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.xyz helps CentralNic double its revenue

Kevin Murphy, April 28, 2015, Domain Registries

CentralNic’s revenue almost doubled in 2014, helped by the launch of new gTLDs.

The UK-based registry today reported annual operating profit of £497,000 ($759,000), down from £694,000 ($1.05 million) in 2013, on the back of revenue up 99% at £6.06 million ($9.25 million).

Billings– money taken but not yet recorded as revenue — was up a whopping 154% at £9.89 million ($15.1 million).

Part of the reason for the growth was the launch of new gTLDs last year.

CentralNic acts as the registry back-end for eight TLDs that launched last year, including runaway volume leader .xyz, which has about 880,000 domains in its zone file today.

Another big contributor was Internet.bs, the Bahamas-based registrar that CentralNic acquired for $7.5 million last year.

The registrar had about 400,000 legacy gTLD domains under management at the end of the year, according to DI’s records.

Both new gTLDs and Internet.bs started contributing to revenue in the second half of the year.

CentralNic also said that its new “enterprise” division, which sells premium domains and offers consulting and software, was a growth factor.

CEO Ben Crawford told the markets that the new gTLD opportunity has so far been “softer” than expected.

Only a small number of retailers received their accreditations from ICANN to sell domains under the new TLDs in 2014, and a lack of public awareness pending the launches of the “superbrand TLDs” such as .google, .apple and .sony, meant that the market for new TLDs in 2014 was softer than had been projected by ICANN and other industry experts. It was essentially limited to domain investors and other early adopters.

Opinion in split in the industry on how much reliance can be put on what Crawford calls “super-brands” to do the heavy lifting when it comes to public awareness of new gTLDs.

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.hiv reserve set at $200,000, revenue so far $83,000

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2015, Domain Registries

The soon-to-be-auctioned new gTLD .hiv has a reserve price of $200,000, but the registry reckons it’s worth as much as $700,000.

That’s according to auction documents provided by dotHIV Registry to DI today.

The documents also reveal that .hiv has made a profit revenue of $83,000 in its first seven months.

UPDATE: Germany-based dotHIV says now that the reference to “net income” in its prospectus was a translation error. The $83,000 refers to revenue — the top line, not the bottom line. The company intends to update its auction documents “instantly”.

Earlier today we reported that the gTLD is to go under the hammer with Innovative Auctions on June 3/4.

We reported that the gTLD had about 2,000 registrations, but it turns out that number includes about 1,700 registry-reserved names.

The actual number, as of March 31, is 410, of which 345 pay the $179 annual registry fee. Another 63 domains were given away for free to HIV charities for a three-year period.

While this generated a net income revenue of $83,000, registry CEO Carolin Silbernagl confirmed to DI that its contract with ICANN is supposed to require “all” of its profits to be donated to HIV causes.

According to the documents:

Public Interest Commitment binds the TLD to non-profit operations. All excess profit, after the deduction of all thinkable costs and investments, is to be donated to a charitable cause of the owner’s choice.

We have founded and built the .hiv TLD as a tool for positive social impact. To safeguard this vision, the voluntary PIC in the .hiv Registry Agreement binds the owner to invest all excess profit in the projects that support the fight against AIDS.

All this comes at no risk for the registry: Operational costs are covered first. No one expects you to donate if there is no surplus. Costs include the purchase price of the TLD in this auction.

The registry’s documents affirm that the key reason to buy .hiv would be to boost your public image due to “corporate social responsibility”.

The buyer would also get free marketing support from the German ad agency thjnk and free data escrow from NCC Group until July 2017, along with a bunch of software dotHIV uses to manage the TLD.

According to dotHIV, there were 14,000 pre-registrations with registrars prior to launch. Most balked at the high registration fee and did not convert into buyers.

The registry says the new owner could capitalize on some of this interest, growing volumes, by reducing its registry fee.

There are 47 registrars accredited to sell .hiv domains, including Go Daddy.

Premium names sold so far, for between $1,500 and $5,000, include: treat.hiv, test.hiv, cure.hiv, prevent.hiv, magazin.hiv, hivanswers.hiv, prävention.hiv, prep.hiv, vorsorge.hiv.

If dotHIV makes a profit from selling the gTLD, it says it will donate it to HIV charities.

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KickAssTorrents continues world tour after latest ccTLD ban

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2015, Domain Registries

One of the most popular sites for finding copyright-infringing BitTorrent files is reportedly heading to Costa Rica after its latest choice of ccTLD banned it.

KickAssTorrents, which is about the 100th most-popular site on the web, had moved to kickasstorrents.im yesterday, but found its new domain deleted by the Isle of Man registry in a matter of hours.

The site’s owners have TorrentFreak said they now plan to move to kat.cr, in the Costa Rican ccTLD.

KAT has previously been hosted in Somalia’s .so, Tonga’s .to and the Philippines’ .ph.

Here in the UK, major ISPs are obliged to block access to the site after a court ruling.

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.hiv to auction with “no profiting” catch

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2015, Domain Registries

Don’t all rush to your checkbooks at once.

The live TLD .hiv is going to be among the next batch of new gTLDs auctioned off by Innovative Auctions, but the contract comes with a no-profit clause.

Innovative and dotHIV Registry announced the sale yesterday.

.hiv is an unsuccessful gTLD so far. It had just over 2,000 registered names at the end of 2014, according to registry reports, but never more than 423 the names have been present in the DNS.

Registry CEO Carolin Silbernagl said:

In the eight months since our launch we have gained a lot of insight about what it needs to reach this. The reason why we are offering .hiv for sale is because we see how successful it can be. However, we realized that dotHIV is not the right vehicle for the next phase – the TLD needs a bigger and more international home to truly spread its wings.

It went to general availability last August, with an innovative but risky business model based around charitable micro-donations to HIV/AIDS causes.

Of the $200 annual retail fee, dotHIV put $120 into a pool reserved for charities. Every visit to a .hiv that was participating in a “Click Counter” service would cause a small amount of that money to actually be donated.

Judging by visits to a few .hiv domains this morning, just €862 — less than $1,000 — has been donated so far, based on fewer than 133,000 clicks.

This donation model is “just one of many possible uses” and not a contractual requirement, according to Silbernagl.

There is, however, a binding Public Interest Commitment that obliges the registry to give “all excess profits” to HIV causes. The PIC reads:

Registry Operator commits to implementing and performing the following protections for the TLD: Registry Operator, as a social enterprise, is driven by its sole mission to support the global HIV response. Therefore, Registry Operator will reinvest all excess profits in projects serving this mission.

Not it’s not exactly an attractive investment opportunity, in terms of pure cash ROI.

But Innovative said there’s another reason to buy: “Approaching .hiv as a corporate philanthropic engagement could have positive effects on public image and employee satisfaction for the buyer.”

.hiv is due to be part of the June 3/4 live gTLD auction, which also includes .promo.

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New gTLD zones top five million names

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2015, Domain Registries

There are now more than five million new gTLD domain names live in the DNS.

That’s according to zone files collated by ICANN, which I’m told show 5,002,252 names across the 597 new gTLD registries providing data.

That works out to a mean of 8,378 domains per TLD, a median of 1,254.

The largest zone file is .xyz, with 877,450 names. There’s at least 100 new gTLDs with only one domain in their zones.

Due to the way ICANN’s Centralized Zone Data Service works (or doesn’t work) with access rights expiring on a pretty much daily basis, it’s virtually impossible for a third party such as DI to count up zone file numbers across every new gTLD with 100% daily accuracy.

Today, DI PRO reports a count of 4,999,024 names.

The total number of zone file domains in this post was provided by ICANN, which does not have the same CZDS restrictions as the rest of us.

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