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Radix targets a million .online names in 2-3 years

Kevin Murphy, August 27, 2015, Domain Registries

Having just finished the most-successful new gTLD launch day to date, Radix Registry reckons it can get .online to seven figures in two to three years.

“We’re at 37,170 names as of an hour ago,” Radix CEO Bhavin Turakhia told DI at about 1000 UTC this morning.

That represents less than a full day of general availability. The company said last night that 28,000 names were registered in the first 30 minutes.

UPDATE: At the 24-hour mark, Radix tweeted this:

That beats .club’s 25,000-ish, which was Radix’s publicly stated goal, but it also tops .berlin’s 31,000 first-day names.

The CEOs of both these rival registries had publicly predicted their positions would be toppled and actively encouraged Radix to claim the crown.

Turakhia said that the majority of names registered came from pre-orders, largely at 1&1.

“Fourteen thousand names came from 1&1, 6,000 from Go Daddy, 2,700 from United Domains, 1,900 from Name.com and 1,400 from Tucows,” he said, partially breaking down the 37,170 figure by registrar.

He said the goal is to have a .online zone measured in the millions of names.

“I estimate that we should be able to get to a million names in a period of two to three years,” he said. “That’s on a conservative basis.”

Depending on how you count domains, .xyz may have already been the first to hit one million. Its zone never got as high as a million names, but it may have briefly crossed a million in terms of domains under management earlier this year.

At auction, .online sold for what is believed to be an eight-figure sum, originally to a joint venture of Radix, Tucows and Namecheap.

Radix bought out its partners earlier this year.

That was an increase in risk exposure Radix business head Sandeep Ramchandani said made him nervous. He said launch day’s numbers show .online’s potential.

Turahkhia said that there are 680,000 names in the .com zone that end in “online” today, and a million that have “online” somewhere in the second level, showing that the string is desirable to registrants.

Radix said last night that its Early Access Period — during which names are sold for a higher price — ended with 1,130 sales.

Turahkhia said that of these, about 1,000 were registered in the last three days, during which time the price was $100. Regular .online pricing is around the same as .com ($14.99 at 1&1 and Go Daddy), but some registrars are selling for as much at $50.

.berlin zone drops off a cliff

The number of domains in the .berlin zone file appears to have stabilized after falling off a cliff late last week.

The new gTLD, which was an early leader in the space, peaked at 151,295 names on June 10.

It was down by 68,841 to 82,481 domains on June 12 and has been relatively flat, down by just a dozen or so domains per day, ever since.

A possible explanation for the decrease is the expiration of domains that were given away for free a year ago, but the dates don’t quite tally.

On June 16 2014, the zone file rocketed by over 67,000 names, most of which were registered via InternetX.

The promotion was yanked just a few days later, with the dotBerlin registry citing unexpectedly high demand.

One of dotBerlin’s registration policies requires .berlin names to be “put to use” within 12 months of registration, in such a way that demonstrates the nexus with the Berlin community.

Given that most of the free domains were registered by a handful of speculators, it seems unlikely that there’s been a whole lot of development of those names.

.berlin CEO prime suspect in ICANN data breach

dotBerlin CEO Dirk Krischenowski is suspected of using a bug in ICANN’s new gTLD portal to access hundreds of confidential documents, some containing sensitive financial planning data, belonging to competing gTLD applicants.

That’s according to ICANN documents sent by a source to DI today.

Krischenowski, who has through his lawyer “denied acting improperly or unlawfully”, seems to be the only person ICANN thinks abused its portal’s misconfigured search feature to deliberately access rivals’ secret data.

ICANN said last night that “over 60 searches, resulting in the unauthorized access of more than 200 records, were conducted using a limited set of user credentials”.

But ICANN, in private letters to victims, has been pinning all 60 searches and all 200 access incidents on Krischenowski’s user credentials.

Some of the incidents of unauthorized access were against applicants Krischenowski-run companies were competing against in new gTLD contention sets.

The search terms used to find the private documents included the name of the rival applicant on more than one occasion.

In more than once instance, the data accessed using his credentials was a confidential portion of a rival application explaining the applicant’s “worst case scenario” financial planning, the ICANN letters show.

I’ve reached out to Krischenowski for comment, but ICANN said in its letters to victims:

[Krischenowski] has responded through legal counsel and has denied acting improperly or unlawfully. The user has stated that he is unable to confirm whether he performed the searches or whether the user’s account was used by unauthorized person(s). The user stated that he did not record any information pertaining to other users and that he has not used and will not use the information for any purpose.

Krischenowski is a long-time proponent of the new gTLD program who founded dotBerlin in 2005, many years before it was possible to apply.

Since .berlin launched last year it has added 151,000 domains to its zone file, making it the seventh-largest new gTLD.

The bug in the ICANN portal was discovered in February.

The results on an audit completed last month showed that over the last two years, 19 users used the glitch to access data belonging to 96 applicants and 21 registry operators.

There were 330 incidents of unauthorized access in total, but ICANN seems to have dismissed the non-“Krischenowski” ones as inadvertent.

An ICANN spokesperson declined to confirm or deny Krischenowski is the prime suspect.

Its investigation continues…

dotBERLIN pulls plug on free domain giveaway

The .berlin registry has apparently halted the promotion that has given away tens of thousands of free domain names, citing unexpectedly high demand.

According to 101domain, a registrar that started giving away .berlin domains for free yesterday:

As of 1pm PST today, June 18th, the free .BERLIN promotion will unfortunately come to an end.

According to the dotBERLIN registry, demand was exceedingly above their anticipated volumes, so they have decided to pull the plug early.

The promotion, which led to domainers registered tens of thousands of names, was due to end on Friday.

Why has dotBERLIN pulled the plug? I have to wonder whether it is related to the company’s own registration policies, which are not particularly domainer-friendly.

The .berlin TLD started today at 121,193 names, according to its zone file, up 5,227 on the day.

Over 70,000 of those names were registered in the last two days, and most of those are believed to be freebies handed out by InternetX and, as of yesterday, 101domain.

As we reported yesterday, one domainer, DomainProfi, is responsible for over 23,000 of these registrations.

Another massive registrant, as DNW reported today, is Sedo-affiliated DomCollect, part of the same group (United Internet) as InternetX. It has over 30,000 .berlin names.

It’s difficult to see any of these names being developed or used in any meaningful way — they seem to be currently parked — yet the dotBERLIN registration policy may require it.

The English translation of the policy (pdf) states:

5.2. Conditions for the content and use of domain names

As the gTLD .BERLIN is a so-called “community based” gTLD, where the registration of domain names is subject to restrictions, a domain name must be put into use within 12 months of registration.

If the registrant sets up a web site which can be reached via the registered domain name, the content of this site must have be directly related to the authorisation to register

The first part of that seems simple: you have to “use” the domain within a year or risk losing it.

The “authorisation to register” appears to be the registrant’s self-declared “economic, cultural, historical, social or other connection to the German capital, Berlin”.

I interpret the two paragraphs together to read: “You must use the name in a manner that reflects your connection to Berlin”.

Does this mean parking is prohibited? There’s nothing explicit banning it, but I’d say it’s definitely a grey area. It seems to be down to the decision of the registry.

I asked dotBERLIN for clarification this morning but have not yet received one.

For the registrants, there seems to be little risk, however. They haven’t paid for their names and probably don’t intend to renew any that they can’t sell before renewal time.

.berlin rockets to 116k on free domain offer

A promotion from dotBERLIN saw .berlin more than double its registration count yesterday, as speculators (apparently) swooped to claim over 61,000 free domain names.

The new gTLD ended the day with 115,966 domains in its zone, up 67,347 or 138% on the day.

That makes it the number two new gTLD again, snipping at the heels of .xyz, which has 144,474 names.

But, like .xyz, the numbers are not an accurate reflection of demand.

Giving away free domains seems to be the way to go if you want to quickly rack up your registration count with scant regard for actual end user purchases or renewal rates.

dotBERLIN said yesterday that it was celebrating 50,000 registrations with a five-day offer seeing registrars sell the names for no more than €5.55 ($7.53).

But some registrars are actually offering them for free.

InternetX is one such registrar, and it appears to have taken the vast, vast majority of all the new .berlin registrations yesterday.

Digging into name server records, it appears that at least 61,000 names were registered via InternetX-owned registrars. Of those, over 23,000 appear to have been registered to a single domainer.

InternetX, to the best of my knowledge, wasn’t forcing the domains on its customers, which is what Network Solutions did with .xyz.

According to its web site, the offer was limited to 50 domains per customer, though there appears to be an option to purchase obtain more.

The domainer with the cache of 23,000 names appears to be an InternetX reseller.

The numbers are big, and they may well convert into revenue-generating renewals for dotBERLIN, but right now I don’t think they’re especially reflective of demand among end user registrants.