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.

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Turkey blocks Google DNS in Twitter crackdown

Kevin Murphy, March 23, 2014, Domain Policy

The Turkish government has reportedly blocked access to Google’s public DNS service from with its borders, as part of its recently instituted censorship of Twitter.

According to local reports, the IP addresses 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 — Google’s public DNS servers — were banned after they became widely used to circumnavigate blocks on Twitter’s domain names.

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week vowed to “wipe out” Twitter, after the company refused to take down tweets criticizing his government over corruption allegations ahead of an election next week.

Twitter is encouraging Turkish users to use SMS to send tweets instead. Many Turks are also turning to VPNs to evade this bizarre piece of Draconian censorship.

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First IDN gTLD auction raises $181,000

Kevin Murphy, March 21, 2014, Domain Sales

TLD Registry today raised over $181,000 in “premium” Chinese IDN domain names.

A live/online auction coordinated by Sedo and held at the China Rouge members’ club here in Macau saw 39 lots go under the hammer, 33 of which managed to raise at least the $2,000 minimum bid.

All the names were in .在线 (“.online”), of two Chinese IDN gTLDs TLD Registry launched this week.

Each lot contained multiple names.

In all cases the ASCII transliteration, or Pinyin, was thrown in. Some lots also contained conceptually related names. So the winner of “casino”.在线 also won “gambling”.在线.

Buyers will presumably be able to split the bundles for resale.

The lot with the highest bid at the end of the day was a collection of domains related to “gaming”, which sold for $25,388. Second was a “casino” bundle, which fetched $25,000

.CLUB Domains CEO Colin Campbell spent $7,100 on “club”.在线 and related terms.

Here’s the full list of auction results. Apologies to my Chinese readers, but I don’t have a Chinese keyboard nor a source document to copy and paste the actual names that were sold.

LotWinning Bid (USD)
TOTAL$181,714
make money2500
Go (the game)2000
pay2250
dinner2000
tall, handsome and rich2100
club7100
cosmetics2200
bitcoin14388
casino25000
go to Hong Kong2000
bookkeeping2000
watch TV2000
reunion0
United Kingdom2550
personal homepage0
domain investing2500
discount4100
buy and sell3100
study English2250
maintaining your health2000
I love you2000
babysitting0
I want to eat2000
diet network2000
furniture2800
real estate16000
hot/popular2000
new cars2000
learn about wine0
luxury watches6400
travel and weather0
sell5588
hot search terms2400
loans7500
delivery information0
rent15500
financing2000
gaming25388
trademark6100

DISCLOSURE: I attended most of the auction and moderated a panel discussion during the lunch break. TLD Registry paid for my airfare and accommodation.

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Neustar pays $109 million for .CO Internet

Kevin Murphy, March 20, 2014, Domain Registries

Four years after relaunching the Colombian ccTLD .co as a global top-level domain, .CO Internet has been acquired by its long-time partner Neustar for $109 million.

The .co registry will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Neustrar, which already runs .biz and .us, following the close of the deal.

.CO recorded revenue of $21 million in 2013, of which Neustar took $4 million as its back-end registry provider, according to Neustar.

The .co zone currently stands at about 1.6 million names, according to the companies. That seems to mean it added roughly 200,000 net new names in 2013, judging by its 2012 numbers.

The company relaunched .co in 2010, having jointly bid with Neustar for a Colombian government contract.

It was the last truly impressive TLD launch, with 200,000 registrations on day one and over 1 million in its first year.

While the space is still stuffed with speculators, unlike some other TLDs .co is also widely, visibly used by its intended audience — start-ups and entrepreneurs.

.CO is known primarily for its marketing acumen — some new gTLD registries could learn a thing or two — which Neustar CEO Lisa Hook raised as a selling point in today’s press release:

By combining .CO Internet’s innovative domain marketing capabilities with Neustar’s distribution network and technical resources, we will be able to broaden our registry services and the .co brand worldwide, while creating shareholder value.

Neustar expects the deal to close within a month.

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First ICANN gTLD auction slated for June 4

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2014, Domain Policy

ICANN has published a preliminary schedule for its first new gTLD contention set auctions, which would see the first batch hit the block on June 4 this year.

The plan is now to sell off roughly 20 strings every month, with the last lot going under the hammer in March 2015, a full year from now.

Each contention set, of which there are 233, has been allocated to a batch, ordered by the applicants with the best position in the prioritization queue governing all aspects of the new gTLD program.

But each batch is filled with sets that have either already been resolved or which are currently “ineligible” for auction for one reason or another.

Ineligible contention sets are those that include an application that has, for example, an outstanding change request or a piece of unresolved Governmental Advisory Committee advice.

For example, the 12 applications for .app are scheduled for a July auction, but none of them are going anywhere until the GAC advice against the string goes away.

Naturally enough, ICANN says it’s a preliminary schedule that is subject to a lot of change.

Applicants in contention sets may nevertheless draw comfort from the fact that these auctions finally seem to have firm dates. The auctions were originally slated to start this month.

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