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CentralNic earmarks IPO money for new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, August 13, 2013, Domain Registries

CentralNic this morning formally confirmed that it plans to float on the Alternative Investment Market in London and said the money raised will help it buy stakes in new gTLDs.

The London-based company plans to hit the market at the beginning of September. CEO Ben Crawford told The Telegraph yesterday that the company hopes to raise £5 million ($7.7 million) with the IPO.

CentralNic said in a press release this morning:

The Directors believe that the funds raised for the Group by the placing of shares will allow the Group to enhance its global distribution network, acquire interests in new gTLDs, expand its own retail business and obtain contracts from governments to operate their country code TLDs (“ccTLDs”), especially in developing markets.

While the company is best-known for running pseudo-gTLDs such as us.com and uk.com, it also provides the back-end for the repurposed ccTLDs .la and .pw and has 60 new gTLD back-end contracts, 25 of which are uncontested.

Crawford said in the press release:

We are profitable, debt free, asset backed and about to capitalise on the major changes being made to the internet with the influx of new TLDs. We already have in place the required IT infrastructure and global retailer network. We have also been awarded a significant number of new TLD contracts so the Company is confident of expanding rapidly.

According to The Telegraph, the IPO could value the company at £30 million ($46.4 million).

The Alternative Investment Market is the low-cap little brother to the London Stock Exchange. CentralNic will be the second registry, after Top Level Domain Holdings, to list there.

Did GMO flunk evaluation on 27 gTLDs? CentralNic takes over the whole lot

Did would-be new gTLD registry services provider GMO Registry fail its ICANN technical evaluations?

The Japanese company has made a deal that will see CentralNic take over the back-end operations for all 27 of the applications it was signed up to service, it has emerged.

In a letter, provided by GMO to ICANN last week as part of its sweeping application change requests, CentralNic says:

CentralNic Ltd has entered into a contract with GMO Registry, Inc. (GMO) to provide backend gTLD registry services for their generic top-level domains.

The letter (pdf) goes on to enumerate the 10 critical technical functions — basically everything from EPP to DNSSEC to registrar management — that CentralNic will be taking over.

The letter seems to have been attached last week to change requests for each of the 27 applications for which the DI PRO database lists GMO as the back-end registry provider.

That list includes big dot-brands such as .toshiba, .sharp and .nissan, generics such as .shop and .mail, and city TLDs including .tokyo and .osaka. Even the original dot-brand, .canon, and GMO’s own .gmo are switching back-ends.

The requested changes certainly seem to explain why GMO has yet to pass any of its Initial Evaluations (as we noted on Twitter a couple weeks back) despite having prioritization numbers as low as 111.

GMO parent GMO Internet may not be widely known outside of Japan, but it’s a pretty big deal. The company had 2012 revenue of about JPY 75 billion ($730 million) and it owns a top-ten registrar, Onamae.

Per ICANN rules, the change request switching the applications to CentralNic back-ends are open for public comment for 30 days.

New gTLD registry hopeful CentralNic taken out by “total power failure”

Kevin Murphy, March 15, 2013, Domain Registries

Emerging new gTLD back-end player CentralNic today suffered a two-hour blackout of its registry systems, due to a “total power failure” at its data center.

Its registry, which handles subdomain services such as uk.com and gb.com and the ccTLD .la, was offline from 0930 to 1130 UTC this morning, the company said.

Even though the company has all the necessary backup precautions you’d expect from a total-uptime domain name registry, for some reason they failed to kick in, it seems.

CentralNic said:

The data centre is equipped with fully resilient power supply including N+1 redundant [Uninterruptible Power Supply] arrays and backup diesel generators, and the exact cause of the outage, and why the UPS and diesel generator system did not take over to maintain power, is not yet known.

The company is the named back-end provider for 60 gTLD applications, including a handful of dot-brands.

Coming so soon before ICANN starts the pre-delegation testing of registry providers, the outage is embarrassing to say the least.

Alagna leaves CentralNic

Kevin Murphy, February 7, 2013, Gossip

CentralNic’s North American manager, Joe Alagna, has left the company.

Alagna said in a blog post today that he’s leaving the new gTLD back-end hopeful after 13 years there, but did not give his reasons for leaving or state his destination.

CentralNic is the named back-end provider for 60 new gTLD applications and currently runs several pseudo-TLDs, selling subdomains of domains such as gb.com, us.com and uk.com.

Directi to relaunch .pw as an open TLD

Kevin Murphy, October 8, 2012, Domain Registries

Directi will soon relaunch .pw, the ccTLD for the tiny Micronesian nation of Palau, as an open pseudo-gTLD.

The official launch of the registry will happen at the ICANN meeting in Toronto next week, according to Directi CEO Bhavin Turakhia, with a sunrise period kicking off in December.

It’s the first TLD for which Directi — an applicant for 30 new gTLDs as well as a top-ten registrar — will act as the registry.

.pwThe company will brand the offering around the retroactive acronym “Professional Web”.

Turakhia hopes success will come from a combination of low cost — registry fees are not yet finalized, but will be sub-.com, he said — and the fact that .pw is mostly virgin territory.

“It’s a pretty good pricing model,” he said. “We’re making sure that people have access to desirable names at an affordable cost.”

The company plans to run .pw “exactly like a gTLD”, with standard sunrise, landrush and registration lifecycle policies. It will even adopt the UDRP, Turakhia said.

CentralNic, which already runs subdomain services such as .gb.com and .us.com, has been hired to run the back-end, despite the fact that Directi is using ARI Registry Services for its gTLD bids.

Sunrise is expected to start in early December and run for about 70 days. Landrush will run for a month, starting in February 2013. Pricing has yet to be finalized.

Directi is currently looking for registrars to sell the domains, above and beyond its own network of registrars.

Directi obtained the exclusive license to .pw about four years ago via EnCirca, the registrar that attempted to relaunch .pw under the “Personal Web” slogan in 2004.

The company originally planned to use the second level as a bundled service to tie in with a social networking slash instant messaging product that it was working on, but those plans have changed.

As a result .pw hasn’t been accepting registrations for a while.

Palau is a Pacific island nation with only about 20,000 citizens. As such, .pw doesn’t have a great many legacy registrations.

One such registration is pay.pw, which Directi is using for a payment gateway service.

Turakhia said that six second-level domains have been reserved for Palau’s use: co.pw, ne.pw, or.pw, ed.pw, go.pw and belau.pw. No other two-letter domains will be available.