Donuts has a clear path to being awarded the .church, .life and .loans new gTLDs, following a private auction managed by Innovative Auctions this week.
Life Covenant Church and CompassRose.life have already withdrawn their applications for .church and .life respectively, and others are expected to follow soon.
Life Covenant Church, which does business at LifeChurch.tv, was described as the largest multi-site church in the US last year, with 46,000 regular attendees across 15 locations.
A lucrative business, no doubt. But apparently not lucrative enough to beat Donuts.
In the three-way contention set for .life, Donuts beat CompassRose.life, which seems to be affiliated with a Canadian housing developer and Xiamen 35.com Technology.
In .loans, which still faces Governmental Advisory Committee advice, Donuts beat fellow portfolio applicant Radix.
The losing applicants will all receive pay-offs from Donuts as a result of losing the auctions.
Innovative has now helped resolve 21 contention sets.
ICANN has cut the anticipated length of its “last resort” new gTLD auctions in half, last night publishing a schedule that would take 10 months and end in early 2015.
The draft schedule and auction rules, put together by selected auctioneer Power Auctions, would see 10 monthly batches of auctions, with 20 contention sets resolved per month.
The revised rules, which are open for public comment, read:
It is anticipated that Auctions will be conducted once per month to resolve 20 Contention Sets per Auction, with the intention to complete all Auctions within one (1) year from the date of the first Auction.
It’s still anticipated that auctions will begin in March 2014.
That’s a lot better for applicants than the original plan, which was to limit each applicant to only five auctions per month. Due to Donuts’ large portfolio, that would have stretched the process out to April 2016.
An accompanying schedule (pdf) published last night actually batches up 201 of the remaining contested gTLDs into 10 buckets, so most applicants now know where they stand.
It’s good news for applicants that have high priority numbers but are in contention sets with applicants with low priority numbers — they’ll get bumped to the front of the queue.
For example, dot Buy Limited drew 1,883 in the prioritization lottery, but will be in the first monthly auction because it’s up against Amazon, with priority number 128, for .buy.
There’s still no news about how ICANN will handle indirect contention, however.
While the schedule has placed the likes of .unicom and .unicorn — which were found similar by evaluation panels — in the same auction, it does not yet reflect the results of objections that should (in theory) place different strings in the same contention set.
April 2016. That’s the likely date of the final new gTLD contention set auction under the rules currently anticipated by ICANN.
As you might imagine, many applicants are not happy about this.
In a series of presentations over the last couple of weeks, ICANN has laid out how it sees its “last resort” auctions playing out.
Preliminary timetables have been sketched out, from which three data points are noteworthy:
- Auctions will start in “early March” 2014.
- There will be one “auction event” every four weeks.
- Applicants can bid on a maximum of five gTLDs per auction.
Currently, the applicant in the most contention sets is Donuts, as you might have guessed given the size of its portfolio. By my reckoning it’s currently contesting 141 gTLD strings.
With a March 1 date for the first auction, and taking into account the aforementioned timing restrictions, it would be April 23, 2016 before the final Donuts contention set is resolved.
That’s four years after the application window closed.
Google would be in auctions until January 2015. TLDH, Uniregistry and Amazon’s contested strings would be tied up until at least October next year.
This is obviously terrible news for applicants competing with portfolio applicants where the contention set has quite a high position in ICANN’s prioritization queue.
A year or two is a long time to wait — burning through your funding and not taking in any revenue — if you’re a single-string applicant on a tight budget. Every dollar spent waiting is a dollar less to spend at auction.
According to ICANN, applicants will be able to waive the five-gTLDs-per-month maximum.
But that only seems to help the larger portfolio applicants, which will be seeing revenue from launched, uncontested gTLDs and could take the opportunity to starve out their smaller rivals.
Auctions themselves are shaping up to be a controversial subject in general, with several community members taking the mic at the ICANN 48 Public Forum last week to call for ICANN to change the process.
A few people pointed the ICANN board to the recent withdrawal of DotGreen — a popular but evidently poorly funded community effort — from the new gTLD program as a harbinger of things to come.
“By not allowing applicants to be in more than five auctions simultaneously it means those applicants, particularly portfolio applicants, are not going to be able to move through their contention sets,” Google policy manager Sarah Falvey said at the Forum.
“It drags in all the single applicants, because they’re stuck on that exact same time schedule and can’t move their applications through as well,” she said, adding that ICANN should create a new process that sets the time limit for auctions at about six months.
“People could be waiting two years to delegate through no fault of their own,” she said.
Later responding to Afilias director Jonathan Robinson, who backed up Falvey’s call for an accelerated schedule, ICANN president of generic domains Akram Atallah said that the rules are not yet set in stone.
The five-a-day rule was created to give applicants the ability to plan payments better, he said, and ICANN is still soliciting input on how the system could be improved.
New gTLD registry XYZ.com has responded to criticisms of its plan to auction .xyz and .college names with NameJet before they even have signed contracts with ICANN.
CEO Daniel Negari told DI that the plan to auction 40 names between now and the end of February, is “comfortably within the rules”.
The company seems to be operating at the edge of what is permissible under the new gTLD program’s rights protection mechanisms, which state that no domains may be allocated prior to Sunrise.
But Negari said in an email interview that nothing will be “allocated” before its Sunrise periods are done:
the buyers at auction are not buying the domain names as in a normal auction. They are buying an option to force us to allocate them the domain after the Sunrise Period for the auction price assuming various contingencies are met — such as us being able to allocate the name in the future, the name being available after sunrise, the name not being blocked-out because of name collisions and so on.
He went on to say that the 40 names being put to auction are being drawn from the 100 names the recently redrafted Registry Agreement says registries are allowed to allocate to themselves “necessary for the operation or the promotion of the TLD”.
There’s also the potential problem that neither TLD has yet received its list of name collisions, which are likely to contain thousands of strings that the registry must block at launch.
As we’ve seen with the gTLDs that already have their lists, many desirable second-level strings are likely to be blocked, which could clash with names XYZ is planning to auction.
But XYZ seems to have access to the Day In The Life Of The Internet data from which these lists are compiled, and Negari said that the names it is auctioning off do not appear.
“We think these auctions are a great way to both promote our TLD as anticipated by ICANN in the RA and to bring increased innovation to the space in line with ICANN’s stated goals for the new gTLD program,” Negari said.
Many registrars are already offering new gTLD pre-registrations, now NameJet has taken the idea one step further: it’s going to auction premium names months before the gTLDs even go live.
It’s just announced a deal with XYZ.com, which is on track to run the .xyz and .college registries, to sell 40 “premium” domain names this month. In fact, according to its press relase, the first auction started on Wednesday.
These two new gTLDs are uncontested but do not yet have Registry Agreements with ICANN, and have not passed pre-delegation testing or any of the other pre-launch prerequisites.
The companies said they due to go live next year.
Some of the domains to be auctioned include: loans.college, scholarships.college, vacations.xyz, insurancequotes.xyz, students.college, jobs.college, auctions.xyz and health.xyz.
NameJet said it expects the auctions to be wrapped up by the end of February.