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DomainFest to hold one-day event this June

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2015, Domain Sales

DomainFest is heading to Bulgaria for a special one-day conference a little over a month from now.

NamesCon, which now owns the DomainFest brand, plans to hold the event June 3 at the Kempinski Hotel Marinela in Sofia.

It will be sandwiched between the fifth annual DomainForum — June 1-2 in Varna and Ruse — and EuroDIG — and internet governance conference June 4-5 also at the Kempinski.

The focus of the event appears to be very much on the domain investment side of the industry.

Tickets for DomainFest will be €125 ($140) on the door, but can be acquired for the early-bird price of €49 until the end of April (that is, today). Dinner costs another €40.

DomainForum, as ever, will be free to attend.

The schedule, which has not yet been finalized, can be found here. Tickets for DomainFest and DomainForum can be obtained here.

DI may attend.

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GoDaddy getting out of NASCAR, whatever that is

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2015, Domain Registrars

GoDaddy is dropping its sponsorship of a NASCAR racing car, largely because Johnny Foreigner doesn’t have a clue what NASCAR is.

The company has been sponsoring Stewart-Haas Racing and driver Danica Patrick since 2007; Patrick is a spokesperson appearing in many commercials.

But now GoDaddy says it is dropping the deal at the end of the 2015 season in order to diversify its marketing in growth markets overseas.

It is currently negotiating to keep on Patrick as a spokesperson separately.

NASCAR is a pretty US-centric pass-time, with little recognition overseas. I recall seeing Patrick’s face on a London Underground billboard a few years ago and wondering what on Earth Go Daddy was thinking.

GoDaddy chief marketing officer Phil Bienert said in a press release yesterday:

NASCAR has been a tremendous domestic platform to help us achieve an 81 percent aided brand awareness domestically, but at this stage, we need a range of marketing assets that reach a more globally-diverse set of customers.

GoDaddy said it has presence in 37 countries in 17 languages and “is positioning to fortify its presence in Asia by the end of this year.”

From 2010 to 2012, the company had an Asia-based celebrity spokesperson in actress/singer/model DI.

In related news, I’ve just noticed that GoDaddy no longer uses a space between Go and Daddy in its brand, so DI’s house style will be adjusted accordingly.

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.xyz helps CentralNic double its revenue

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2015, Domain Registries

CentralNic’s revenue almost doubled in 2014, helped by the launch of new gTLDs.

The UK-based registry today reported annual operating profit of £497,000 ($759,000), down from £694,000 ($1.05 million) in 2013, on the back of revenue up 99% at £6.06 million ($9.25 million).

Billings– money taken but not yet recorded as revenue — was up a whopping 154% at £9.89 million ($15.1 million).

Part of the reason for the growth was the launch of new gTLDs last year.

CentralNic acts as the registry back-end for eight TLDs that launched last year, including runaway volume leader .xyz, which has about 880,000 domains in its zone file today.

Another big contributor was Internet.bs, the Bahamas-based registrar that CentralNic acquired for $7.5 million last year.

The registrar had about 400,000 legacy gTLD domains under management at the end of the year, according to DI’s records.

Both new gTLDs and Internet.bs started contributing to revenue in the second half of the year.

CentralNic also said that its new “enterprise” division, which sells premium domains and offers consulting and software, was a growth factor.

CEO Ben Crawford told the markets that the new gTLD opportunity has so far been “softer” than expected.

Only a small number of retailers received their accreditations from ICANN to sell domains under the new TLDs in 2014, and a lack of public awareness pending the launches of the “superbrand TLDs” such as .google, .apple and .sony, meant that the market for new TLDs in 2014 was softer than had been projected by ICANN and other industry experts. It was essentially limited to domain investors and other early adopters.

Opinion in split in the industry on how much reliance can be put on what Crawford calls “super-brands” to do the heavy lifting when it comes to public awareness of new gTLDs.

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.hiv reserve set at $200,000, revenue so far $83,000

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2015, Domain Registries

The soon-to-be-auctioned new gTLD .hiv has a reserve price of $200,000, but the registry reckons it’s worth as much as $700,000.

That’s according to auction documents provided by dotHIV Registry to DI today.

The documents also reveal that .hiv has made a profit revenue of $83,000 in its first seven months.

UPDATE: Germany-based dotHIV says now that the reference to “net income” in its prospectus was a translation error. The $83,000 refers to revenue — the top line, not the bottom line. The company intends to update its auction documents “instantly”.

Earlier today we reported that the gTLD is to go under the hammer with Innovative Auctions on June 3/4.

We reported that the gTLD had about 2,000 registrations, but it turns out that number includes about 1,700 registry-reserved names.

The actual number, as of March 31, is 410, of which 345 pay the $179 annual registry fee. Another 63 domains were given away for free to HIV charities for a three-year period.

While this generated a net income revenue of $83,000, registry CEO Carolin Silbernagl confirmed to DI that its contract with ICANN is supposed to require “all” of its profits to be donated to HIV causes.

According to the documents:

Public Interest Commitment binds the TLD to non-profit operations. All excess profit, after the deduction of all thinkable costs and investments, is to be donated to a charitable cause of the owner’s choice.

We have founded and built the .hiv TLD as a tool for positive social impact. To safeguard this vision, the voluntary PIC in the .hiv Registry Agreement binds the owner to invest all excess profit in the projects that support the fight against AIDS.

All this comes at no risk for the registry: Operational costs are covered first. No one expects you to donate if there is no surplus. Costs include the purchase price of the TLD in this auction.

The registry’s documents affirm that the key reason to buy .hiv would be to boost your public image due to “corporate social responsibility”.

The buyer would also get free marketing support from the German ad agency thjnk and free data escrow from NCC Group until July 2017, along with a bunch of software dotHIV uses to manage the TLD.

According to dotHIV, there were 14,000 pre-registrations with registrars prior to launch. Most balked at the high registration fee and did not convert into buyers.

The registry says the new owner could capitalize on some of this interest, growing volumes, by reducing its registry fee.

There are 47 registrars accredited to sell .hiv domains, including Go Daddy.

Premium names sold so far, for between $1,500 and $5,000, include: treat.hiv, test.hiv, cure.hiv, prevent.hiv, magazin.hiv, hivanswers.hiv, prävention.hiv, prep.hiv, vorsorge.hiv.

If dotHIV makes a profit from selling the gTLD, it says it will donate it to HIV charities.

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KickAssTorrents continues world tour after latest ccTLD ban

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2015, Domain Registries

One of the most popular sites for finding copyright-infringing BitTorrent files is reportedly heading to Costa Rica after its latest choice of ccTLD banned it.

KickAssTorrents, which is about the 100th most-popular site on the web, had moved to kickasstorrents.im yesterday, but found its new domain deleted by the Isle of Man registry in a matter of hours.

The site’s owners have TorrentFreak said they now plan to move to kat.cr, in the Costa Rican ccTLD.

KAT has previously been hosted in Somalia’s .so, Tonga’s .to and the Philippines’ .ph.

Here in the UK, major ISPs are obliged to block access to the site after a court ruling.

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