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Neustar pays $109 million for .CO Internet

Kevin Murphy, March 20, 2014, Domain Registries

Four years after relaunching the Colombian ccTLD .co as a global top-level domain, .CO Internet has been acquired by its long-time partner Neustar for $109 million.

The .co registry will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Neustrar, which already runs .biz and .us, following the close of the deal.

.CO recorded revenue of $21 million in 2013, of which Neustar took $4 million as its back-end registry provider, according to Neustar.

The .co zone currently stands at about 1.6 million names, according to the companies. That seems to mean it added roughly 200,000 net new names in 2013, judging by its 2012 numbers.

The company relaunched .co in 2010, having jointly bid with Neustar for a Colombian government contract.

It was the last truly impressive TLD launch, with 200,000 registrations on day one and over 1 million in its first year.

While the space is still stuffed with speculators, unlike some other TLDs .co is also widely, visibly used by its intended audience — start-ups and entrepreneurs.

.CO is known primarily for its marketing acumen — some new gTLD registries could learn a thing or two — which Neustar CEO Lisa Hook raised as a selling point in today’s press release:

By combining .CO Internet’s innovative domain marketing capabilities with Neustar’s distribution network and technical resources, we will be able to broaden our registry services and the .co brand worldwide, while creating shareholder value.

Neustar expects the deal to close within a month.

.CO Internet looking for more registrars

.CO Internet is expanding its registrar channel with a new Request For Proposals.

The company wants would-be registrars to respond with the commitments they’re willing to make to market and promote .co domains, particularly in markets where .co is not currently popular.

Only ICANN-accredited registrars need apply.

Amusingly, registrars also need to be specifically accredited to sell .biz domains. Presumably this is due to .CO’s relationship with back-end provider Neustar, which also runs .biz.

The company has about 30 registrars right now, but many of those operate very large reseller networks, so there’s no shortage of places to buy a .co if you want one.

.CO deliberately kept its registrar numbers low — only 10 at launch — in order to cut down on abuse and to keep a tighter leash on gaming during the 2010 landrush process.

The RFP can be found here.

Go Daddy claims half-boobed Super Bowl ads success

Kevin Murphy, February 4, 2013, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy reckons its two commercials broadcast in the US during the Super Bowl last night were the most successful in the company’s history, according to two key metrics.

The company said in a press release:

Last night’s ads delivered more new customers and more overall sales, as compared to any other Super Bowl campaign in the company’s history.

Go Daddy has been advertising during the game for nine years. This year was the third in which is has partnered with .CO Internet, the .co registry, on one of the ads.

One of the ads was shameless, vintage, attention-grabbing Go Daddy — primarily comprising a lingering shot of a passionate kiss between an attractive female model and a male geek archetype.

The other, which advertised .co, largely eschewed mammary glands in favor of the “Underpants Gnomes” theory of domain name advertising, in which registering a domain somehow leads to fabulous wealth.

ICM Registry used a similar tactic in its launch advertising late 2011.

The Super Bowl is the season finale of a little-played fringe sport known as “American Football”.

Viewers of the annual US broadcast traditionally pay special attention to the regular commercial interludes because the brief, fleeting moments of actual sport are so soul-sappingly tedious.

.co sees DUM grow by a quarter, renewals dip to 63%

Kevin Murphy, December 26, 2012, Domain Registries

.CO Internet said that domains under management in its .co TLD has grown by 24.39% so far in 2012, standing at about 1.4 million at the end of November.

In a blog post last week, the repurposed Colombian ccTLD registry also said that its “blended renewal rate” for the last few months is roughly 63%.

That’s down slightly from the 66% that .CO reported on its first general availability anniversary in July 2011.

Second-year renewals are higher, in the mid-70s, according to the company.

About 93% of its DUM are second-level .co domains, the rest are mostly Colombia-targeted .com.co names.

Blacknight dumps .ie from free domain program, replaces it with .co

Kevin Murphy, October 1, 2012, Domain Registrars

Blacknight Solutions has dropped its local ccTLD, .ie, from the free domain name program it offers in partnership with Google to Irish small businesses.

It’s being replaced with .co, the repurposed Colombian ccTLD, which has been getting an indecent amount of traction in regional projects targeting small business recently.

“Unfortunately, while we may be the market leader for .IE, we feel that the restrictions on the domain impose too many restraints to benefit program participants,” Blacknight CEO Michele Neylon said.

Supporting the highly restrictive ccTLD was imposing too many costs and headaches, Neylon said. The company will continue to sell the domains, just not through the program.

Blacknight, Google and the Irish postal service have been offering companies a free year domain registration and hosting under the banner of Getting Business Online for over a year.

In May, Blacknight reported that in the first year only about 21% of companies participating in the program chose .ie.

The .co domain is of course unrestricted.

It’s another regional win for .CO Internet, which markets .co as the TLD of choice for startups.

Just last week .CO Internet announced that Startup Britain, a private-sector entrepreneurial campaign backed by the UK government, had switched from a .org to a .co.