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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.

Millions spent on new gTLDs as 11 auctions settled

Kevin Murphy, April 30, 2014, Domain Registries

New gTLD portfolio applicants settled at least 11 new gTLD contention sets last week, sharing the spoils of a private auction that looks to have totaled seven figures in sales.

Applicant Auction carried out auctions for 13 contested strings last week, which I believe lasted at least three days.

I’ve been able to determine that Donuts won six sets, Uniregistry won three and Minds + Machines won two. Radix seems to have lost at least five auctions, walking away with a great big pile of cash instead.

.hosting — Uniregistry won after Radix (which owns .host) withdrew.

.click — Uniregistry beat Radix.

.property — Uniregistry won after withdrawals from M+M and Donuts.

.yoga — M+M won, beating Donuts and Uniregistry.

.garden — M+M beat Donuts and Uniregistry again.

.娱乐 — Donuts won this string (Chinese for “.entertainment”) after Morden Media withdrew.

.deals — Donuts beat M+M and Radix.

.city — Donuts beat TLD Registry and Radix.

.forsale — Donuts beat DERForsale.

.world — Donuts beat Radix.

.band — Donuts beat What Box?

Minds + Machines disclosed this morning that the four auctions in which it was involved cost it $5.97 million.

It’s not possible to work out how much .garden and .yoga cost the company; the $5.97 million figure is net of the money it won by losing .property and .deals, ICANN refunds and auctioneer commissions.

However, it seems reasonable to assume that the average price of a gTLD, even not particularly attractive ones (.garden? Really?), has sharply risen from the $1.33 million I calculated from the first 14 auctions.

In January, M+M raised roughly $33.6 million for auctions with a private share placement. The company is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market.

The company said it now has an interest in 28 uncontested applications.

Also today, the Canadian Real Estate Association withdrew its Community application for .mls, but this is not believed to be related to the auctions. It has a non-Community application for the same string remaining.

ARI and Radix split on all new gTLD bids

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2014, Domain Registries

Radix no longer plans to use ARI Registry Services for any of its new gTLDs, I’ve learned.

The company has already publicly revealed that CentralNic is to be its back-end registry services provider for .space, .host, .website and .press, but multiple reliable sources say the deal extends to its other 23 applications too.

I gather that the split with ARI wasn’t entirely amicable and had money at its root, but I’m a bit fuzzy on the specifics.

The four announced switches are the only four currently uncontested strings Radix has applied for.

Of Radix’s remaining active applications, the company has only so far submitted a change request to ICANN — which I gather is a very expensive process — on one, .online.

For the other 22, ARI is still listed as the back-end provider in the applications, which have all passed evaluation.

Radix is presumably waiting until after its contention sets get settled before it goes to the expense of submitting change requests.

CentralNic kicks out ARI as back-end for four new Radix gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, March 23, 2014, Domain Registries

CentralNic has replaced ARI Registry Services as the exclusive back-end registry services provider for four new gTLDs.

Radix, the new gTLD portfolio applicant formerly affiliated with Directi, will use CentralNic “exclusively” for .press, .host, .website and .space, according to a press release this morning.

ARI was originally listed on Radix’s applications as the technical services provider for all four, but as a result of change requests submitted in January ARI is out and CentralNic is in.

All four were either originally uncontested strings or have since been won by Radix at auction.

The news of the switch follows the announcement last month that CentralNic has also become a “preferred” back-end for portfolio applicant Famous Four Media, alongside ARI and Neustar.