Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

TLDH applies for 92 gTLDs, 68 for itself

Top Level Domain Holdings is involved in a grand total of 92 new generic top-level domain applications, many of them already known to be contested.

Sixty-eight applications are being filed on its own behalf, six have been submitted via joint ventures, and 18 more have been submitted on behalf of Minds + Machines clients.

Here’s the list of its own applications:

.abogado (Spanish for .lawyer), .app, .art, .baby, .beauty, .beer, .blog, .book, .casa (Spanish for .home), .cloud, .cooking, .country, .coupon, .cpa, .cricket, .data, .dds, .deals, .design, .dog, .eco, .fashion, .fishing, .fit, .flowers, .free, .garden, .gay, .green, .guide, .home, .horse, .hotel, .immo, .inc, .latino, .law, .lawyer, .llc, .love, .luxe, .pizza, .property, .realestate, .restaurant, .review, .rodeo, .roma, .sale, .school, .science, .site, .soccer, .spa, .store, .style, .surf, .tech, .video, .vip, .vodka, .website, .wedding, .work, .yoga, .zulu, 网址 (.site in Chinese), 购物 (.shopping in Chinese).

There’s a lot to note in that list.

First, it’s interesting to see that TLDH is hedging its bets on the environmental front, applying for both .eco (which we’ve known about for years) and .green.

This puts it into contention with the longstanding Neustar-backed DotGreen bid, and possibly others we don’t yet know about, which should make for some interesting negotiations.

Also, both of TLDH’s previously announced Indian city gTLDs, .mumbai and .bangaluru, seem to have fallen through, as suspected.

Other contention sets TLDH is now confirmed to be involved in include: .blog, .site, .immo, .hotel, .home, .casa, .love, .law, .cloud, .baby, .art, .gay, .style and .store.

The company said in a statement:

During the next six months, TLDH will focus its efforts on marketing and operations for geographic names such as dot London and dot Bayern where it has the exclusive support of the relevant governing authority, as well as any other gTLDs that TLDH has filed for that are confirmed to be uncontested on the Reveal Date. Discussions with other applicants regarding contested names will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

TLDH signs another city gTLD – .budapest

Top Level Domain Holdings has been backed by the city of Budapest as the official applicant for the .budapest generic top-level domain.

If the application is approved, TLDH subsidiary Minds + Machines will run the back-end registry and the city will receive a share of the revenue.

TLDH has previously announced deals with local governments for .london, .bayern (Bavaria), .miami and .nrw (North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state).

The company does not list its two announced Indian city gTLD bids – .mumbai (for which city approval may have been withdrawn) and .bangaluru (which appears to be a typo) — on its web site, but a spokesperson indicated that they’re both still active applications.

TLDH also seems to be confirming on its web site that it is in fact applying for .horse, an application I’d long suspected was nothing more than a red herring. Guess I was wrong.

Budapest is of course Hungary’s capital city. Wikipedia says it has about 1.74 million inhabitants, making it Europe’s seventh-largest city.

Rugby board tries for .rugby with TLDH

Kevin Murphy, April 23, 2012, Domain Registries

The International Rugby Board has applied to ICANN for the generic top-level domain .rugby with Top Level Domain Holdings, the IRB announced today.

It appears to be a defensive as well as offensive move, judging by the press release.

It’s about “protecting and promoting Rugby’s values and ethos” and ensuring .rugby “resides within the sport”, according to IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

The application will be filed in partnership with TLDH, as well as a new company called ROAR Domains, which appears to be a part of a Kiwi sports marketing agency.

If the bid is successful, TLDH subsidiary Minds + Machines will provide the registry back-end.

The IRB is the international body for rugby associations which organizes the Rugby World Cup.

There are already a few .sport bids, and the Australian Football League has applied for a .afl dot-brand, but I think .rugby may be the first sport-specific gTLD application to be announced.

TLDH wins .london contract, gets hacked

Kevin Murphy, April 11, 2012, Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings has won the exclusive contract to apply to ICANN for the .london generic top-level domain, it has just been announced.

The deal was awarded by Dot London Domains, a subsidiary of official city PR agency London & Partners, to Minds + Machines Ltd, TLDH’s London-based subsidiary.

M+M will assist with the application and, assuming ICANN delegates .london, the registry infrastructure for at least seven years, with a three-year renewal option.

The application fees will be paid by L&P, according to TLDH chairman Peter Dengate Thrush.

The good news was soured slightly by an apparent hacking of TLDH’s web site by Viagra spammers this morning. According to the Google Cache, when the news broke, tldh.org looked like this:

TLDH

TLDH is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market.

It also has an office here, though its senior executives are based in the US and the company is registered in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.

I’d previously tagged .uk registry Nominet as the favorite to win the contract, but the company said today that it withdrew its bid last week.

APRIL 12 UPDATE

TLDH denies it got hacked yesterday. According to a spokesperson, there was an incident last August that may have been responsible for the Google Cache continuing to show Viagra spam for tldh.org yesterday.

From the explanation provided, it sounds like it was probably what’s sometimes known as a “conditional hack”, a difficult-to-detect attack whereby only the GoogleBot sees the spam SEO links.

The TLDH web site itself apparently never showed the links to visitors. Indeed, I only looked at the cache because tldh.org refused to load up for me yesterday morning.

The spokesperson maintained that the problem was sorted out last August and that TLDH has no idea why the Google Cache was showing the spam links in its cached page dated April 11, 2012.

M+M joins .music fight

Kevin Murphy, March 23, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines parent Top Level Domain Holdings has become the third company to publicly confirm an application for the .music top-level domain.

TLDH has partnered with “music industry figures including artists, managers, music producers and lawyers” going by the name of LHL TLD Investment Partners on a joint-venture bid.

M+M will provide the technical back-end for the applicant.

The other two known applicants for .music are Far Further, which has the backing of most major music trade groups, and the long-running MyTLD/Music.us/Roussos Group campaign.

Assuming Roussos and TLDH can each pull one plausible public comment objection out of the bag, Far Further’s Community Priority Evaluation is probably scuppered.

With two objections, a CPE candidate needs a perfect 14/14 score on the remaining criteria, which is likely going to be pretty difficult when you’re applying for such a generic term.

In other new gTLD applicant news…

.miami — TLDH also announced today that it plans to apply for .miami, having secured the support of City of Miami in a 4-0 vote of its commissioners.

.nyc – The city of New York has reportedly granted its consent to Neustar to apply for .nyc, apparently beating out other wannabe applicants including TLDH.

.vlaanderen – The Flemish government has awarded the right to apply for .vlaanderen (.flanders) to DNS.be. The registry will reportedly work with Nic.at on the application.

.nagoya – GMO Registry has announced a bid for the Japanese city gTLD .nagoya, with the backing of the local government. Nagoya is Japan’s third-largest city.

M+M in bizarre Bengaluru gTLD bid

Kevin Murphy, February 29, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines is to apply to ICANN for .bangaluru, a top-level domain for the Indian city of Bengaluru.

Parent Top Level Domain Holdings announced today that M+M will enter into a joint venture with local partner India TL Domain for the application.

Confusingly, the proposed gTLD appears to be a misspelling – or at least a very uncommon spelling – of the name of the city in question.

The city is still often known by its old colonial name, Bangalore. But in 2006 it officially renamed itself Bengaluru, its original Kannada name.

But a TLDH spokesperson has confirmed that the company is applying for .bangaluru, with an A, which does not appear to be an official name for the city in any language.

The application has the support of the Bengaluru’s mayor’s office, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, which is a prerequisite for city gTLD applications.

On its web site, BBMP calls the city “Bengaluru”, but in its letter of support for the M+M/ITLD bid it refers to “Bangaluru” and “dot Bangaluru”.

Is the city going to get a gTLD with a confusing Latin spelling? It certainly appears that way.

Bengaluru is India’s third most-populous city, with six million citizens. It’s known as India’s tech hub.

M+M and ITLD have also previously been linked to a joint-venture bid for .mumbai, though a question mark was raised over its governmental support last August.

M+M registers for another 20 gTLD applications

Kevin Murphy, February 21, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines parent Top Level Domain Holdings has registered for another 20 new gTLD application slots with ICANN, bringing its total to date to 40.

The TLD Application System slots are for filing gTLD applications for itself and on behalf of M+M clients, the company said this morning.

A week ago, ICANN said that 100 registrations had been made with TAS.

TLDH is known to be involved in applications for .gay and .eco, among others. It registered its first 20 application slots during the first week of the application window, mid-January.

M+M adds $14m to new gTLDs war chest

Kevin Murphy, February 10, 2012, Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings has raised £9 million ($14.2 million) with a share sale, boosting its ability to apply for new generic top-level domains.

TLDH, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market in London, owns registry provider Minds + Machines and has interests in a number of new gTLD joint ventures.

The shares were sold to “institutional and other investors” for 8.25p each, the company said.

TLDH now has a cash pile of about $25 million, CEO Antony Van Couvering said in a press release. Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush added:

TLDH management believes that the increased capital will allow it to increase significantly the number of applications it is able to make, allowing it to develop a wider, more diversified portfolio of names in multiple languages and scripts

The current cash balance would allow it to apply for 135 gTLDs, if it blew the whole lot on application fees.

I expect its actual number of applications to be more like 30, which would leave TLDH with about $20 million in reserve for fighting contested applications and start-up costs.

It could also try to raise some more money from the markets when some of its gTLD applications start being approved, of course.

Being the only public company entirely devoted to new gTLDs may leave TLDH in an interesting tactical position a few months from now — competing applicants are going to have a relatively good insight into the strength of its hand if any of its applications go to auction.

M+M wins contract for ‘laptops and lederhosen’ gTLD

Kevin Murphy, January 20, 2012, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines has won governmental approval for its .bayern new gTLD application, according to the company.

The Bavarian state government has said it will back a bid for .bayern from Bayern Connect, which is majority-owned by M+M parent Top Level Domain Holdings, TLDH said today.

According to its press release, M+M will provide the back-end registry services, which strongly suggests that it does not plan to outsource to Neustar on this occasion.

Bayern Connect is not the only company to have announced a .bayern application, however.

Rival applicant PunktBayern, which is backed by United Domains and InterNetX among others, has been public about its plans for a couple of years too. Last year, it selected Afilias to provide its registry back-end.

If the Bavarian government is offering its exclusive support to Bayern Connect, as TLDH now says, it puts a serious question mark over the viability of the PunktBayern bid.

Under ICANN’s rules, any gTLD purporting to represent a state must secure the support or non-objection of the relevant government. Without that support, applications will be rejected.

PunktBayern does have a registered trademark on “.bayern”, however, so the tussle may not be quite over yet.

Bayern is the German name for Bavaria. The state has a population of about 12.5 million and quite a strong sense of its own identity.

It’s often referred to as the land of “laptops and lederhosen” due to a long-running government policy of friendliness to the tech industry.

Even without Al Gore, don’t count Minds + Machines out of the .eco race

Kevin Murphy, September 29, 2011, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines may have lost the support of Al Gore for its .eco bid, but it should not necessarily be dismissed as a contender for the .eco top-level domain.

The Guardian today reported that the former US vice president’s Alliance for Climate Protection campaign has dropped its support for the M+M-backed Dot Eco LLC .eco bid.

It noted that the other public .eco applicant, Big Room, is backed by former Russian premier Mikhail Gorbachev, and it made some tenuous Cold War allusions accordingly:

The global power struggle, with echoes of the cold war, is over control of the new .eco internet domain which could be up and running by 2013.

But the Guardian has learned that Gore’s group has quietly dropped its plan, leaving the door open for Big Room to act as the registry for the new domain.

The reality is of course not quite as exciting, at least not to a general readership. Big Room in fact quickly distanced itself from the hyperbole in a blog post today.

Gore’s group did in fact stop supporting M+M’s .eco bid earlier this year. The site previously dedicated to the project, SupportDotEco.com, went dark for a while before being redirected to M+M in June.

It seems that the once-public M+M .eco project may now be a regular will-they-won’t-they bid.

So while The Guardian fairly reported that Gore is no longer in the running for .eco, that does not necessarily mean Big Room is a shoo-in either.

As I’ve previously commented, publicly announcing a gTLD application means absolutely nothing.

Big Room may secure .eco. M+M may. Any one of a number of potential candidates could win the contract.

Big Room, which has secured support from many organizations in the environmental community, intends to file its bid with as a self-designated “community” application.

Such a designation can enable applicants for contested gTLDs to avoid an auction, if they can score 14 out of a possible 16 points against the very strict criteria set by ICANN.

Big Room has spent a great deal of time building up support and setting proposed policies governing how .eco will be managed. It has some potentially innovative ideas about how to promote corporate responsibility using domain names.

“I hope people don’t try to hold the community hostage about this, I think our community been very transparent about their intentions,” said Big Room co-founder Trevor Bowden. “If this thing goes to auction, this community has no voice whatever. If they have no voice then the potential of .eco will be diminished.”

Minds + Machines, on the other hand, is on-record saying that it does not believe that .eco could possibly qualify as a community bid.

In July, CEO Antony Van Couvering published a piece on CircleID estimating that, with just nine points out of the 14 required to pass a Community Priority Evaluation, it would not.

It seems that “community” backing, even from an environmentalist as high-profile as Al Gore, may not be part of the M+M .eco application strategy.

With M+M parent Top Level Domain Holdings funded sufficiently to apply for gTLDs into double figures, I would not be at all surprised if .eco is among its target strings.

UPDATE (30/9/11): TLDH has confirmed that Dot Eco LLC will apply for .eco. The characteristically blunt press release also has a few choice words about gTLD applications backed by “celebrities”.