Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Another 11 new gTLDs won at auction

Kevin Murphy, November 12, 2014, Domain Registries

It’s been a busy week for new gTLD application withdrawals, with no fewer than 11 contention sets getting settled over the last few days.

First, as predicted, Radix won .online, after I-Registry withdrew the last remaining competing application, but only with a little help from its friends.

Radix is to form a new joint venture with Tucows and NameCheap to run .online. Each company threw in $4 million to $5 million to cover the cost of the auction and seed funding for the yet-to-be-formed new registry entity.

Another auction saw .site also won by Radix, as a standalone applicant, after withdrawals from Interlink, M+M, Google and Donuts.

.dog went to Donuts after withdrawals from Minds + Machines and Google. Donuts also won .live, after an earlier withdrawal from Microsoft and one this week from Google.

The hotly contested .cloud went to Aruba after withdrawals from M+M, Symantec, Amazon, Google, CloudNames and Donuts.

.boats was won by DERboats after Donuts withdrew.

.book has gone to Amazon, after withdrawals from R.R. Bowker, Famous Four Media, Donuts, DotBook, M+M, Global Domain Registry, Google and NU DOT CO.

Amazon also won .hot, after Donuts and dotHot (affiliated with .jobs) withdrew.

Dish DBS, a Spanish-language US TV company, will operate .latino as a closed dot-brand for its Dish Latino service, after M+M withdrew its competing application.

Japanese domain registrar Interlink won .earth, beating Google.

Motion Picture Domain Registry beat Donuts and Google to .film, meaning the gTLD will “will only be available to film producers and major film studios” under the applicant’s plan to require a Motion Picture Association of America registration number in order to register a name.

Battles for .chat, .style, .tennis, bingo and .sas over

Kevin Murphy, November 6, 2014, Domain Registries

Seven new gTLD contention sets have been formally resolved with application withdrawals this morning, five of which we haven’t previously reported on.

Most appear to have been settled by private auctions, with Donuts often the victor.

The standout, however, is .sas, an unusual case of a contention set of two would-be dot-brand registries being resolved.

The business software maker SAS Institute, which applied as Research IP, has prevailed over the Scandinavian airline holding company SAS AB for the .sas gTLD.

Both applicants had applied for closed, single-registrant namespaces.

On the regular, open gTLD front, .chat has gone to Donuts after withdrawals from Top Level Spectrum, Radix and Famous Four Media.

.style has also gone to Donuts, after Uniregistry, Top Level Design, Evolving Style Registry and Minds + Machines withdrew their applications.

.tennis is another Donuts win. Applications from Famous Four, Washington Team Tennis and Tennis Australia have been withdrawn, after a failed Community bid from Tennis Australia.

Donuts, finally, beat Famous Four to .bingo.

Afilias and Top Level Spectrum have officially withdrawn their .wine applications. As we reported earlier this week, this leaves Donuts as the sole remaining applicant.

Top Level Spectrum’s bid for .sucks has also been withdrawn, confirming DI’s report from earlier this week that the controversial gTLD has been won by Vox Populi Registry.

But Donuts failed to win .online, withdrawing its application today. Only two applicants — Radix and I-Registry — remain in this once six-way contention set.

We’ll know the winner (my money’s on Radix) in a matter of days, I expect.

Afilias loses Chinese .info as seven more new gTLD auctions conclude

Kevin Murphy, September 24, 2014, Domain Registries

Today news has reached us via various channels that seven new gTLD contention sets have been settled, all is seems via private auction.

Notably, Afilias has lost the opportunity to run the Chinese-script version of its 14-year-old .info TLD to Beijing Tele-info Network Technology Co, the only other applicant.

The Beijing company’s application says the string .信息 means: “knowledge or message in the form suitable for communications, storage, or processing, which is closely related to notions of form, meaning, pattern, perception, representation, and entropy.”

Afilias said it means “info”.

Separately, in a press release today, Minds + Machines said that it has won the auctions for two gTLDs — .law and .vip — and lost the auctions for several more.

In .law it beat NU DOT CO, Donuts, Radix, Merchant Law Group and Famous Four Media. In .vip it beat Google, VIP Registry, Donuts, I-Registry and Vipspace Enterprises.

From the auctions M+M said it lost we can infer that .design and .realestate contention sets are also now settled, but we haven’t seen any withdrawals yet so we don’t know the winners.

M+M said it netted $6.2 million cash by winning .law and .vip and losing .design, .flowers, .group, .realestate and .video.

From today’s new withdrawals we can see that Uniregistry won .auto against Fegistry, Donuts and Dot Auto, while Donuts won .memorial against Afilias and dotCOOL.

UPDATE: Thanks to Jim in the comments for the reminder that the “Chinese .info” auction happened back in June. The TLD fetched $600,000 at an ICANN last-resort auction.

Which made more money — .website, .press or .host?

Kevin Murphy, September 19, 2014, Domain Registries

Radix Registry launched its first three new gTLDs yesterday, and the first day’s numbers make an interesting case study in how difficult it can be to judge the health of a TLD.

Based on zone file numbers, .website was the clear winner. It had 6,340 names in its zone at the end of the day, compared to .host’s 778 and .press’s 801.

There’s clearly more demand for .website names right now.

But which made the most money? That’s actually a lot harder to figure out.

To make those calculations accurately, you’d need to know a) Radix’s base registry fee, b) the promotional discounts it applied for the launch c) which premium names sold and d) for how much.

None of that information is publicly available.

If we were to use Go Daddy’s base retail pricing as a proxy guide, .host was hypothetically the biggest money-spinner yesterday. At $129.99 a year, it would have made $101,132.

Because .website only costs $14.99 at Go Daddy, it would have only made $95,037, even though it sold thousands more names.

But Radix offered registrars what appears to be steep discounts for the launch. Go Daddy marked down its .host names from $129.99 to $49.99. That would make revenue of $38,892, less than half of .website.

With the discounts in mind, .host didn’t have as good a day from a cash-flow perspective as .website, but it arguably looks healthier from a long-term revenue perspective.

That’s all based on the snapshot of today’s zone files and an obviously incorrect assumption that Go Daddy sold all the names, of course.

Complicating matters further are the premium names.

Radix has priced a lot of its names with premium renewal fees and Radix business head Sandeep Ramchandani said that the company sold five five-figure premium names across all three gTLDs.

Given the relatively small amount of money we’re talking about, those five sales would have significantly impacted the three new gTLD’s relative revenue.

.website gets 6,500 regs in first four hours

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

The new gTLD .website got over 6,500 registrations in the first four hours of general availability, according to Radix Registry.

The TLD has been characterized as the first exciting, properly generic English-language new gTLD to launch.

With that in mind, one wonders whether 6,500 is a great start.

Bear in mind that .website has commodity .com pricing ($14.99 or thereabouts retail) and that Radix offered its registrars a promotional discount for the launch — 6,500 names does not equal a lot of money.

But it’s still early days (hours), and we don’t know how many of the registered names carry premium prices.

Radix’s premium names renew annually at the premium prices, as we’ve seen previously with gTLDs from the likes of Donuts, Uniregistry and Minds + Machines.

.website went to GA at 1600 UTC today, having been delayed 24 hours by a pricing glitch.

Radix has been conducting a sweepstakes on Twitter all day to guess the number of day-one registrations in .website. The prize is a Go Pro camera.

Based on nothing more than gut instinct, I went for 9,888, thinking I was probably erring slightly on the low side.

Radix delay blamed on promo pricing

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

Radix Registry’s first three new gTLD launches have been delayed for 24 hours after registrars experienced problems with promotional pricing.

.website, .host and .press will now go to general availability at 1600 UTC today.

Radix business head Sandeep Ramchandani said that some registrars were not expecting the registry to quote discounted fees at point of purchase; they were expecting a rebate at a later date instead.

This caused problems during pre-launch testing, he said, which led to the decision to delay.

The problem was resolved not too long after yesterday’s 1600 launch deadline, but it was decided to hold off on GA for a full 24 hours.

Yeehaw! Bumper crop of new gTLD launches

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2014, Domain Registries

There’s a definite wild west flavor to today’s crop of new gTLD launches, in a week which sees no fewer than 16 strings hit general availability.

Kicking off the week, today Minds + Machines brings its first wholly-owned TLDs to market.

Following the successful launch of .london, for which M+M acts as the back-end, last week, today we see the launch of the less exciting .cooking, .country, .fishing, .horse, .rodeo, and .vodka.

Afilias’ rural-themed .organic also goes to GA today.

As does .vegas, an oddity in the geo-gTLD space as it’s a city pretty much synonymous with one vertical market, gambling. Or three vertical markets, if you include booze and prostitution.

.vegas names do not require a local presence, so I’m expecting to see gambling businesses the world over attempt to capitalize on the Vegas brand regardless of their location.

A second batch of launches is due on Wednesday September 17.

Sticking with the wild west theme, RightSide’s .republican is due to go first-come, first-served.

With a somewhat more eastern flavor, Radix Registry’s first new gTLDs — .website, .press and .host — all hit GA on the same day.

Donuts’ .loans, .life, .guide and .church all enter their standard-pricing phases, while .place and .direct enter their premium-priced Early Access Period on Wednesday too.

Radix’s first gTLD landrushes only risk-free if you shop around

Kevin Murphy, August 27, 2014, Domain Registries

Radix Registry has gone into landrush with its first new gTLDs, promising a “risk-free” experience for buyers who want to get into .website, .press and .host early.

But different registrars are handling the phase in different ways — with a staggering range of prices — so you could still lose money on domains you don’t get unless you shop around.

Business head Sandeep Ramchandani confirmed that while Radix does not have any nonrefundable components at the registry end, it’s up to the individual registrars to decide whether to follow suit.

Radix has set up a microsite to help would-be registrants compare prices and find a registrar with a refundable fee.

It’s a useful tool, because prices vary wildly by registrar.

For .website, the lowest-cost of the three gTLDs, you’ll probably want to avoid Go Daddy. Its “priority pre-registration” service costs a whopping $174.98 for a bog-standard domain, compared to landrush fees around the $40 mark at all the other listed registrars.

General availability pricing for .website appears to be in line with .com, with Name.com and Go Daddy both listing GA domains at $14.99.

.press and .host, which cater to rather more niche markets, have correspondingly higher base pricing. Both will hit GA with pricing ranging from $100 to $130, it seems.

To apply for names in either during landrush you can expect to pay between $250 and $360, depending on registrar.

You’re also going to have a harder time finding a registrar that will refund landrush fees in .press and .host; Radix currently lists four registrars doing this for .press and only two for .host.

For premium names, Radix is going the now fairly industry standard route of charging premium fees on renewals as well as the initial registration.

investing.website will set you back $3,125 a year at Name.com, for example, while whiskey.website will cost $312.50 a year.

Go Daddy is not yet carrying Radix premium names.

Some names have five-figure renewal fees attached, Ramchandani said.

But he added that Radix has only set aside “a few hundred” premium names in each of the three TLDs, a much lower number than most previous new gTLD launches.

The idea is to get domains out there and in the hands of users, he said.

The new microsite also carries a few downloadable spreadsheets of supposedly attractive names that are available at the basic, non-premium registration fee.

Seasoned domain investors might find some bargains there (assuming they don’t go to landrush auction), but there are also some oddities.

Is wellnessfinder.website worthy of a recommendation, just because the domain+website wellnessfinder.com sold for €300,000 in 2011?

And to what possible use could you put a vagina.press? I shudder to think…

Amazon and Google deal on .talk, .play, .drive and others

Google and Amazon have started making deals to settle their new gTLD contention sets.

Google won three contention sets against Amazon this week, judging by the latest withdrawals, while Amazon won two.

Amazon won .talk and .you after Google, the only other applicant, withdrew.

Neither company appears to have a “You” brand, unless you count YouTube, but the .talk settlement strongly suggests that Google Talk, the company’s instant messaging client, is on the way out.

When Google applied for .talk in 2012 it intended to give Talk users custom domains to act as a contact point, but in 2013 Google started to indicate that it will be replaced as a brand by Google Hangouts.

The withdrawal seems to suggest that the existence of a gTLD application, a relatively small investment, is not an overwhelming factor when companies consider product rebranding.

I wonder what effect a live, active TLD will have on similar decisions in future.

But Google won the two-horse races for .dev and .drive and after Amazon withdrew its applications.

Google has a product called Google Drive, while Amazon runs Amazon Cloud Drive. Both companies have developer programs, though Google’s is arguably the more substantial of the two.

Google has also won .play — Google Play is its app store — after Amazon, Radix and Star Registry’s withdrawals. Amazon does not have a Play brand.

Google has also withdrawn its application for .book, leaving six remaining applicants, including Amazon, in the contention set.

I don’t currently know whether these contention sets were settled privately or via a third-party auction.

.hotel avoids auction with CPE win

A new gTLD applicant backed by the hotel industry has won a Community Priority Evaluation, meaning it gets to automatically win the .hotel contention set without going to auction.

If the decision stands, no fewer than six rival applicants for the string — including the likes of Donuts, Radix, Famous Four and Minds + Machines — are going to have to withdraw their applications.

It’s a bit of a shocker.

The CPE winner is HOTEL Top-Level-Domain, which scored 15 out of 16 available points in the CPE. The minimum required to vanquish all foes is 14 points.

The company will have spent a fair bit of cash fighting the CPE, but nothing compared to the millions of dollars an auction for .hotel would be likely to fetch.

Crucially, where HOTEL prevailed was on the “Nexus” criterion — demonstrating a link between the string and the community supporting the application — where four points are available.

In the first four CPE results to come through, back in March, each applicant scored a 0 on Nexus and none scored more than 11 points overall.

Dot Registry, which failed four CPEs (.inc, .llc, .corp and .llp) this week, also repeatedly flunked on this count.

HOTEL, however, scored a 3.

Rival applicants such as Donuts and M+M had argued that HOTEL’s stated community failed to take into account smaller hoteliers, such as bed and breakfast owners.

But the CPE panelist decided that the application did not “substantially overreach”:

The string nexus closely describes the community, without overreaching substantially beyond the community. The string identifies the name of the core community members (i.e. hotels and associations representing hotels). However, the community also includes some entities that are related to hotels, such as hotel marketing associations that represent hotels and hotel chains and which may not be automatically associated with the gTLD. However, these entities are considered to comprise only a small part of the community. Therefore, the string identifies the community, but does not over-reach substantially beyond the community, as the general public will generally associate the string with the community as defined by the applicant.

There’s no formal appeals mechanism for CPE, but rival applicants could try their luck with more general ICANN procedures such as Requests for Reconsideration.

HOTEL Top-Level-Domain is a Luxembourg-based entity, founded in 2008 to apply for the gTLD, backed by about a dozen international hotelier associations, including the International Hotel and Restaurant Association.

The IHRA counts 50 major hotel chain brands among its members and claims to be officially recognized by the UN for its lobbying work on behalf of the hospitality industry.

HOTEL intends to keep the .hotel gTLD restricted “initially” to only hotels as defined in the international standard ISO 18513.

Registrants will be verified against hotel industry databases. This will happen post-registration, but before the domain name can be activated in the DNS.

In other words, unless you’re a member of the hotel industry, you won’t be getting to use a .hotel domain name. Domainers are apparently not wanted.

All .hotel names will also be checked a year from registration to ensure that they have a web site displaying relevant content. Redirection to other TLDs may be allowed.

I was so convinced that the CPE was designed in such a way that it would be failed by all the applicants which had applied for it, I bet $50 (to go to an applicant-nominated charity) that none would.

If HOTEL wants to let me know which charity they want the $50 to go to, I’ll get it donated forthwith. I’m just glad I didn’t offer to eat my underwear.