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London meeting already ICANN’s second-biggest

Kevin Murphy, June 17, 2014, Domain Policy

Over 2,200 people have already registered for ICANN 50, which kicks off this coming weekend in London.

According to ICANN, that puts the upcoming meeting second only to last year’s one in Beijing, which had 3,141 pre-registrations and 2,532 eventual attendees.

London’s a pretty convenient “hub” city to fly to, but I suspect a lot of the interest might be related to the IANA transition process, which has put a new spotlight on ICANN in recent months.

ICANN has already laid on overflow viewing rooms for discussions related to the IANA topic.

The meeting officially starts with the welcome ceremony on Monday, but the work begins as usual on Saturday, when the various constituencies gather to decide what they want to moan about this time.

As usual, you don’t have to actually be in London to “attend” the meeting — there’s a full schedule of remote participation opportunities if your diary, bandwidth and time zone permits.

It’s a packed schedule as usual, and it could look overwhelming to a newbie.

A good trick is to simply follow the board of directors around on the Tuesday, when it invites each constituency into the room in turn for some passive-aggressive feedback sessions.

You’ll get a relatively concise breakdown of the top three or four issues on the mind of ICANN participants in that way, but probably not a great deal of insight into the board’s thought process.

The public forum on Thursday is also a highlight. Anyone can take to the mic to say or ask anything (relevant) they please. Comments and questions can also be submitted remotely.

For ICANN 50 the forum has actually been shortened to two hours to accommodate discussions of the IANA process, causing some in the community to question whether ICANN is trying to stifle the crazy.

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CentralNic pays up to $7.5m for Internet.bs

CentralNic has acquired the unfortunately named Bahamas-based registrar Internet.bs for up to $7.5 million, in an effort to bolster its registrar business.

The deal is for a mixture of cash ($2.7 million), newly issued shares ($2.5 million) and a delayed performance-related payout of up to $2.3 million.

CentralNic is best known as a registry and back-end provider, but it also has a registrar, TLD Registrar Solutions, which is aimed primarily at registries that want to vertically integrate.

The acquisition means the company now has a medium sized ICANN-accredited retail registrar arm too.

Internet.bs has well over half a million gTLD names under management, according to registry reports. According to CentralNic, it has 28,000 customers in 199 countries.

The company made a profit of $730,000 last year, CentralNic said.

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.berlin rockets to 116k on free domain offer

A promotion from dotBERLIN saw .berlin more than double its registration count yesterday, as speculators (apparently) swooped to claim over 61,000 free domain names.

The new gTLD ended the day with 115,966 domains in its zone, up 67,347 or 138% on the day.

That makes it the number two new gTLD again, snipping at the heels of .xyz, which has 144,474 names.

But, like .xyz, the numbers are not an accurate reflection of demand.

Giving away free domains seems to be the way to go if you want to quickly rack up your registration count with scant regard for actual end user purchases or renewal rates.

dotBERLIN said yesterday that it was celebrating 50,000 registrations with a five-day offer seeing registrars sell the names for no more than €5.55 ($7.53).

But some registrars are actually offering them for free.

InternetX is one such registrar, and it appears to have taken the vast, vast majority of all the new .berlin registrations yesterday.

Digging into name server records, it appears that at least 61,000 names were registered via InternetX-owned registrars. Of those, over 23,000 appear to have been registered to a single domainer.

InternetX, to the best of my knowledge, wasn’t forcing the domains on its customers, which is what Network Solutions did with .xyz.

According to its web site, the offer was limited to 50 domains per customer, though there appears to be an option to purchase obtain more.

The domainer with the cache of 23,000 names appears to be an InternetX reseller.

The numbers are big, and they may well convert into revenue-generating renewals for dotBERLIN, but right now I don’t think they’re especially reflective of demand among end user registrants.

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Donuts wins .immo gTLD

Donuts has acquired the .immo new gTLD after its three rival bidders withdrew their applications.

Minds + Machines, dotimmobilie and Starting Dot have all withdrawn from the contest in the last few days, presumably due to an auction.

Starting Dot had applied for a Community Priority Evaluation, which would have allowed it to avoid an auction altogether, but it failed to score enough points to pass.

“Immo” is short for “immobilien”, which means “real estate” in German. The contraction is also widely used in other European countries, potentially making it more attractive a string.

The gTLD will compete with .immobilien, which is delegated to RightSide. That TLD has been in general availability since May 28 and has 5,136 domains under management as of today.

It would be fascinating to know whether .immobilien’s performance to date had any bearing on how much the applicants were prepared to bid at auction. But, as usual, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.

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Donuts spends $50 million on new gTLD auctions

Donuts has revealed that its bill for new gTLD auctions has so far come to $50 million.

That, coupled with some other data released in a blog post last week, suggests that it’s spent over $2 million, on average, per gTLD.

CEO Paul Stahura wrote that the company has participated in “roughly” 50 auctions and that it’s won more than 50% of those it’s participated in.

“We’ve spent $50M to win those auctions to secure the resulting TLDs,” Stahura wrote.

According to my numbers, Donuts has been in 45 auctions and won 23. I may be missing a couple, but the numbers fit with Stahura’s. That would make an average spend of $2.17 million per gTLD.

That doesn’t mean the company has burnt through $50 million of its funding, of course.

In private gTLD auctions, the winner pays the losers. By losing at least 22 auctions, Donuts could just as easily be breaking even.

Not all of Donuts’ auctions have been organized by Applicant Auction. A few were settled via other means. Applicant Auction takes a 4% cut, which means its take so far is approaching $2 million.

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