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.CO Internet scores TechCrunch marketing coup with Disrupt.co

The newly relaunched .co domain has won itself a whole bunch of free publicity by signing up TechCrunch to its Founders Program.

The tech news blog will use the domain Disrupt.co as part of its startup conference of the same name that kicks off today.

The web site will host “Startup Battlefield”, a competition during TechCrunch Disrupt for new companies and services.

.CO Internet is marketing Colombia’s .co ccTLD as a generic. The launch is currently in its trademark sunrise period, with registrations opening to other registrants next month.

Its Founders Program is a marketing scheme designed to get the word out about the availability of .co domains. Few partners could be as useful to this end as TechCrunch.

Founders get a free premium domain if they promise to promote it properly. CO Internet is still looking for more partners, with applications closing June 15.

I expect disrupt.com, currently parked, will also be getting a lot of traffic today.

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UrbanBrain proposes first properly generic new gTLD

Japanese registry wannabe UrbanBrain will apply for .site under ICANN’s first round of new top-level domain applications.

Of all the registries to so far show their hands for the new TLD round, .site is probably the first that could properly be described as both new and “generic”.

UrbanBrain said the namespace will be targeted at “Internet users, hobbyists, and business owners”. A pretty generic constituency.

Also, the dotSiTE launch page currently contains a bullet-pointed list of three reasons why .site will indeed be as generic as they come.

The dotSiTE internet extension is full of possibilities.

* Optimize your SiTE with great keywords

* Some other text

* Another reason

All the other 100-odd new TLD applications to have been publicly disclosed to date address specific geographical, cultural or niche interest markets.

There are also two (for now) applications for .web, which I’m not counting as “new” gTLD applications because they’ve been on the table for over a decade.

UrbanBrain is affiliated with Japanese ISP Interlink, and registry-in-a-box venture RegistryASP.

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Go Daddy tech support is a cash cow

Go Daddy’s call center support staff make the company hundreds of thousands of dollars a day in up-sells, according to documents revealed as part of an employee class-action lawsuit.

I covered the lawsuit (PDF), filed by three former Go Daddy employees, for The Register on Friday.

One of the plaintiffs, Toby Harris, was fired after he leaked “confidential” screenshots of the company’s CRM system to his home email address.

I’m not going to get into the details of the lawsuit, which concerns labor practices, here.

But the screenshots, which offer a bit of insight into how much revenue these front-line call center staff make for Go Daddy, are worth looking at.

According to one, Harris delivered over $10,000 in gross sales for the company over nine working days in January, taking about 5% of that for himself in commission.

Not bad for a rookie $12-an-hour support guy, considering how cheap most Go Daddy products are.

Another CRM screen shows the performance of a couple dozen members of Harris’ team, including how much commission they made over a two-week period and how many customer calls they handled.

These 23 employees made between $1,290 and $255 in commissions over the period, averaging $564 each, dealing with on average 31 calls each per day.

If that’s 5% of the gross, over 10 business days, you could try to extrapolate some company-wide data, but the screenshot probably represents too small a sample to make any precise calculations.

Still, it’s pretty clear that that a substantial chunk of Go Daddy’s revenue is generated by call center staff.

Harris told me he was expected to shift $250 to $450 worth of product every day, the equivalent of selling at least one new $8 domain name to every caller.

Domain Name Wire reported last December that the company had 1,600 support staff. At the low end of $250 a day, that would equate to $400,000 a day or $146 million a year from the phones alone.

I guess I found this a little surprising because while I always knew Go Daddy’s web site was a cash machine, I had assumed its call center spent most of its time providing technical support.

As a customer, I often wondered how the company managed to run such a high-quality support service on such a pitifully low-margin loss-leader.

Now I know. Judging by these leaked numbers, those guys more than pay for themselves.

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Verizon hires investigator to track down DirectNIC bosses

Verizon has won a delay in its cybersquatting lawsuit against domain registrar DirectNIC, because it can’t seem to track down and serve its CEO, Sigmund Solares.

In its latest filings with the Florida District Court, Verizon says that it had to hire a private detective to track down DirectNIC director Michael Gardner, and ended up serving his wife instead.

But, two months after filing the suit, the company still hasn’t managed to track down Solares.

“Plaintiff continues to diligently attempt to serve the lone remaining Defendant yet to be served, Sigmund Solares… Plaintiffs continue to diligently try to locate and serve this Defendant.”

DirectNIC, previously known as Intercosmos Media Group, relocated to the Cayman Islands from New Orleans in 2008, which may explain some of Verizon’s difficulty.

Indeed, when Verizon turned up to serve the company in New Orleans, it found its old office (from where employees attracted global attention for live-blogging Hurricane Katrina) closed.

Verizon sued DirectNIC, along with several directors and alleged aliases, in March, claiming they had squatted on at least 288 domains that included Verizon trademarks.

The case is of note because Verizon alleges that DirectNIC broke US cybersquatting laws when it parked expired domains that contained Verizon trademarks.

Parking pre-delete expired names is a common practice among registrars, which makes the lawsuit puzzling.

But Verizon does appear to be digging for something else, its complaint suggesting a connection between DirectNIC and its nominal registrants that may not be entirely kosher.

Without legal discovery, its hunches could go nowhere. And before Solares is served, it cannot proceed to discovery.

The court has granted an extension until late August, or 30 days after Solares is served, for the first case management meeting.

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Africa gets its third ICANN registrar

It’s been over eight years since ICANN held its public meeting in Accra, but only now has Ghana got its first accredited domain name registrar.

Ghana Dot Com becomes Africa’s third ICANN-approved registrar, the first new accreditation on the continent since 2007.

The first African registrar was Burundi’s AfriRegister, the second Kheweul.com of Senegal.

Ghana Dot Com appears to be the dba of Network Computer Systems Ltd, the ISP that already manages Ghana’s .gh ccTLD.

Its chairman, Nii Quaynor, is a former member of the ICANN board of directors, elected in 2000 and serving until 2003.

Ghana has about 23 million citizens and almost one million internet users, according to InternetWorldStats.com.

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