described the latest 101domain offer as “lame”.

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Oops! TLD Registry over-reports first-day figures

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2014, Domain Registries

TLD Registry’s first hours of Chinese IDN gTLD registrations were not as big as previously reported.

We reported earlier today that .在线 (“.online”) and .中文网 (“.chinesewebsite”) had made it to 54,011 names and 38,838 names respectively, just one hour after the 1300 UTC general availability.

However, a few hours later the company told us it had accidentally included thousands of registry-reserved names in those totals.

The actual numbers are 33,012 for .在线 and 17,537 for .中文网, as of 1900 UTC.

These are still extremely impressive numbers, and .在线 is still the biggest launch to date, surpassing the 31,645 with which .berlin ended its first day of GA a month ago.

That gTLD is likely to end the day in third or fourth place in the new gTLD league table, depending on how .photography (with 33,489 names this morning) performed today.

.guru’s crown remains.

Both sets of new numbers include sunrise, landrush and up to 10,000 names registered to the Chinese government under a special pre-release deal the registry negotiated, but they do not include reserved names.

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Chinese “.online” beats .guru in one hour

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2014, Domain Registries

The Chinese new gTLD .在线, which means “.online” has become the biggest new gTLD launch to date, taking tens of thousands of registrations in its first hour of general availability.

According to TLD Registry, which took .在线 and .中文网 (“.chinesewebsite”) to GA at 1300 UTC today, .在线 had 54,011 names and .中文网 had 38,838 names just one hour later.

UPDATE: These numbers were wrong.

That immediately puts .在线 at the top of the new gTLD leaderboard, a clear 1,500 names ahead of Donuts’ .guru (52,428 as of 0100 UTC), which has topped the chart for the last few months.

It took .guru, which launched January 29, 78 days to hit 50,000 names.

With its 38,838 names, .中文网 takes the number four position behind .guru and .berlin.

“As of the last minute before GA, the total number of domains in Dot Chinese Online (.在线) totalled 9,803, and the total number of domains in Dot Chinese Website (.中文网) totalled 8,623,” TLD Registry marketing director Simon Cousins told DI, citing numbers provided by back-end provider Afilias.

The company had allocated 20,452 names, split evenly between the two TLDs, to the Chinese government.

It also auctioned off several dozen names with Sedo at an event in Macau last month.

One of these, a real estate site at 房地产.在线, which means “realestate.online” has already gone live.

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Microsoft dumps .live gTLD bid

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2014, Domain Registries

Microsoft has abandoned its application for the .live new gTLD, leaving the erstwhile dot-brand in the hands of either Donuts or Google.

I found this quite surprising initially, as “Live” has been a core, cross-platform brand for the company, covering services such as Windows Live, Xbox Live and Office Live. The company also owns live.com.

But it recent years the brand has started to be phased out.

While Xbox Live is still a thing, Windows Live was closed down in April 2013 and Office Live seems to have suffered a similar fate in 2012, after the new gTLD application phase ended.

The withdrawal means that the .live contention set now only comprises Google’s Charleston Road Registry and a Donuts subsidiary. It’s likely headed to ICANN auction.

Unlike Microsoft, both remaining applicants propose open-registration spaces.

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