Forty-four percent of major consumer brands plan to apply for dot-brand top-level domains, according to a survey carried out on behalf of Afilias.
The research, carried out in the UK and US by Vanson Bourne, found that only 82% companies were aware of their ability to participate in the the new gTLD program.
That’s a high number, but it still suggests that almost one in five companies are still completely oblivious about the program, despite months of media coverage and ICANN outreach.
Of those companies stating that they are aware of the program, 54% plan to apply and 40% are still thinking about it.
The survey covered 200 consumer-facing businesses with 3,000-10,000+ employees and was carried out in February.
The .co top-level domain may have more registrations, but more tech start-ups are opting for .me domain names, according to an informal study.
Doctoral student Thomas Park compiled a list of 1,000 start-ups added to TechCrunch’s CrunchBase database last year and found that entrepreneurs chose .co 1% of the time, versus 1.7% for .me.
As caveats, the difference between the two TLDs only works out to seven companies and .me, which launched in 2008, does of course have a two-year head start over .co.
I’m also guessing that CrunchBase has an English-language bias, which could skew the results. While .co has meaning in more countries it lacks the call-to-action punch of .me in English.
Nevertheless, I think the results are interesting because .CO Internet heavily targets start-ups in its marketing and currently has twice as many domains under management (over 1.1 million) as doMEn, the Afilias/Go Daddy joint-venture .me registry.
Park’s results show that .me had a 0.50% share in 2010 and a 0.80% share in 2009 while .co managed to get one company (0.10%) on the list during the half of 2010 it was live.
The survey found that .com is the runaway first choice for entrepreneurs, with about 85% of the start-up market, but you knew that already.
Minds + Machines has won governmental approval for its .bayern new gTLD application, according to the company.
The Bavarian state government has said it will back a bid for .bayern from Bayern Connect, which is majority-owned by M+M parent Top Level Domain Holdings, TLDH said today.
According to its press release, M+M will provide the back-end registry services, which strongly suggests that it does not plan to outsource to Neustar on this occasion.
Bayern Connect is not the only company to have announced a .bayern application, however.
Rival applicant PunktBayern, which is backed by United Domains and InterNetX among others, has been public about its plans for a couple of years too. Last year, it selected Afilias to provide its registry back-end.
If the Bavarian government is offering its exclusive support to Bayern Connect, as TLDH now says, it puts a serious question mark over the viability of the PunktBayern bid.
Under ICANN’s rules, any gTLD purporting to represent a state must secure the support or non-objection of the relevant government. Without that support, applications will be rejected.
PunktBayern does have a registered trademark on “.bayern”, however, so the tussle may not be quite over yet.
Bayern is the German name for Bavaria. The state has a population of about 12.5 million and quite a strong sense of its own identity.
It’s often referred to as the land of “laptops and lederhosen” due to a long-running government policy of friendliness to the tech industry.
Afilias has acquired .pro registry manager Registry Services Corporation, which does business as RegistryPro, for an undisclosed sum.
The deal will see .pro domain names migrate to Afilias’s back-end, bringing the number of TLDs the company supplies registry services for to 17, the largest of which is
It’s not yet clear whether the deal includes Zip.pro, a “local search” service operated by RegistryPro’s former parent Hostway using tens of thousands of self-owned zip code .pro domains.
(UPDATE: Afilias has confirmed that Zip.pro is staying with Hostway. The former owner of .pro is essentially now its biggest customer.)
Hostway bought RegistryPro in early 2004 shortly before .pro went live. The deal was somewhat controversial at the time.
Since May last year the company has been headed by CEO Karim Jiwani, a former Afilias executive. Jiwani will stay in place as president of RegistryPro, Afilias said.
While RegistryPro has been offering new gTLD back-end registry services since last June, the acquisition “is specifically in support of the .pro domain,” the Afilias spokesperson said.
The gTLD will be migrated to Afilias’ back-end infrastructure, he confirmed.
“A migration plan is being put into place,” the spokesperson said. “Current .pro customers will see no issues; the platform change will be invisible to them (and as easy as possible for registrars.)”
ICANN was told about the deal, but did not need to approve it because the corporate structure of RegistryPro has not changed, he said.
The .pro gTLD has about 45 registrars, though only four of them have taken more than 10,000 registrations. EnCirca, which signed up on day one, leads the pack with 13,000 domains.
However, Network Solutions and RU-Center came on board in 2008 and have been responsible for contributing most of the gTLD’s organic growth in the last few years.
Despite these modest improvements, .pro is still broadly considered very much an also-ran gTLD.
It had roughly 117,000 registered .pro domains at the last official count, but 43,000 of those are US zip codes registered by a shell company belonging to Hostway back in 2008.
It appears that this Zip.pro service is a similar concept to the Employ Media-backed Universe.jobs services – an exercise in mass domain development backed by the (former) registry itself.
At some point quite recently, some of these zip code domains have started going live with what could be loosely be described as “content”.
If you visit 94110.pro, for example, you’ll see a bunch of stuff about the Mission district in San Francisco, an old haunt of mine.
Kevin Wilson, who joined new gTLD consultancy Sedari as chief financial officer earlier this year, was fired in October and is now suing the company over a €100,000 investment deal gone bad.
Wilson, who spent four years as ICANN’s CFO, was one of a number of familiar domain name industry faces to join UK-based Sedari when it came out of stealth mode this summer.
But he was let go in October after falling out with CEO Liz Williams over financial matters.
Wilson claims that even as CFO he had to fight for access to Sedari’s financial records, and that when he finally questioned the company’s accounting he was terminated.
His termination letter said that Sedari had “very serious concerns” about his performance.
He had agreed to invest €100,000, in two €50,000 installments, and was fired shortly after deciding not to make the second payment, according to his legal complaint.
Wilson claims that he agreed to become an investor after being told about paying clients, including Cloud Registry, that he came to believe may not have existed.
He also alleges that “substantial sums” were taken from the company coffers by Williams for spa treatments and other personal expenditures.
The lawsuit alleges “fraud” on this basis, and seeks the return of Wilson’s initial €50,000 stake.
Wilson also wants the court to declare that, as a resident of California, he is not bound by the post-employment non-compete clauses of his contract.
He’s currently an independent new gTLDs consultant.
Sedari, through its solicitor Faegre & Benson, said in a statement:
Mr. Wilson has reneged on his legally binding obligations to Sedari both in relation to the payment by him of certain sums and his agreement not to act contrary to the best interest of the company. As a result, the Board has forfeited Mr. Wilson’s shares and taken further action to enforce its rights against him.
The statement notes that Sedari has not yet been formally served the complaint – which was filed in the Superior Court in Los Angeles on October 25 – adding:
In the event that Mr. Wilson proceeds with his complaint, it will be defended comprehensively.
The claim is devoid of merit, wrong in fact and all material allegations are rejected. Mr. Wilson will also be pursued for any further loss his actions may cause the alleged defendants.
Wilson said in a statement that he wants to “resolve matters amicably”.
According to exhibits filed with the lawsuit, Sedari’s other investors include Williams, with a majority 53.7% stake, as well as director Dennis Jennings and policy chief Philip Sheppard.
Registry services provider Afilias paid $375,000 for a 27.4% stake in the company, according to these documents. Its chairman, Philipp Grabensee, sits on the Sedari board.
Here’s the complaint.