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.net zone back above 15 million names

Kevin Murphy, February 3, 2015, Domain Registries

Is .net bouncing back after a year of declines?

The Verisign legacy gTLD has topped 15 million names again, a bit over a month after it dipped below the notable but ultimately irrelevant threshold. Today, the .net zone has 15,000,038 names in its zone file.

It had gone below 15 million on January 1, and hit a trough of 14,980,773 on January 19, but has been gaining ground — in a wobbly fashion — ever since.

Verisign executives have previously blamed “confusion” from the sudden influx of new gTLDs into the market for .net’s 2014 decline, which saw it lose a couple hundred thousand zone file domains.

On January 22 and 26, the company’s stock outlook was downgraded by financial analysts, based on the view that new gTLDs were hurting its business.

But the company has been quite aggressively marketing .net alongside big brother .com for several months. Are those efforts paying dividends?

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Amazon staffing up for new gTLD launches

Kevin Murphy, January 30, 2015, Domain Registries

Amazon is one of the biggest portfolio applicants for new gTLDs, but to date we haven’t heard much from the e-commerce giant about how it intends to use its new assets.

That could change soon, however. The company is currently looking to bulk up its registry services staff, according to two job ads posted to DI Jobs today.

Amazon is looking for a Project Manager, Registry Services and a Sr. Software Development Manager, Registry Services to “help develop and launch innovative business models across Amazon’s new domain program.”.

Applicants will need to “see beyond DNS in its traditional function”, one of the ads intriguingly notes.

The project manager role is described as “a start-up opportunity with the backing of a larger organization”.

Amazon currently has 63 live new gTLD applications, of its original 76, 21 of which are currently in the final testing phase before delegation. Those include strings such as .buy, .read, .author and .like. Another 29 are in contracting with ICANN right now.

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.CLUB sells $200,000 domain for $10.99

Kevin Murphy, January 28, 2015, Domain Registries

.CLUB Domains has honored the $10.99 registration of credit.club, a premium domain it had hoped to sell for a record-busting $200,000.

The registry this week said it would allow registrant Bruce Marler to keep hold of the domain he bought at the base registration fee, even though it was due to be sold as a premium with an asking price above the previously record price for a .club name.

Marler acquired the name January 14, the day wine.club sold for $140,000 at NamesCon, for a reported $10.99 via Name.com. He’s since launched a basic web site there, though he made his intention to sell the domain clear in an email exchange with DomainGang.

.CLUB CEO Colin Campbell told DI: “It was listed for 200,000 on StartUp.club.”

StartUp.club is the company’s recently launched site for selling premium .club domains, many for six-figure sums.

A registry screw-up seems to be to blame for the sale.

Judging by a a post on NamePros by Campbell, the company was in the process of transferring 130 premium .club names from a registry-reserved status to its own ownership.

During the 26-hour period the domain was unreserved and available, Marler grabbed it.

Campbell said that the contracts between Name.com, itself, and the registrant would allow it to reclaim the domain, but said:

The registry does not believe it is in our best interest nor the best interest of the registrant to pull the name back given the substantial investment in time and money he has invested to launch credit.club. I informed the registrant of such matters and wish him a continued success.

While domainers are obviously lauding the decision as an example of registries owning — and paying for — their technological mistakes, I can’t help but wonder whether this was an economically sound decision.

The registry has certainly won brownie points in the investor community, it’s also lost a potential $200,000 sale.

Marler, by his own admission, intends to sell on the domain. While the domain hosts content today, it may not wind up being the kind of flagship, big-ticket anchor tenant that new gTLD registries need.

UPDATE: Marler, in the comments below, says he feels morally obliged to develop the site.

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Dot Vegas sells $2m of premiums

Kevin Murphy, January 28, 2015, Domain Sales

New gTLD registry operator Dot Vegas says it has sold over $2 million worth of “premium” .vegas domain names to date.

The registry, which went to general availability in September, has also registered 1,000 additional premiums to itself in an effort to drum up more sales.

The list is available at the registry’s web site (pdf).

As you might expect, gambling and tourism related keywords feature heavily, but there are also names geared towards locals.

The names don’t appear to have buy-now prices. Rather, Dot Vegas is soliciting interested potential buyers via the reserved sites.

.vegas zone files show just over 12,000 names currently. That number will include the registry-reserved ones. According to DomainTools, Dot Vegas owns about 2,200 names across all TLDs.

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Two legit registrars held to account for lack of abuse tracking

Kevin Murphy, January 26, 2015, Domain Registrars

ICANN Compliance’s campaign against registrars that fail to respond to abuse reports continued last week, with two registrars hit with breach notices.

The registrars in question are Above.com and Astutium, neither of which one would instinctively bundle in to the “rogue registrar” category.

Both companies have been told they’ve breached section 3.18.1 of their Registrar Accreditation Agreement, which says: “Registrar shall take reasonable and prompt steps to investigate and respond appropriately to any reports of abuse.”

Specifics were not given, but it seems that people filed abuse reports with the registrars then complained to ICANN when they did not get the response they wanted. ICANN then was unable to get the registrars to show evidence that they had responded.

Both companies have until February 12 to come back into compliance or risk losing their accreditations.

Domain investor-focused Above.com had over 150,000 gTLD domains on its books at the last official count. UK-based Astutium has fewer than 5,000 (though it says the current number, presumably including ccTLD names, is 53,350).

It’s becoming increasingly clear that registrars under the 2013 RAA are going to be held to account by ICANN to the somewhat vague requirements of 3.18.1, and that logging communications with abuse reports is now a must.

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