London’s Alternative Investment Market is fast becoming the stock market of choice for new gTLD registries, with .info mainstay Afilias today announcing an upcoming IPO.
The Ireland-based company hopes to raise $100 million by selling off about 30% of the company, giving it a growth war-chest and giving its investors a shot at getting some of their money back.
Afilias earmarked part of the expected windfall for new gTLD auctions, as well as acquisitions of new gTLD “assets” and operational registries and expansion of its registrar business.
Executive chairman Jonathan Robinson said in a statement:
The Placing will bring significant benefits – by providing further capital to fund our organic and acquisitive growth plans, and raising our corporate profile with existing and new customers.
In addition to .info, .mobi and .pro, Afilias is associated with 254 new gTLD applications either as applicant or back-end provider. As registry, it already has about a dozen 2012-round gTLDs in the root.
The company’s revenue for 2013 was $77.6 million, up from $74.5 million in 2012. Earnings before deductions were $38.6 million in 2013, up from $32.1 million in 2012.
Fellow gTLD registries CentralNic and Minds + Machines are also listed on AIM.
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.
DotGreen Community, a popular but unsuccessful applicant for the .green gTLD, has been resurrected to manage the marketing for the successful applicant, Afilias.
It appears that Afilias, which won .green at auction against two other applicants in late February, is essentially outsourcing the marketing of .green to DotGreen.
DotGreen withdrew its bid last October, citing the high cost of the looming auction.
DotGreen’s plan for the TLD, had it won, was to distribute some of its profits to worthy environmental causes, and that plan seems to have been brought back from the dead too.
According to a press release:
DotGreen brings additional partnerships with EarthShare, a federation comprised of the world’s leading environmental and conservation charities; and The DotGreen Foundation, a California Non-profit, 501 (c)3 Public Charity. These organizations will work together to distribute a percentage of the proceeds collected from the sales of the .green domain names to programs that work towards the advancement of sustainability worldwide.
It appears to be a unique, first-of-its-kind relationship in the new gTLD space.
Afilias remains the contracted party and will continue to run the technical infrastructure of the registry, but the heavy-lifting of actually marketing the names falls on DotGreen.
Given that DotGreen spent quite a lot of time in the run-up to the new gTLD application process building relationships with environmental groups, this could be an incredibly shrewd move by Afilias.
Afilias has not yet revealed its sunrise or general availability launch dates for .green, which was delegated in June.
Minds + Machines’ first day of general availability for its first six wholly owned new gTLDs has produced some very disappointing numbers.
The company managed to net just 1,694 new domains across .country, .cooking, .vodka, .rodeo, .horse and .fishing combined yesterday, according to this morning’s zone files.
It has fewer than 2,000 names across all six zones.
Meanwhile, .vegas, which also went to GA yesterday, managed to net 2,933 new domains, ending the day at 3,903.
Here’s a table of M+M’s performance over its first seven or eight hours of GA, which began at 1600 UTC yesterday.
|Net Gain||Total Domains|
Assuming the zone files are fresh, it’s a poor first day for the company whichever way you look at it, especially given that M+M has been accepting pre-registrations in its TLDs since November 2013.
As well as being vertically integrated, M+M has about 80 third-party registrars on board to sell its names, including the largest.
Afilias’ .organic, which also went to GA yesterday, shows just one new registration today.
However, this can be attributed to the fact that registrants need to submit credentials for manual verification before their new domains are allowed to go live in the zone file.
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.