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TLDH has the end in sight, but no revenue

Kevin Murphy, September 30, 2013, Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings made less than $12,000 in the first half of the year, but says its new gTLD business may start generating revenue in the fourth quarter.

In its interim financial results, published this morning, the company also revealed that it plans to launch its own domain name registrar and, via a partnership, web site building tools.

Revenue for the six months to June 30, which was almost all due to monetization of its second-level domains portfolio, was £7,000 ($11,295), compared to £346,000 ($558,000) a year earlier.

TLDH’s loss for the period grew to £1.8 million ($2.9 million) from £1.5 million ($2.4 million).

But in a lengthy statement chairman Fred Krueger assured investors that he is “confident” that the long process of getting TLDH’s applied-for gTLDs to market is drawing to a close.

Looking forward, I am confident that ICANN will broadly continue to sign contracts in line with the timelines we announced in July 2013, allowing .LONDON potentially to begin its launch and initial marketing as early as the first half of 2014. Given the recent signing of contract between .KIWI and ICANN, we may see our first revenues as a back-end registry operator as early as Q4 2013, and revenue from the sale of domain names from our first wholly-owned new gTLD by Q1 2014.

The company currently has interests in 25 uncontested gTLDs and has applied for 48 more, according to Krueger.

With more private and ICANN new gTLD auctions coming soon, TLDH has cash on hand of £7.4 million ($12 million).

Given the average selling price of a new gTLD is currently $1.3 million, there’s seems to be little chance of TLDH securing its entire portfolio of applied-for strings without additional funding.

Losing private auctions could be a way to generate cash to win more than the nine auctions that its $12 million implies, however.

Krueger also revealed TLDH’s revenue plans beyond its Minds + Machines registry services business.

As we enter into this final phase, we are pursuing other potential revenue-producing ventures by developing our own registrar, and, in cooperation with the website-building company Needly, providing a clean path for users to get a complete online solution – a web presence and email, as well as a domain name.

Krueger is also CEO of Needly, which makes a web content management platform.

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Name Collisions: Unanticipated Effects [Guest Post]

Kurt Pritz, September 30, 2013, Domain Policy

I attended the TLD Security Forum sponsored by Artemis in San Francisco five weeks ago. By happenstance, I became involved in a small group formed after the meeting that dedicated themselves to replicating the Interisle study (“Name Collisions in the DNS”) and carrying on with the next step in the analysis.

The work among competitors that occurred over the next four weeks was collaborative, intensive, and competent: an excellent example of how the multi-stakeholder model can accomplish significant work and publish it to the broad internet community in an effort to resolve an issue. It brought the right people together to accomplish more, faster than any other governance model would achieve.

Their work is easily identifiable among the many comments submitted on the name collision issue. Without offering an opinion on conclusions here, I note that the competence of work shines through and should be carefully considered.

The Interisle study sounded an alarm because it reported a potentially high number of domain name “collisions” that might result from the delegation of new gTLDs. The term “collision” is somewhat of a misnomer and the key issue, I think, is the use of search-list processing by companies in configuring their networks.

The Interisle report published the volumes of NX Domain responses by TLD and described possible harms but did not link harms to specific types of queries nor delve into the data in order to draw firm conclusions or propose mitigations.

There is nothing wrong with this –- the report was competently executed given the time available.

This is where several interested parties, mostly applicants, jumped in. In an impromptu meeting after the conference a half-dozen companies coordinated: the purchase of servers to analyze previously collected root-zone data (the “Day In The Life” or DITL data); acquisition of memberships in OARC, to whom the servers were donated; and the analysis of vast amounts of data.

Considerable time was spent redesigning queries in order to replicate the Interisle results from the DITL data so that the next step in the analysis would be seamless as the work transitioned from Interisle to this collaborative group.

Hypotheses were developed, queries written, data summarized and statistically tested. Every difference between the Interisle data and the newly analyzed data was discussed until the team was satisfied it would withstand public scrutiny.

The team met twice weekly in conference calls and traded numerous emails to flesh out technical details. Data scientists learned about the DNS, DNS experts learned about z-tests and the effects of non-standard distributions.

The team agreed to publish the data, which it has, so that anyone could perform analysis similar to that done by this team.

For me, these technical discussions brought to mind the reaffirmation of the effectiveness of the ICANN model that occurred as a result of this issue. Work continues and will be discussed at the next TLD Security Conference on October 1st in Washington, DC.

This is a guest post written by Kurt Pritz, ICANN’s former chief strategy officer. He is currently an independent consultant working with new gTLD applicants and others.

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Crocker to speak at second gTLD collisions summit

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2013, Domain Tech

ICANN chair Steve Crocker is among a packed line-up of speakers for an event on Tuesday that will address the potential security risks of name collisions in the new gTLD program.

It’s the second TLD Security Forum, which are organized by new gTLD applicants unhappy with ICANN’s proposal to delay hundreds of “uncalculated risk” applied-for gTLDs.

The first event, held in August, was notable for statements playing down the risk from the likes of Google and Digicert.

While Crocker is scheduled to speak on Tuesday, anyone expecting insight into the ICANN board’s thinking on name collisions is likely to be disappointed.

The title of his talk is “The Current State of DNSSEC Deployment”, which isn’t directly relevant to the issue.

Crocker, due to conflicts of interest protections, is also not a member of ICANN’s New gTLD Program Committee, which is tasked with making decisions about the collision problem.

While Crocker’s views may wind up remaining private, we can’t say the same for Amy Mushahwar and Dan Jaffe, representing the Association of National Advertisers, both of whom are also speaking.

The ANA is firmly in the Verisign camp on this issue, claiming that gTLD name collisions create unacceptable security risks for organizations on the internet.

Also on the line-up for Tuesday are Laureen Kapin of the US Federal Trade Commission and Gabriel Rottman of the American Civil Liberties Union, both of whom could bring new perspectives to the debate.

The TLD Security Forum begins at 9am at the Washington Hilton and Heights Meeting Center in Washington, DC. It’s free to attend and will be webcast for those unable to show up in person.

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Samsung signs the first dot-brand gTLD contract

Kevin Murphy, September 28, 2013, Domain Registries

Samsung has become the first company to sign a Registry Agreement for a dot-brand gTLD.

As of yesterday, the electronics giant is now officially contracted with ICANN to run .삼성, its name in its native Korean.

It’s surprising that Samsung would be the first; while its application has priority number 18, its application also makes it pretty obvious it’s a primarily defensive move, reading:

The new gTLD proposed by SAMSUNG SDS has purpose in protecting online brand of SAMSUNG Group including SAMSUNG by defending abusive registration by third parties and further raising global awareness by domain usage utilizing company name.

The contract has not yet been published in full — expect that over the next few days — so it’s not yet clear whether Samsung has managed to negotiate any special dot-brand-specific amendments.

The base Registry Agreement contains lots of obligations, such as Sunrise periods, that really aren’t applicable to single-registrant spaces.

I understand the new Brand Registry Group is currently trying to negotiate a baseline set of dot-brand amendments with ICANN, so it’s possible that Samsung has jumped the gun by signing so soon.

But it could also mean that .삼성 will be the first-ever dot-brand TLD to go live on the internet, which is likely to benefit from substantial media coverage compared to subsequent delegations.

ICANN has signed 48 new gTLD contracts since July, way behind its originally target of 40 per week.

.삼성 will have its back-end registry managed by .kr ccTLD operator KISA.

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newdomains.org ticket compo winners announced

Kevin Murphy, September 26, 2013, Domain Services

The winners of the recent DI prize draw, with three free tickets for the newdomains.org conference at stake, have been confirmed.

To enter the competition, you simply had to leave a comment on DI completing the sentence “The biggest challenge facing new gTLDs next year will be…”

I read all the submissions and found them all interesting but ultimately the comments were completely irrelevant in determining the winners, which were selected by three random numbers generated by Random.org.

The winners were:

  • Colin Campbell of .CLUB Domains.
  • Jeffrey Sass of .CLUB Domains.
  • Phil Buckingham of DotAdvice.

It definitely looks weird that two people from the same company won tickets. Weird enough that for half a second I wondered whether justice would be better serviced if were to fix a different outcome.

But I didn’t. If it looks unjust, blame randomness. Fate’s a bitch.

Many thanks to all who entered. There were some interesting comments.

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