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Neustar’s .co contract up for grabs

Kevin Murphy, November 6, 2019, Domain Registries

Colombia is looking for a registry operator for its .co ccTLD.

If you’re interested, and you’re reading this before noon on Wednesday November 6 and you’re at ICANN 66 in Montreal, hightail it to room 514A for a presentation from the Colombian government that will be more informative than this blog post.

Hurry! Come on! Move it!

The Ministry of Information Technology and Communications (MinTIC) has published a set of documents describing some of the plan to find a potentially new home for .co.

There doesn’t appear to be a formal RFP yet, but I gather one is imminent.

What the documents do tell us is that Neustar’s contract to run .co expires in February, and that MinTIC is looking into the possibility of a successor registry.

Currently, .co is delegated to .CO Internet, a Colombian entity that relaunched the TLD in 2010 and was acquired by Neustar for $109 million in 2014.

But under a law passed earlier this year, it appears as if MinTIC is taking over policy management for .co and may therefore seek IANA redelegation.

There’s no indication I could see that there’s a plan to reverse the policy of allowing anyone anywhere in the world to register a .co, indeed MinTIC seems quite proud of its international success.

The documents also give us the first glimpse for years into .co’s growth.

It had 2,374,430 names under management in September, after a couple of years of slowing growth. The documents state that .co had an average of 323,590 new regs per year for the first seven years, which has since declined to an average of 32,396.

.co is not the cheapest TLD out there, renewing at around $25 at the low end.

.tech gTLD startups “raise $2 billion”

Kevin Murphy, August 28, 2019, Domain Registries

Tech startups using domain names in the .tech gTLD have raised $2 billion in venture capital financing over the last two years, according to Radix.

The registry looked at startups listed on Crunchbase as of June and found 650 companies using .tech domains. Of these, 170 of them had raised $2 billion in funding.

About 250 TLDs are in use by Crunchbase-listed startups, according to Radix.

According to a list provided by the company, funding amounts range from a modest $50,000 (obtained by the likes of the VR firm at virtualspaces.tech) to $620 million (obtained by the self-driving car company at aurora.tech).

Not every company on the list is still in business (if name resolution is any guide), and some of the .tech names bounce visitors to longer .com domains.

Meanwhile, domainer Morgan Linton has done a bit of similar research and discovered that 43% of the “top pick” startups appearing at Disrupt, the conference that like Crunchbase is owned by TechCrunch, are not using .com domains.

It’s a smaller sample size, but according to Linton, 18% of them use .io names. Most of the non-coms are on ccTLDs, in fact. The only new gTLD on his list is Google’s .app.

Disrupt made headlines in the domain world in 2010 when it launched its first conference web site on a .co domain, to coincide with the international launch of Colombia’s ccTLD by .CO Internet.

But that marketing deal lapsed after a year. Disrupt is back on techcrunch.com and disrupt.co is back in registry hands as a “premium” reserved name.

.co still appears on Linton’s list, however, so the initial partnership may still be bearing fruit.

.co first ccTLD to get China approval

Repurposed Colombian ccTLD .co has obtained official government approval to operate in China, according to a consultant whose client worked on the project.

Pinky Brand blogged this week that .co is the “first” foreign ccTLD to get the nod, among the raft of gTLDs that have gone down the same route over the last couple of years.

China’s own .cn and Chinese-script equivalents are of course already approved.

Under China’s policy regime, administered by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, TLD registries have to set up a local presence and agree to Draconian takedown policies.

Non-approved TLDs are not permitted to have resolving domains, under the rules.

Most companies seeking Chinese approval tend to use a local proxy provider such as ZDNS, which seems to be the route taken by .co here.

.co is managed by Neustar via its Colombian subsidiary .CO Internet.

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.

Blacknight now .co accredited

Irish registrar Blacknight Solutions has been approved as a .co registrar, according to the company.

It’s one of the ongoing second wave of .co registrars following the initial 10 used by .CO Internet at launch.

Judging by .CO’s web site, Blacknight will be the 18th registrar to get approval to sell directly (13th if you don’t count the jointly owned registrars on the list), as well as the smallest.

Previously, the company was like so many others a reseller of My.co, the Colombian channel-oriented registrar.

O.co loses 61% of its traffic to O.com

Overstock.com’s decision to rebrand itself O.co had a disastrous effect on the internet retailer’s traffic, according to its CEO.

Patrick Byrne told financial analysts yesterday that “O.co was my bad call” and that “about eight out of 13 people who were trying to visit us through O.co, eight were typing O.com”

It’s not clear what the source of the data is, or why the measurement given was out of 13, but it works out to 61%.

Byrne noted that people may have typed o.co instead after figuring out that o.com doesn’t work – it’s currently reserved, alongside most other single-letter .com domains, by Verisign.

His comments came as Overstock reported 2011 revenue down 3% to $1.05 billion and fourth-quarter revenue down 10% to $314 million.

Byrne said on a conference call with analysts:

There were some bad decisions for which I take responsibility in marketing O.co. O.co was odd in that it worked on one level. It did get out there into people’s heads, but what we discovered, and we turned it up slowly and we actually had nice adoption from the beginning of last year, gradually people shifting to O.co and then, but we got into the Christmas season and it worked terribly for people who were not familiar with us. There was a tremendous amount of traffic diverting to O.com and I think we’ve figured out that it was about eight out of 13 people who were trying to visit us through O.co, eight were typing O.com. Now some of them may have come, trying anyway.

The company bought o.co from registry .CO Internet for $350,000 in July 2010, during the .co relaunch. It later said it would rebrand the company on its new domain.

It even bought the naming rights to the Oakland Coliseum, which is now known as the O.co Coliseum.

Until quite recently, Overstock was an important .CO Internet reference customer. Now, I’m guessing, not so much.

Overstock has “slowed” its rebranding, reverting to referring to o.co as a “shortcut” rather than its primary address, which remains overstock.com.

The company bought o.info last year and this week launched the site as an information portal for its products. It also operates o.biz as a business-to-business site.