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Who wants ICANN’s $60m gTLD windfall?

Kevin Murphy, September 9, 2015, Domain Policy

ICANN has opened a formal public comment period to move forward discussions on how it should spend the almost $60 million it has so far received in new gTLD auction proceeds.

It’s not yet looking for concrete suggestions on how to spend the money — this is a pre-consultation consultation — it’s only looking for comments on the principles that should be considered when discussions take place.

ICANN has so far raised $58.8 million from “last resort” new gTLD auctions. With 27 contention sets remaining, that number could go up if one or more applicants refuse to participate in private auctions.

The GNSO Council has been moving to create a Cross-Community Working Group to discuss how the money should be spent, but clashed briefly with the ICANN board, which has said it will make the ultimate decision, earlier this year.

The new paper (get it here) basically asks questions along the lines of: who should decide where the money goes? How should conflicts of interest be handled? How much third-party expert opinion should be solicited? How much say should the board have? How much outreach should there be?

Underpinning it all is the implicit problem that the longer, more detailed and more convoluted the process, the less money there will be to actually distribute at the end.

Knowing the ICANN community’s propensity for convolution, I wouldn’t be surprised if it managed to spunk the whole lot on expert advice, working group travel, lawsuits and coffee.

(Okay, I would actually be surprised, but you get my point).

The paper also includes links to about 20 spending suggestions that have been made in various public fora over the last couple of years.

Some ideas include: giving it back to the applicants, funding open source DNS software, reducing the new gTLD application fee, marketing new gTLDs to registrants, and donating it to charity.

It does not appear to be true that ICANN slipped in one of its own management’s suggestions in an attempt to funnel off new gTLD money into the unpopular NetMundial initiative, as has been alleged elsewhere today. The NetMundial suggestion referred to in the paper actually came from Danny Aerts of Swedish ccTLD manager IIS.

M+M gets $3.5m from two gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, August 27, 2015, Domain Sales

Minds + Machines secured loser fees totaling $3.5 million from its participation in .art and .data new gTLD auctions, the company disclosed today.

It seems .data was auctioned recently. It was a three-applicant string and none of the applicants have yet withdrawn their applications.

It seems either Donuts or brand applicant Dish DBS won the string.

The .art auction happened well over a month ago, with the final losing applicant withdrawing on July 23.

UK Creative Ideas won .art. Whatever it paid for the string would have been shared between nine competing applicants.

M+M also said that “strong interest” (presumably no sales yet) has been expressed in its $15,000+ “super premium” registry-reserved names, and that it has sold 20 premium names in its .london auction last month.

Another new gTLD up for sale with $750,000 reserve

Another new gTLD contract is hitting the market, with Dotversicherung-registry offering .versicherung at auction next month.

The August 26 auction, to be managed by RightOfTheDot and Heritage Auctions, has a $750,000 reserve.

The string is the German word for “insurance”. The gTLD launched 10 months ago.

“There are over 3,000 domain names registered to the German speaking insurance industry at 99 euro’s a year with virtually no advertising, marketing or promotion,” RightOfTheDot’s Monte Cahn said.

Retail prices range from 150 euros to 250 euros a year.

The registry has 10,000 reserved keyword domains that will pass to the buyer, according to RightOfTheDot.

Dot London auctioning 50 registry-owned premium names

Kevin Murphy, July 13, 2015, Domain Sales

Dot London is to auction off 50 premium .london domains over the next two weeks.

The names are all currently registry-owned, and include the likes of, and The full list can be viewed here.

The auctions are scheduled to end on July 30 and all have £100 ($155) starting bids.

According to the registry, it has sold over 3,000 names from its premium list since its launch last year. Some live examples include and

The .london gTLD has a tad over 63,000 names in its zone file today.

Donuts: glitch revealed price we would pay for gTLDs

The recently discovered security vulnerability in one of ICANN’s web sites revealed how much Donuts was willing to pay for contested gTLDs at auction.

This worrying claim emerged during a meeting between registries and the ICANN board of directors at ICANN 53 in Buenos Aires yesterday.

“We were probably the largest victim of the data breach,” Donuts veep Jon Nevett told the board. “We had our financial data reviewed numerous times, dozens of times. We had our relative net worth of our TLDs reviewed, so it was very damaging information.”

He was referring to the misconfiguration in the new gTLD applicants’ portal, which allowed any user to view confidential application attachments belonging to any applicant.

ICANN discovered the problem in February, two years after the portal launched. The results of a security audit were revealed in late April.

But it was not until late May that it emerged that only one person, dotBerlin CEO Dirk Krischenowski, was suspected by ICANN of having deliberately viewed data belonging to others.

Nevett said communication should have been faster.

“We were in the dark for a number of weeks about who saw the data,” he told the board. “That was troubling, as we were going to auctions in that interim period as well.”

Donuts, which applied for over 300 new gTLDs, is known to have taken a strictly numbers-driven approach to string selection and auction strategy.

If a rival in a contention set had known how much Donuts was prepared to pay for a string, it would have had a significant advantage in an auction.

In response to Nevett’s concerns, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade said that ICANN had to do a thorough investigation before it could be sure who saw what when.