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Seller’s remorse despite .club leading $1m NamesCon auction

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2015, Domain Services

The Right Of The Dot and SnapNames auction here at the NamesCon conference in Las Vegas last night raised just shy of $1 million, in what attendees broadly seem to agree was a successful event.

The grand total was $990,851, with 87 out of the 134 lots hitting their reserve and selling during the live/online bidding.

Leading the pack was homecare.com, which sold for $350,000.

But that deal actually closed before the live event began, leaving .CLUB Domains’ wine.club at the top of the sold list with a winning $140,000 bid.

Despite the sale, registry CEO Colin Campbell — evidently disappointed he had not placed a higher reserve on the name, expressed some seller’s remorse on Twitter this morning.

.CLUB also offloaded reserved names weed.club ($16,000), fight.club ($13,500) and tequila.club ($8,000), among others.

.com of course had the best night, with carauctions.com going for $90,000, susan.com going for $34,000 and tik.com and vil.com both going for $33,000.

Organizer Mike Berkens took a $76,000 hit on sexeducation.com, which he purchased for $100,000 and sold without reserve for $24,000.

Also noteworthy was what I believe was the biggest bid of the night — a $1.2 million in-room bid for auctions.com, owned by .xyz registry CEO Daniel Negari.

The domain failed to meet its reserve, however, and will join the other unsold names in an extended online auction that begins this weekend.

Vegas.club sells for $100,000

Kevin Murphy, January 13, 2015, Domain Sales

.CLUB Domains said today it has sold the domain vegas.club for $100,000, and will help in its promotion as a members-only site for deals related to Las Vegas.

The deal was announced here at the NamesCon conference at the Tropicana hotel in Vegas.

The buyer is One Degree World Systems, a local company that develops booking sites for tourist destination cities worldwide.

I’m not sure the deal would be reportable as a straightforward domain-only sale, given that .CLUB said the companies have a “partnership” to develop the domain.

According to a company press release, the upcoming site will offer “members-only deals on nightclubs, hotels, shows, attractions and tours as well as concierge services, VIP status at local attractions, and white glove services like personal assistants on the ground, butler and nanny services and more.”

.CLUB had a similar relationship with its first big anchor tenant, the rapper 50 Cent, for the fan site 50inda.club.

It’s the second .club name the registry has sold for a six-figure sum. It sold coffee.club, also for $100,000, last year.

Right Of The Dot helped broker the vegas.club deal, the registry said.

“Second most marketable athlete in the world” to use a .club domain

Kevin Murphy, November 17, 2014, Domain Registries

Virat Kohli, a famous Indian cricketer, is .CLUB Domains’ latest star anchor tenant.

He’s launching his first ever official web site, at viratkohli.club, today.

No, I’ve never heard of him either, but he’s been called the “second most marketable athlete in the world” after Lewis Hamilton by SportsPro, a UK sports marketing business-to-business magazine.

The 26-year-old has captained the Indian national side and holds various records in the world of cricket.

Just yesterday, he became “the first batsman to score 1000 ODI runs in a calendar year for four years in a row”, which is probably very impressive if you know what it means.

He has almost 4.5 million Twitter followers and over 18 million Facebook “likes”, which means his links to his new site, should he choose to post any, will reach a wide audience in nations where cricket is popular.

His adoption of .club, which seems to be a result of a deal with .CLUB, follows the launch of 50 Cent’s 50inda.club. Singer Demi Lovato also has a .club for her official site, apparently purchased of her own volition.

.club first new gTLD to sell 100,000 domains

Kevin Murphy, August 29, 2014, Domain Registries

.club hit a landmark this week with its 100,000th domain name registration, according to .CLUB Domains.

It’s the first new gTLD to get to this level of success without giving away names for free — .xyz and .berlin have over 460,000 and 130,000 names respectively but fall under 100k if you factor out the freebies.

The .club zone file showed 98,984 names (excluding swelling from the name collisions program) last night, and it’s been growing at steady rate of roughly 250-300 names per day.

It appears that there are 1,000 or so names that do not appear in the zone file, perhaps because they’re not configured yet.

.club hit general availability May 7, 114 days ago.

ICANN smacks new gTLDs for pre-sunrise auctions

Running a premium domain name auction before you’ve finished your new gTLD sunrise period is Officially Not Cool, according to ICANN’s compliance department.

People who won premium new gTLD domains in auctions that took place before sunrise periods now face the possibility of losing their names to trademark owners.

.CLUB Domains, and probably XYZ.com, operators of .club and .xyz, two of the highest-volume new gTLDs to launch so far, appear to be affected by the ICANN decision.

ICANN told .CLUB that its “winter auction“, which took place in late February, may have violated the rules about allocating or “earmarking” domains to registrants before sunrise takes place.

Meanwhile, NameJet has cancelled the auction for deals.xyz, which “sold” for $8,100 late last year, suggesting that .xyz’s pre-sunrise auction is also considered ultra vires.

ICANN told .CLUB that its auction sales “constitute earmarking” in violation of the rule stating that registries “must not allow a domain name to be allocated or registered prior to the Sunrise period”.

.CLUB had told its auction winners that a sunrise period registration would prevent them from getting the domain they wanted and that they would be refunded if a sunrise registrant emerged.

But ICANN evidently told the registry:

Irrespective of whether “[a]llocation was expressly conditioned upon any Sunrise claim,” or whether any Sunrise claim was made, the pre-selection, pre-registration or pre-designation to third parties, in this case via .Club Domains’ “winter auction,” constitutes improper allocation.

I kinda thought this would happen.

Back in November, when XYZ.com ran its first .xyz auction — about six months before its sunrise even started — CEO Daniel Negari told us he believed it was “comfortably within the rules“.

We said the auction “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.”

I’ve not yet been able to definitively confirm that .xyz is affected by this ICANN decision, but .club definitely is.

.CLUB Domains told its auction winners today that the names they won are now subject to a 60-day period during which they could be obtained by trademark owners.

If no trademark owner claims the name, .CLUB said it will give the auction winner a 10% rebate on their purchase price.

The email states:

We are placing the domain on hold for 60 days, during which time a Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) holder will have the opportunity to purchase the domain at Sunrise rates. Although, the domain is not currently in the TMCH, if a trademark holder should file in the TMCH over the next 60 days, the domain will be offered to that registrant. However, if the name is not claimed by filing in the TMCH over the next 60 days, your transaction will move forward as planned.

Although we disagree with ICANN compliance’s position on this matter, the actions we are taking are necessary to ensure that we are not offside with ICANN compliance in any way. We understand that you have been caught in the middle of this issue due to no fault of your own. Given these circumstances, we are offering you two options:

1) Should you decide to complete this transaction, we will issue you a payment of 10% of the purchase price after the transaction closes in 60 days, assuming the name is not registered by a TMCH mark holder because of the delay.

2) At any time during the 60 day period you have the option to rescind the auction bid and not purchasing the domain.

.club now biggest-selling new gTLD

.club has overtaken .guru to become the top-selling new gTLD on the market.

According to today’s zone file report, .club now has 59,120 domains, having grown by 2,504 yesterday. That’s compared to .guru, which grew by 181 names to 58,791.

It’s been 12 days since .CLUB Domains predicted it would be at the top of the league table “within days”.

It’s taken 20 days for the gTLD to beat .guru, something the registry at first reckoned would happen within its first week of full general availability.

I don’t think yesterday’s spike has anything to do with the 50 Cent endorsement deal.

As far as I can tell, Fiddy has only been linking to his .com shop on Twitter since his .club domain went live and the deal does not seem to have generated any media coverage outside of domain blogs.

Taking the number one spot is only a relative success, of course. What’s important is that .club is still managing to move 2,500 names in a day three weeks after launch, something no other new gTLD has managed to date.

Fiddy drops da C-bomb at .club launch party

Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson accidentally supported “.com” while he was endorsing da new .club gTLD at a launch party at a New York nightclub last night.

As previously reported, Fiddy is da first significant celebrity endorser of a new gTLD. He’s being paid to use 50inda.club, a web site developed by .CLUB Domains, as his new social media hub.

“In Da Club” was of course his breakthrough hit, in 2003.

He showed up at da Tao nightclub in New York — which had been rebranded “.CLUB” for one night only — last night for about 90 minutes in order to meet fans and pose for selfies, etc.

I was there. As disclosure, .CLUB had paid for my airfare from London, a night in a hotel, and copious amounts of alcohol.

I didn’t attempt to get into da roped-off VIP area where Fiddy was being held, but I gather that da bouncers guarding it were somewhat selective in who he got to meet.

He also publicly spoke, alongside .CLUB’s CEO Colin Campbell and CMO Jeff Sass, for about 30 seconds, in order to provide his official endorsement of da new gTLD.

Da problem was that during his brief address he referred to his support for “.com”, which is a little bit like a celebrity being paid to endorse Pepsi referring to how much he loves Coke.

Probably just a Freudian slip. We’ve all done it.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you da full quote just yet. It was quite noisy in there, and I’d consumed quite a bit of Cristal with diamond flakes floating in it. But a lot of people who videoed da address on their phones tell me it will be on YouTube shortly.

Fortunately for .CLUB, I don’t think what he said matters that much.

What matters is how frequently his people link to his new .club domain on his social media channels, how much mainstream media coverage his endorsement generates, and how many people register .club domains as a result.

Getting Fiddy as an anchor tenant will not have come cheap — my guess, and it is just a guess, is that da deal is costing .CLUB high six figures at least — so da company will have to sell a lot of domains to make it pay off.

UPDATE May 26: Here’s .CLUB’s video of da event. Fiddy says he’s very excited to launch his “50 in da .com club”. He later gets it right, referring to “.club” more than once.

.club pips .berlin to #2 spot

.CLUB Domains moved into the number two spot on the new gTLD league table overnight, but its growth appears to be slowing.

In today’s zone files, .club has 47,362 domains under management, having added 734 on Sunday; .berlin stood at 47,243, having added 33 yesterday.

.guru still leads with 56,813 names.

Sunday is typically a slow day for domain registrations across the industry, but .club’s growth does appear to be slowing compared to its first few days of general availability, regardless.

It saw 1,141 net new names on Friday and 1,351 on Saturday. The previous Friday and Saturday adds were at 4,904 and 3,828.

It’s difficult to get a comprehensive picture of daily growth due to the registry missing a few days of zone files last week.

.club misses first target but hopes to be #1 new gTLD “within days”

.CLUB Domains failed to overtake .guru in its first week of general availability as promised, but the company is nevertheless upbeat about taking the number one spot “within days”.

The last zone file available for .club shows 41,203 names, but that’s the May 14 file. The company, or its back-end, has been having trouble keeping its zone file current in the ICANN system this week.

That was an increase of of 10,523 over five days, or 2,104 per day on average.

As of 1500 UTC yesterday, the company reckoned it had 44,450 sales.

That would still place it at #3 in the league table behind .guru with 56,097 (up 200 names today) and .berlin with 47,079 (up 60 names).

If the growth rates stay roughly the same, .club may well overtake .guru in less than a week.

CEO Colin Campbell told us in March that “I firmly believe that .CLUB will exceed all other new generic top level domains in the first week of launch in registrations and overtake .GURU as the leader.”

The company is hosting a party in New York with celebrity endorser 50 Cent next Thursday (disclosure: I’m attending on .CLUB’s dime) which may or may not lead to a spike.

Best anchor tenant ever? 50 Cent to use a .club

The American rapper Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson has become the first big-name celebrity to get in on the new gTLD game, announcing today that he’s launching a fan site on a .club domain.

He’ll launch 50inda.club at a .CLUB Domains launch event in New York on May 22, the registry has just announced.

‘In Da Club’ was the name of his breakthrough single in 2003.

A quote in a press release, attributed to Jackson, said:

As I prepare to launch `Animal Ambition’ on June 3 and my new drama `Power’ on Starz, the timing was right to give my fans a central web location to stay on top of all my latest news and social updates. I like to stay on the cutting edge, and 50inda.club represents the new wave of Internet names that actually mean something to me and my fans.

Fiddy has 7.41 million Twitter followers. That’s the kind of social media exposure not many other — probably no other — new gTLD operators have managed to achieve to date.

This, in my view, is a huge coup and is exactly the kind of thing new gTLDs need to be doing to get the word out about new gTLDs.