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DotGreen calls it quits with “impossible” gTLD auction looming

Kevin Murphy, October 11, 2013, Domain Registries

DotGreen, the first public and easily most visible applicant for the new gTLD .green, has withdrawn its application, saying it has become “impossible” to continue.

In a statement sent to DI tonight, founder and CEO Annalisa Roger said:

While DotGreen supported the New gTLD program, we believe we exhausted all options within the framework of the New gTLD applicant guidebook and the multi-stakeholder model for procuring .green management. DotGreen remains locked in contention facing an auction among three registry competitors from the Internet industry. Unfortunately it is impossible for DotGreen to proceed within these circumstances.

Today we withdrew DotGreen Community, Inc.’s application for the .green TLD.

DotGreen was founded in 2007 and had built up a small following of supporting environmental organizations. A charitable organization, the plan was to use the proceeds from the registry to fund worthy projects.

A prominent applicant from well before the ICANN application window opened, it held regular eco-themed events during ICANN meetings and even recruited its CFO/COO, Tim Switzer, from its back-end provider, Neustar.

(Switzer is chair of the New gTLD Applicants Group, NTAG, but is expected to resign as a result of the withdrawal.)

But it’s facing competition for .green from portfolio applicants Demand Media, Afilias, and Top Level Domain Holdings.

“It is tough for a single-string applicant,” Roger said. “An auction, sorry, it’s not the appropriate scenario for the .green TLD for several reasons. It really the undermines the authenticity and the faith that the community has put in us and the multi-stakeholder model.”

There’s no way the company could win at auction against three big portfolio applicants, she said.

Despite the company name, DotGreen Community’s application was not a “Community” application under ICANN rules and the only way out of contention was going to be private settlement or auction.

It also faced the uncertainty of Governmental Advisory Committee advice, which had classified the string as requiring extra safeguards for “consumer protection” purposes, causing indefinite delays.

It seems the final decision was financial — the cost of delays and an auction too much for the start-up to bear. It’s a pity really — there was some genuine enthusiasm for the cause behind this bid.

The .green gTLD will now go to which one of the remaining three applicants stumps up the most cash at auction.

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More Extended Evaluation passes this week

Kevin Murphy, October 11, 2013, Domain Registries

Four new gTLD applications passed Extended Evaluation this week, and two that were stuck in Initial Evaluation finally made it through, ICANN just revealed.

The Extended Evaluation successes were DotPay’s application for .pay, Commercial Connect’s application for .shop, CompassRose.life’s application for .life and GED Domains’ application for .ged.

The dot-brands .adac (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club) and .jio (Affinity Names) passed IE.

Commercial Connect is notable for being 2000-round applicant trying again. It failed on its technical evaluation first time through.

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Donuts’ first gTLD sunrise slated for October 29

Kevin Murphy, October 11, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts has reportedly become the first new gTLD registry to announce its first sunrise periods.

According to BrandShelter, part of the KeyDrive registrar group, nine of Donuts gTLDs will enter sunrise on October 29.

The nine are: .camera, .clothing, .equipment, .guru, .holdings, .lighting, .singles, .ventures and .voyage.

The sunrise periods will last 60 days, BrandShelter said.

I’m seeking confirmation and additional information from Donuts and will provide an update later.

UPDATE: Donuts’ Jon Nevett, in the comments, states that the dates are “estimates”.

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Third Bulgarian new gTLDs conference planned

Kevin Murphy, October 11, 2013, Domain Services

Domain Forum, the Bulgarian new gTLDs conference, will run for a third time on November 1 in Sofia.

The one-day event, which will be free to attend and conducted in English, will have a focus this year on Cyrillic internationalized domain names, according to organizers.

Much of the agenda has yet to be finalized but confirmed speakers include consultant Stephane Van Gelder, Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon and Afilias business development director Francesco Cetraro.

Organizer UNINET also hopes to have an ICANN VP keynoting.

Domain Forum will take place at the National Palace of Culture in central Sofia.

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Domain Name Association opens membership

Kevin Murphy, October 11, 2013, Domain Services

The new Domain Name Association, which hopes to represent the interests of the domain name industry as a whole, has opened its doors to new members.

The DNA formed in January, named an interim board in April, and has spent the last several months conducting outreach and establishing its corporate structure, goals and membership rules.

Membership prices range from $1,000 to $50,000, with the make-up of the final board (estimated to be fewer than 20 directors) determined by which companies pay for the more expensive membership tiers.

Paying $50,000 will guarantee you a seat on the board, for example, while paying $5,000 makes your company eligible for, but not guaranteed, one of two reserved seats.

Speaking at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress in London two weeks ago, interim DNA chair Adrian Kinderis made no bones about the fact that the DNA is pay-to-play; it’s “not a democracy”.

It’s a trade group in the usual sense, in other words, borrowing nothing from ICANN’s multistakeholder model.

That said, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade encouraged its creation and ICANN seems to generally support its goal.

That goal is to represent the entire domain name industry — registrars, registries, resellers, etc. Its mission statement is pretty succinct:

Promote the interest of the domain name industry by advocating the use, adoption, and expansion of domain names as the primary tool for users to navigate the Internet.

Promoting new gTLDs is its first priority.

The DNA operates two web sites: thedna.org for its members and whatdomain.org for internet end users.

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