Minds + Machines is still pulling in most of its cash from one-time new gTLD auction defeats, according to its latest trading update.
The company yesterday reported billings for 2015 of $7.92 million, up from $5.03 million in 2013.
But the company brought in $9.15 million by pulling out of private new gTLD auctions, where the winning bid is shared among the losers. That’s down from $37.5 million in 2014.
“Billings” is the money make at the point of sale, rather than audited revenue which is recognized over the life of the registration. Revenue numbers will come in April.
For the fourth quarter, sales of both premium and standard-fee names were up.
Premium names were up 215% at $1.52 million, which standard name billings were up 184% at $2.66 million.
The company said its registry business ended the year with 278,523 names under management, a 158% increase on year-ago numbers.
M+M met or beat its “key performance indicator” targets in terms of average revenue per name (both standard and premium) and sales growth.
However, the Chinese market boom caused it to miss its market share KPI.
It blamed missing the low end of its 3% to 5% new gTLD market share target by half a percentage point on the rapid growth of China.
The money being pumped into domain names from China in the second half of last year tends to favor the budget end of the new gTLD market, where names can be picked up for cents, whereas M+M’s TLD mix is skewed a little higher.
M+M said last week that it plans to open an office in China soon.
Lawyer-happy gTLD applicant Commercial Connect has put GMO Registry’s $41 million purchase of the new gTLD .shop in jeopardy by filing an appeal with ICANN.
On January 26 — the day before the .shop auction — the Connecticut-based company filed an Independent Review Process complaint with ICANN, asking a panel of judges to enjoin ICANN from delegating .shop or even signing a registry contract with GMO.
It’s applied for “emergency” relief. Its full IRP complaint has yet to be filed.
GMO won a seven-way ICANN auction for .shop last week, agreeing to pay $41.5 million into ICANN coffers.
The IRP news will not be particularly surprising for anyone who has followed the .shop contention set closely.
Commercial Connect has deployed pretty much every legal avenue available to it in order to win .shop, which had eight competing applications.
It applied as a “community” applicant, but unsurprisingly failed to meet the stringent criteria that a Community Priority Evaluation requires.
It scored a measly 5 out of the 16 available CPE points, missing the 14-point target.
The company also spunked goodness knows how much cash filing 21 formal objections against other gTLD applicants — ridiculous complaints that “.supply” or “.セール” or “.services” were “confusingly similar” to .shop.
It actually managed to win two of its string similarity challenges, when panelists apparently decided to write their judgments before their morning coffee had kicked in.
It was probable that .shopping and .通販 would be confused with .shop in the mind of the average internet user, these panelists decided.
The .通販 decision was thrown out when sanity prevailed, but the .shopping decision stood. Only a recent back-room deal between Uniregistry and Donuts prevented the .shop auction being a head-explodingly confusing mess.
Now, with its IRP, Commercial Connect is claiming that the whole CPE system goes against ICANN rules.
According to its initial complaint, the fact that the CPE adjudicator, the Economist Intelligence Unit, came up with its own supplemental “CPE Guidelines” means that the the CPE system is not “ICANN policy” and should therefore be disregarded.
At first glance, it seems weak. But I said the same about the DotConnectAfrica IRP case, which DCA won.
IRP panels have been known to be somewhat “activist” (not necessarily a bad thing) recently, so it’s hard to call which way they will swing in any specific case.
But it does seem quite possible that the emergency relief that Commercial Connect requests — that is, no .shop contract until the IRP is over — will be granted.
For GMO, that means it’s just spent $41.5 million on a gTLD it probably won’t be able to launch for well over a year.
It’s perhaps interesting that Commercial Connect doesn’t seem to make any reference in its IRP to its original 2000-round application for .shop.
If that comes up in future filings, it could open up an entirely new can of worms.
Donuts today said that it has added its two millionth new domain name registration.
The domain in question was schedule.holiday, the company said.
The number appears to refer to fresh registrations, not including renewals, across all of its TLDs.
Its first batch of gTLDs launched about two years ago.
The registry currently has 192 new gTLDs, 185 of which are in general availability, according to DI records, making the average haul about 10,000 names per TLD.
If we were talking $20 per registration (an estimate, as Donuts doesn’t publish its registry fees), the company would have made $40 million from new regs.
That’s not including its sunrise fees, renewals, or recurring premium-fee domains, of course.
It spent almost $57 million just on ICANN application fees.
It expects to wind up with about 200 by the time the current application round ends.
Its best performer to date is .guru, one of its first to launch, which has about 65,000 names in its zone file today and, according to Donuts, over 67,000 names in total.
An organization representing staff members of the United Nations has come out in support of dotgay LLC’s struggling community application for the .gay gTLD.
UN-GLOBE comprises UN employees who identify as “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and inter-sex”. Its primary goals are pushing for equal rights for these groups within the UN system.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s judging panel has kicked out both of dotgay’s CPEs on the grounds that the applicant’s definition of “gay” includes straight people, and straight people aren’t gay.
But UN-GLOBE, echoing dotgay’s own view, wrote:
We also express our disagreement over the results of the Community Priority Evaluation of October 8, 2015 that rejected dotgay LCC’s community application based on its narrow analysis of the term gay. The term gay should be understood globally instead, as it is generally understood by the internationally diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and ally (LGBTQIA) community represented in dotgay LLC’s application.
It might be worth noting that UN-GLOBE makes no mention of its own membership including “allies” — that is, people who are not LGBTQI but nevertheless support equal rights — in its letter or on its web site.
If ICANN closes the door on more appeals, the .gay contention set will go to auction where its rivals are Rightside, Top Level Design and Minds + Machines.
One way or another, there will be a .gay gTLD, the only question is whether it will be restricted to approved “gay community” members or open to all.
ICANN is bringing in metal detectors, bag searches and ID checks at its forthcoming public meeting in Marrakech, Morocco.
The measures are being introduced despite ICANN’s assurances that it considers the chance of terrorism at ICANN 55 to be “LOW”.
In a statement today, ICANN meetings boss Nick Tomasso said:
we are in constant and on-going communication with our hosts and the Moroccan government, to assess any security concerns surrounding the upcoming meeting. In addition, we are working with a highly respected global security-consulting firm, which gives us on-going updates of potential risks. This firm has also assigned a senior level analyst to work with ICANN.
As of this date, the assessments of these various security experts is that there is only a LOW risk of any type of terrorist activity in Morocco.
The statement comes as some members of the ICANN community have been expressing concerns about visiting Morocco, in the light of recent ISIS/Daesh-linked terrorist attacks in North Africa.
Morocco itself has not been the target of any successful Daesh attacks, though members of the cell behind the November attacks in Paris are reported to have Moroccan links.
Marrakech was bombed by an Al Qaeda-linked group in 2011.
Several Western governments urge visitors to the country to exercise caution, saying there’s a high risk of terrorist attacks.
The UK government says, for example:
There is a high threat from terrorism in Morocco. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.
The US government is less alarmist:
The potential for terrorist violence against U.S. interests and citizens exists in Morocco. Moroccan authorities continue to disrupt groups seeking to attack U.S. or Western-affiliated and Moroccan government targets, arresting numerous individuals associated with international terrorist groups. With indications that such groups still seek to carry out attacks in Morocco, it is important for U.S. citizens to be keenly aware of their surroundings and adhere to prudent security practices such as avoiding predictable travel patterns and maintaining a low profile.
I’ve heard community members speculate that an ICANN meeting, with its broad international mix of delegates, some governmental, might be an attractive target.
Personally, I’m not convinced the risk is much greater than it would be in any Western capital. My mother is vacationing unaccompanied in Egypt around the same time, and I’m fine with that.
However, ICANN seems to be taking the concerns seriously.
Tomasso added the following, non-exhaustive list of new security measures for ICANN 55:
- Every delegate will now need a government-issued ID to pick up a badge at the registration desk.
- There will be increased security screening for those entering our meeting venue, which may include metal detectors, magnetic wands and bag checks.
- There will be advanced verification of delegate registration information by Moroccan authorities.
- Security will be increased at the hotels where delegates are staying.
- We are establishing a 24/7 operations center at the venue.
It’s not exactly TSA-levels of privacy invasion, but I can see some would-be delegates being put off by the extra hassle.
If ICANN were to cancel the Marrakech meeting, it would risk seriously pissing off African community members.
The Marrakech meeting was originally scheduled for 2015, but it was postponed due to fears about the Ebola virus, which at the time was running rampant in African countries thousands of miles away.
ICANN also cancelled a planned 2011 meeting in Jordan due to Middle East security concerns.
ICANN 55 is scheduled for March 5 to 10.