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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.

ROTD conducts first new gTLD auction as One.com wins .one

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Sales

Danish registrar One.com has won the .one contention set in the first private auction carried out by new gTLD consultancy Right Of The Dot.

One.com beat Radix, the United Arab Emirates-based portfolio applicant, to the string. Radix withdrew its application last week. The price has not been disclosed.

ROTD, Mike Berkens and Monte Cahn-managed company, has been competing with Applicant Auction for contention set resolution services and this is its first win.

The .one auction was carried out using a “single sealed bid second price” methodology, in which all participants privately submit a single bid and the winner pays the second-highest losing bid.

In this case, One.com will have paid Radix whatever bid Radix had put forward, with ROTD and escrow partner Escrow.com taking their fees from the winning bid.

Applicant Auction uses an “ascending clock” method, where bids are set in increments by the auctioneer over the space of several rounds, with bidders choosing to stay in or drop out in each round.

Cahn said in a press release: “Our Single Sealed Bid Second Price auction method protects the participants from ‘auction fever,’ which often causes over-bidding as people get emotionally tied to the process of winning at any cost due to time committed and sometimes throw their budgets out the window.”

First eight gTLDs have 26,000 names so far

Kevin Murphy, February 6, 2014, Domain Registries

Well, we now have a new gTLD domain name market.

After n years of debate, policy-making, delay, application, testing, delegation and newfangled launch processes, there are eight new gTLDs that are open for business.

Donuts yesterday opened up its first seven gTLDs to their ‘proper’ general availability — by which I mean landrush pricing is no longer applicable.

At more or less the same time its second seven — .lighting, .equipment, .graphics, .photography, .camera, .estate, and .gallery exited their sunrise periods and went into their Early Access Program.

Meanwhile, dotShabaka Registry’s شبكة. (“.web” in Arabic) came out of its more opaque landrush period with several hundred new registrations.

Together, these 15 gTLDs have 26,199 registrations so far, based on the names active in their zone files today. The eight fully live gTLDs have 25,575, almost half of which belong to Donuts’ .guru.

TLDDomains
guru12,394
bike3,727
clothing2,856
singles2,071
ventures1,669
plumbing1,081
holdings963
شبكة. (.xn--ngbc5azd)814
equipment137
lighting137
estate85
photography73
graphics68
camera62
gallery62

The zone files are generated at about 0100 UTC and therefore do not represent the full first day of Donuts newly-GA gTLDs, but it’s clear that .guru is the domainer’s favorite so far.

The numbers are a long way off pretty much every new TLD launch we’ve seen to date.

Compare to .mobi, which had over 110,000 names at the end of its first week; .co, which sold 216,159 in its first 16 hours; or .xxx, which sold 55,367 names on day one.

Even Radix said it sold 4,000 .pw names in its first three hours and 50,000 in the first three weeks.

It should also be pointed out that none of the Donuts gTLD numbers include purchases of Domain Protected Marks List blocks, which do not show up in zone files.

That fact eliminates much of the noise from defensive registrations that we see in almost every other TLD.

For buyers (as opposed to blockers) market conditions are obviously different now too — a single TLD launching was once an event, the temporary alleviation of scarcity, whereas today Donuts alone expects to launch half a dozen every week for months.

And the Latin strings that have been launched so far don’t exactly capture the imagination, with .guru the possible exception.

Donuts’ portfolio, in my view, is based more on securing greenfield opportunities in vertical markets (plumbing, cameras, etc) rather than mining domain investors’ wallets on launch day.

One of the keys to the success of these things longer term is going to be how much use they get — when internet users start visiting new gTLD sites and seeing new gTLD URLs on billboards, momentum will build.

Directi joins Domain.com family in $100m deal

Kevin Murphy, January 29, 2014, Domain Registrars

Endurance International, the holding company behind brands such as Domain.com and HostGator has closed the acquisition of top ten registrar Directi and some related companies.

The acquisition, which was announced last September is worth between $100 million and $110 million — $25.5 million in cash and the rest in shares and a promissory note.

The deal includes Directi properties BigRock (a registrar), ResellerClub (the reseller-focused registrar), LogicBoxes (the registrar management service) and webhosting.info.

It does not include Radix Registry, the company that applied for 31 new gTLDs, 28 of which applications are still active.

Directi CEO Bhavin Turakhia “has agreed to be closely involved in the integration of the two companies”, but it doesn’t sound like he’s taking on a permanent role at Endurance.

Endurance may not be a familiar brand in and of itself, but its businesses include Bluehost, HostGator, Domain.com, FatCow, iPage and Mojo Marketplace.

Donuts officially richer than God after winning three new gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, December 19, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts has a clear path to being awarded the .church, .life and .loans new gTLDs, following a private auction managed by Innovative Auctions this week.

Life Covenant Church and CompassRose.life have already withdrawn their applications for .church and .life respectively, and others are expected to follow soon.

Life Covenant Church, which does business at LifeChurch.tv, was described as the largest multi-site church in the US last year, with 46,000 regular attendees across 15 locations.

A lucrative business, no doubt. But apparently not lucrative enough to beat Donuts.

In the three-way contention set for .life, Donuts beat CompassRose.life, which seems to be affiliated with a Canadian housing developer and Xiamen 35.com Technology.

In .loans, which still faces Governmental Advisory Committee advice, Donuts beat fellow portfolio applicant Radix.

The losing applicants will all receive pay-offs from Donuts as a result of losing the auctions.

Innovative has now helped resolve 21 contention sets.

Applicants call for new gTLD objections appeals process

Kevin Murphy, November 6, 2013, Domain Policy

Twelve new gTLD applicants, representing many dozens of applications, have called on ICANN to create an appeals process for when Community Objections have debatable outcomes.

Writing to ICANN and the International Chamber of Commerce this week, the applicants focus on the recent decision in the .sport case, which they said proves that ICC panelists don’t fully understand the Community Objection policy as laid out in ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook.

The letter points to five “glaring errors” in the “fatally flawed” .sport decision, in which Olympics-backed applicant SportAccord prevailed over Famous Four Media’s competing application.

The signatories — which include Radix, United TLD, Donuts, Famous Four, TLDH and others — say that the ICC panelist simply assumed SportAccord represented the “sport” community and failed to pinpoint any “likelihood of material detriment” that would be caused by Famous Four’s .sport going ahead.

It seems to me that the latter arguments are much more well-founded.

While the letter tries to pick holes in the panelist’s finding that SportAccord represents enough of the “sport” community to be able to win the objection, the arguments are pretty tenuous.

The applicants use an definition of “community” found elsewhere in the Guidebook, for example, to attempt to show that the panelist failed to follow the guidelines for establishing a community in a Community Objection.

The panelist’s actual ruling uses the definition of “community” from the relevant part of the Guidebook and seems to follow it fairly closely. The applicants make a poor job of questioning his logic.

However, on “detriment”, the letter seems to be on much firmer ground.

It argues that the panelist deliberately lowered the bar from “likelihood of material detriment” to “possibility of material detriment” in order to hand SportAccord a victory.

The letter states:

If the Expert’s current logic is followed, every application, including the Objector’s own application, creates “possible” damage. In this case, an allegation of material detriment against any application would be upheld because there is future “possible” damage.

It also makes reference to the fact that the panelist appears to in many cases have been weighing the Famous Four application against SportAccord’s, which was not his job.

It reads in part: “The Expert did not identify a single objectionable or lacking aspect in the application that creates a likelihood of material detriment.”

The applicants call on ICANN to immediately create an appeals mechanism for Community Objections, and to ensure that ICC panelists are given training before making any more decisions.

Here’s the full list of signatories: Radix, United TLD, DotClub Domains, Top Level Design, Donuts, Top Level Domain Holdings, Priver Nivel, Fegistry, Employ Media, Famous Four Media, Merchant Law Group, DotStrategy.

TLDH raises $5 million from gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, October 25, 2013, Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings made almost $5 million by losing auctions for the .lawyer and .website gTLDs this week, according to the company.

The London-listed company told the markets today that it has added £2.97 million ($4.81 million) to its coffers as a result of the auctions, in which Radix won .website and Donuts won .lawyer.

The number is net of the 4% cut taken by Innovative, which conducted the auctions, and the two $65,000 refunds TLDH will receive from ICANN when it withdraws the applications.

Some portion of the $4.8 million TLDH will have received from Donuts, where .lawyer was a two-horse race.

Radix’s winning bid for .website will have been split evenly between TLDH and Donuts.

At least one of these TLDs seems to have sold for significantly more than the average private auction selling price, which was $1.33 million after the first 14 Innovative auctions.

Innovative has managed auctions for 18 strings, but we don’t know the total price of the latest four.

The .website and .lawyer deals means TLDH now has £10.1 million ($16.3 million) in cash reserves, according to a company press release.

It still has 43 contested applications, however. On a $16 million budget — quite a lot less than some of its portfolio rivals — the company is going to have to make some smart tactical moves to maximize its gTLD portfolio.

“Our strategy remains to best monetise those applications where we see least value so that we can maximise our ability to acquire those names in which we see greatest value,” chairman Fred Krueger said in the press release.

It still has stakes in 25 uncontested gTLDs.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story contained inaccurate statements — failing to take into account that .website was a three-way contest — about the average selling price of new gTLDs at auction.

Donuts wins three new gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, October 24, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts has added .lawyer, .fish and .discount to its portfolio of new gTLDs, having won private auctions against its competitors for the strings this week.

It beat Top Level Domain Holdings for .lawyer and WhatBox for .fish and .discount, according to a blog post from Innovative Auctions, which managed the auction.

The winning bids were, as usual, not disclosed. The losing bidders receive most of the cash the winning bidder was willing to pay.

The three auctions were part of a surprisingly small batch that included .website, where Radix beat TLDH yesterday. Innovative says it has settled 18 contention sets to date.

The gTLD strings .discount and .lawyer are still subject to Governmental Advisory Committee “Category 1” advice, meaning the GAC wants them to be regulated for consumer protection reasons.