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.hiv reserve set at $200,000, revenue so far $83,000

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2015, Domain Registries

The soon-to-be-auctioned new gTLD .hiv has a reserve price of $200,000, but the registry reckons it’s worth as much as $700,000.

That’s according to auction documents provided by dotHIV Registry to DI today.

The documents also reveal that .hiv has made a profit revenue of $83,000 in its first seven months.

UPDATE: Germany-based dotHIV says now that the reference to “net income” in its prospectus was a translation error. The $83,000 refers to revenue — the top line, not the bottom line. The company intends to update its auction documents “instantly”.

Earlier today we reported that the gTLD is to go under the hammer with Innovative Auctions on June 3/4.

We reported that the gTLD had about 2,000 registrations, but it turns out that number includes about 1,700 registry-reserved names.

The actual number, as of March 31, is 410, of which 345 pay the $179 annual registry fee. Another 63 domains were given away for free to HIV charities for a three-year period.

While this generated a net income revenue of $83,000, registry CEO Carolin Silbernagl confirmed to DI that its contract with ICANN is supposed to require “all” of its profits to be donated to HIV causes.

According to the documents:

Public Interest Commitment binds the TLD to non-profit operations. All excess profit, after the deduction of all thinkable costs and investments, is to be donated to a charitable cause of the owner’s choice.

We have founded and built the .hiv TLD as a tool for positive social impact. To safeguard this vision, the voluntary PIC in the .hiv Registry Agreement binds the owner to invest all excess profit in the projects that support the fight against AIDS.

All this comes at no risk for the registry: Operational costs are covered first. No one expects you to donate if there is no surplus. Costs include the purchase price of the TLD in this auction.

The registry’s documents affirm that the key reason to buy .hiv would be to boost your public image due to “corporate social responsibility”.

The buyer would also get free marketing support from the German ad agency thjnk and free data escrow from NCC Group until July 2017, along with a bunch of software dotHIV uses to manage the TLD.

According to dotHIV, there were 14,000 pre-registrations with registrars prior to launch. Most balked at the high registration fee and did not convert into buyers.

The registry says the new owner could capitalize on some of this interest, growing volumes, by reducing its registry fee.

There are 47 registrars accredited to sell .hiv domains, including Go Daddy.

Premium names sold so far, for between $1,500 and $5,000, include: treat.hiv, test.hiv, cure.hiv, prevent.hiv, magazin.hiv, hivanswers.hiv, prävention.hiv, prep.hiv, vorsorge.hiv.

If dotHIV makes a profit from selling the gTLD, it says it will donate it to HIV charities.

.hiv to auction with “no profiting” catch

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2015, Domain Registries

Don’t all rush to your checkbooks at once.

The live TLD .hiv is going to be among the next batch of new gTLDs auctioned off by Innovative Auctions, but the contract comes with a no-profit clause.

Innovative and dotHIV Registry announced the sale yesterday.

.hiv is an unsuccessful gTLD so far. It had just over 2,000 registered names at the end of 2014, according to registry reports, but never more than 423 the names have been present in the DNS.

Registry CEO Carolin Silbernagl said:

In the eight months since our launch we have gained a lot of insight about what it needs to reach this. The reason why we are offering .hiv for sale is because we see how successful it can be. However, we realized that dotHIV is not the right vehicle for the next phase – the TLD needs a bigger and more international home to truly spread its wings.

It went to general availability last August, with an innovative but risky business model based around charitable micro-donations to HIV/AIDS causes.

Of the $200 annual retail fee, dotHIV put $120 into a pool reserved for charities. Every visit to a .hiv that was participating in a “Click Counter” service would cause a small amount of that money to actually be donated.

Judging by visits to a few .hiv domains this morning, just €862 — less than $1,000 — has been donated so far, based on fewer than 133,000 clicks.

This donation model is “just one of many possible uses” and not a contractual requirement, according to Silbernagl.

There is, however, a binding Public Interest Commitment that obliges the registry to give “all excess profits” to HIV causes. The PIC reads:

Registry Operator commits to implementing and performing the following protections for the TLD: Registry Operator, as a social enterprise, is driven by its sole mission to support the global HIV response. Therefore, Registry Operator will reinvest all excess profits in projects serving this mission.

Not it’s not exactly an attractive investment opportunity, in terms of pure cash ROI.

But Innovative said there’s another reason to buy: “Approaching .hiv as a corporate philanthropic engagement could have positive effects on public image and employee satisfaction for the buyer.”

.hiv is due to be part of the June 3/4 live gTLD auction, which also includes .promo.

As .stream is won, ICANN’s auction list empties

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2015, Domain Registries

.stream has become the latest new gTLD contention set to be settled prior to its ICANN auction, leaving ICANN’s auction schedule looking barren.

Famous Four Media beat Hughes Satellite Systems to the string, which was due to auction May 27.

The four strings scheduled for bidding April 29 — .living, .fun, .map and .search — were also recently settled.

All that remains on ICANN’s schedule is the controversial .game/.games contention set, which will employ a unique process designed for contention sets created by inconsistent singular/plural string confusion rulings.

The five .game applicants and one .games applicant (Donuts) are still due to hit the block May 20.

A couple dozen other gTLDs are still pending ICANN auction but do not have set dates due to various challenges and disputes.

Google wins .map and .search

Kevin Murphy, April 21, 2015, Domain Registries

Google has secured two gTLDs representing two of its core services.

The company has won .search and .map, fighting off competition from Amazon, Donuts, Famous Four Media for .search and Rightside and Amazon for .map.

All the losing bidders have now withdrawn their applications.

Both strings were due to head to ICANN auction April 29, but appear to have been settled privately instead.

That means the winning bids will not be disclosed.

Google plans to operate .map as an open gTLD in which anyone can register.

It had originally planned to keep .search domains limited to itself, until ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee and others complained about so-called “closed generics”.

Its updated .search application talks about restricting .search to sites that offer search functionality that adheres to a certain technical standard.

Specifically, domains in .search will have to follow a certain URL format (example.search/?q=query, the format used by Google itself) for queries.

It’s going to be very interesting how Google goes about implementing the plans in its application. We could be looking at some innovative or possibly controversial services.

Donuts bought .reise

Donuts has been confirmed by a German news site as the new owner of .reise, which was auctioned by its previous owner last week.

It was the first time a live gTLD had been sold at auction.

The deal, which is believed to have cost Donuts at least $400,000, means the company now owns .reise and .reisen.

Both mean “.travel”. According to my GCSE German skillz, last exercised 22 years ago, .reisen is a verb and .reise is a noun, but .reisen is also the plural of the noun .reise.

I believe this means that Donuts is the first company to own both the plural and singular forms of a new gTLD string.

Heise Online reports that former registry Dotreise was forced to sell up due to competition from Donuts.

Donuts’ .reisen has over 4,000 names in its zone file, compared to .reise’s 1,300. It’s a small market so far, but Donuts has the lion’s share.

The article notes that Donuts got a better position in ICANN’s prioritization draw in late 2012, meaning it got to market slightly earlier. Donuts also sells for a much lower price.

I doubt time to market was as much of a factor as price.

But it might be interesting to note that while Donuts’ advantage was just six days in terms of contract-signing, that lead had been extended to six weeks by the time .reise was delegated.

Donuts, which has more experience than any other company when it comes to the transition to delegation process, managed to hit general availability two weeks sooner than .reise, even though Donuts’ sunrise period was twice as long.