Donuts buys out rival .place gTLD applicant

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts has won the .place new gTLD contention set after paying off rival applicant 1589757 Alberta Ltd.

The deal, for an undisclosed sum, was another “cut and choose” affair, similar to deals made with Tucows last August, in which the Canadian company named its price to withdraw and Donuts chose to pay it rather than taking the money itself.

1589757 Alberta has withdrawn its application for .place already.

The deal means Donuts now has 165 new gTLDs that are either live, contracted or uncontested.

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.

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.

Uniregistry doing private new gTLD auctions? Company deals with Donuts on five strings

Kevin Murphy, February 21, 2014, Domain Registries

Uniregistry and Donuts have settled at least five new gTLD contention sets this week, raising the question of whether Uniregistry has reversed its objection to private auctions.

I think it has.

In five of the six head-to-head contention sets between the two companies, Donuts has won the rights to .furniture, .auction and .gratis, and Uniregistry has won .audio and .juegos.

The losing company has already withdrawn their applications in all five cases.

I gather that a deal was made, but Uniregistry won’t say whether it was via a private auction or not and I’ve not yet had a reply to a request for comment from Donuts.

The withdrawals come the same week as Applicant Auction was scheduled to conduct its latest private auction for new gTLD contention sets. The auction was slated for February 18.

But Uniregistry, which has previously spoken out against the private auction concept — saying it raises antitrust concerns — declined to confirm or deny whether these five contests were resolved by auction.

“We’re grateful to have found a way through the impasse and resolved the contention,” was all Uniregistry CEO Frank Schilling would say.

Applicant Auction’s project director Sheel Mohnot confirmed that a new gTLD auction took place this week but said he could not disclose the participants or the strings.

To the best of my knowledge, that’s a new line — the auctioneer has always kept quiet about sales prices in the past, but has always revealed which companies were involved.

So has Uniregistry changed its mind about the legality of private new gTLD auctions? My guess is: “Yes.”

The only remaining string where the two companies are competing in a two-horse race is .shopping, according to the DI PRO database, but that’s subject to some weird string similarity nonsense and probably not suitable for a private auction yet.

TLDH raises $33.6m to fight new gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, January 31, 2014, Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings has raised £21 million with an institutional investor share placement to help it win some new gTLD contention set auctions.

Its total war chest following the $33.6 million-ish placement will be about $63 million, albeit with $15 million of that earmarked for a single, as-yet-unspecified auction.

The company is currently in 43 contention sets, most of which it apparently wants to resolve via private auction. TLDH said in a statement:

The Company believes private auctions provide a significant opportunity for the Company both to increase the number of high-value gTLDs within its portfolio and to generate cash from those gTLDs which it chooses to relinquish. Under the private auction process, the winning bid is divided equally and paid to the losing applicants net of the auctioneer’s fees.

As part of TLDH’s transition from a revenue-free penny stock to a trading company, it’s going to change its name to Minds + Machines Limited, via a reverse takeover of its subsidiary of the same name.

The company said the move will help with “stakeholder communications and branding”.

Finally, TLDH said that founding director Guy Elliott is to leave its board of directors and be replaced by new non-executive director Elliot Noss. Noss is of course CEO of rival registry/registrar Tucows.