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Watch .club win its new gTLD for $[censored]

As we reported earlier in the week, .CLUB Domains was one of the first companies to win its new gTLD auction and now the company has published a short video of the moment the auction closed.

The first reaction of CEO Colin Campbell is to put out a press release announcing the win, followed by calling the lawyers, which I think we can all agree is the Natural Order for all things.

Sadly, because winning bids are supposed to be confidential, the company has bleeped out references to the amount it paid and blurred a laptop screen in shot, lest CSI:Miami’s cyberpunks are watching.

Six private new gTLD auctions raise $9m

We now know (roughly) how much a new gTLD is worth.

The new gTLD contention sets for .club, .college, .luxury, .photography, .red, and .vote have been settled in a series of auctions this week that raised over $9 million.

That’s an average price of $1.5 million per string.

Writing on CircleID, Innovative Auctions project director Sheel Mohnot confirmed that the withdrawal of Donuts’ application for .vote was a result of losing the auction.

We also already know that .CLUB Domains won its auction.

But Mohnot did not reveal the winners of the other four auctions, each of which was a two-way fight between Donuts and one rival. ICANN’s web site does not yet reflect any other withdrawals.

His article does, however, quote Top Level Design and Luxury Holdings, which applied for .photography and .luxury respectively, as saying they were happy with the outcome.

Assuming they won too (which is of course not certain) that would mean Donuts lost at least four of the six auctions.

Donuts had originally submitted 63 strings to auction, but they could of course only go ahead if all of its competitors agreed to participate.

One wonders if the company submitted its lowest-value strings first in order to build up its war chest for future auctions. A good chunk of the $9 million raised will have flowed straight into its coffers.

Private auction settles .club fight

.CLUB Domains has won the right to launch the .club gTLD at a private auction against two other applicants, according to an announcement from the company.

The company, chiefed by Tucows and Hostopia founder Colin Campbell, also said it has raised $7 million to bring the TLD to market.

Its two rivals for the string were portfolio applicants Donuts and Merchant Law Group. The auction was designed by Cramton Associates and managed by Innovative Auctions of Hong Kong.

Neither competing applicant has had their withdrawals, assuming they’ve been submitted, processed by ICANN yet.

None of the applications were subject to formal objections or Governmental Advisory Committee meddling, giving the successful bidder a relatively clear run at delegation and launch.

.CLUB Domains said in a press release:

Domains like www.golf.club, www.poker.club, and www.book.club should hit the market in late 2013 or early 2014. In addition to acting as the worldwide .CLUB registry, the company has plans to offer .CLUB domain name registrants a web and mobile social platform designed specifically for member engagement and management, making it easy for clubs of any kind to establish themselves on the internet.

According to its application, the registry plans to target:

1. Social Clubs, 2. Sporting Clubs 3. Special Interest/Hobby Clubs, 4. Country Clubs 5. Buying Clubs, 6. Fraternities and Sororities, 7. Personal Clubs, 8. Professional Clubs, 9.School Clubs, 10. Service Clubs, and 11. Night Clubs.

That said, .CLUB does not plan to implement any registration restrictions; .club will be completely open.

The applicant has chosen Neustar to provide its back-end registry.

Tucows co-founder takes hard line on .club gTLD

Kevin Murphy, February 20, 2012, Domain Registries

.CLUB Domains LLC says it has secured funding for its .club generic top-level domain application, and says it is ready to go to an ICANN auction if necessary.

CEO Colin Campbell, a Tucows co-founder, blogged today that the funding deal comes along with “contingent financing… to ensure the company wins the top level domain in an auction.”

Apparently a few other companies have privately revealed that they are also applying for .club, but .CLUB Domains claims that it has no intention of negotiating with them. Campbell wrote:

Unfortunately ICANN’s process has encouraged some speculators to apply for the gTLD with no intention of actually running the top level domain but simply negotiating with legitimate operators. We have been approached by a number of companies who are applying for .Club. Our belief is that is best not to negotiate with these companies or individuals but win the name through an open and fair auction process.

This is a prime example of why revealing new gTLD plans before April 12 may not be the best business strategy — they invite competition from insiders who want a piece of your action.

Whether .CLUB Domains’s hard-line stance on competing applications will help reduce the field for .club — or whether rivals will try to call its bluff — remains to be seen.