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Most new gTLDs could be closed shops

ICANN’s new generic top-level domain program could create almost 900 closed, single-user namespaces, according to DI PRO’s preliminary analysis.

Surveying all 1,930 new gTLD applications, we’ve found that 912 – about 47% – can be classified as “single registrant” bids, in which the registry would tightly control the second level.

Single-registrant gTLDs are exempt from the Registry Code of Conduct, which obliges registries to offer their strings equally to the full ICANN-accredited registrar channel.

The applications include those for dot-brand strings that match famous trademarks, as well as attempts by applicants such as Amazon and Google to secure generic terms for their own use.

Our definition of “single registrant” includes cases where the applicant has indicated a willingness to lightly share second-level domains with its close affiliates and partners.

It also includes applications such as those for .gov-style zones in non-US jurisdictions, where domains would be available to multiple agencies under the same government umbrella.

But it does not include gTLD applications that would merely require registrants to provide credentials, be a member, or agree to certain restrictions in order to register a domain.

Since there’s been a lot of discussion this last week about whether the single-registrant model adds value to the internet, I thought I’d try to measure the likely scale of the “problem” when it comes to eventual delegation into the DNS root zone.

How many closed registries could we see?

According to the DI PRO database, of the 912 single-registrant applications, 132 are in contention sets. There are 101 contention sets with at least one such applicant.

Some are up against regular multiple-registrant applications (both open and restricted gTLDs), whilst others are only fighting it out with other single-registrant applicants.

Let’s look at a couple of hypothetical scenarios.

Scenario One – Single-Registrant Applicants Win Everything

First, let’s assume that each and every applicant passes their evaluations, does not drop out, and there are no successful objections.

Then let’s imagine that every contention set containing at least one single-registrant bidder is won by one of those single-registrant bidders.

According to my calculations, that would eliminate 31 single-registrant applications and 226 multiple-registrant applications from the pool.

Another 264 multiple-registrant gTLD applications would be eliminated in normal contention.

That would leave us with 881 single-registrant gTLDs and 528 regular gTLDs in the root.

Scenario Two – Single-Registrant Applicants Lose Everything

Again, let’s assume that everybody passes their evaluations and there are no objections or withdrawals.

But this time let’s imagine that every single-registrant applicant in a contention set with at least one multiple-registrant bidder loses. This is the opposite of our first scenario.

According to my calculations, that would eliminate 117 single-registrant applications and 140 multiple-registrant applications.

Again, normal contention would take care of another 264 multiple-registrant applications.

That would leave us with 795 single-registrant gTLDs in the root and 614 others.

In both of these scenarios, at either extreme of the possible contention outcomes, single-registrant gTLDs are in the comfortable majority of delegated gTLDs.

Of course, there’s no telling how many applications of all types will choose to withdraw, fail their evaluations, or be objected out of the game, so the numbers could change considerably.

As another disclaimer: this is all based on our preliminary analysis of the applications, subject to a margin of error and possible changes in future as we refine our categorization algorithms.

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gTLD bid reveals world’s biggest ego — Richard Li

Richard LiIs this the biggest-headed person in the world?

He’s Richard Li, chairman of Hong Kong investment group PCCW, and he’s applied to ICANN for his very own gTLD, .richardli.

According to the application, which was filed by PCCW subsidiary Pacific Century Asset Management:

An important goal of the TLD is the safeguard of the intellectual property right of our Chairman’s name Richard Li.

To Internet users and others – Richard Li is a well-known and successful businessman in Hong Kong and internationally. The .richardli domain provides a more direct way of reaching our Chairman’s information with a better user experience as they will be able to access it directly under the .richardli domain. Internet users and others will benefit from the proper use of “.richardli” domain.

According to Wikipedia, citing Forbes, Li is one of Hong Kong’s richest people, with a net worth of $1.3 billion.

As far as I can tell, he’s the only person to apply for a gTLD in his own personal name.

His personal home page,, does not appear to have been updated since June 2010.

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ICANN may renew Verisign’s .com deal this weekend

ICANN’s board of directors is set to vote on Verisign’s .com registry agreement at a meeting in Prague this Saturday.

The meeting is scheduled for June 23, the day before ICANN 44 officially kicks off. Read the agenda here.

The contract has been controversial because it will continue to allow Verisign to raise prices by 7% in four out of the six years of its duration.

Opportunistic intellectual property interests have also called for Verisign to be obliged to follow new rights protection mechanisms such as the Uniform Rapid Suspension policy.

But I’m not predicting any big changes from the draft version of the agreement that was published in March.

If and when the ICANN board approves the contract, it will be sent off to the US Department of Commerce for, I believe, another round of public comment and eventual ratification.

If Verisign is to run into any problems with renewal, it’s in Washington DC where it’s most likely to happen.

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TLDH posts six-month loss

Top Level Domain Holdings has posted a loss of $2.2 million in its latest interim financial report.

The company, which is one of the largest new gTLD applicants, saw a loss of £1.4 million ($2.2m) for the six months ended April 30, on revenue that was up from £26,000 to £136,000 ($213,000).

Given that TLDH’s game plan is to make money selling domain names in many of the 92 new gTLDs it hopes to have an interest in, its profitability runway is still dependent to a large extent on ICANN’s schedule.

The revenue in its latest period came mostly from consulting services.

On the up side, the company’s balance sheet is looking much better; it had an extra £10.7 million ($16.8m) in receivables on its books as of April 30 (which appears to be its “investment” in ICANN application fees), as well as £4.3 million ($6.7m) cash.

Its interim report can be read in PDF format here.

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Your first look inside ICANN’s new global HQ

Kevin Murphy, June 20, 2012, Gossip

After over a decade, ICANN moved its global headquarters from the LA suburb of Marina Del Rey to a new location a few miles down the road in Playa Vista this week.

Now, thanks to the magic of Facebook, I can bring you the exclusive first photograph from inside the building.

Methane Alarm

Playa Vista, it turns out, already had substantial build-ups of methane before ICANN showed up.

I can’t help but feel that the new tenants can only exacerbate things.

It’s well known to environmentalists that bovine flatus is a leading cause of atmospheric methane. I sincerely hope that Playa Vista’s ecology can handle its new influx of concentrated bullshit.

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