Directi-affiliated TLD registry Radix, has won the private auction for the .website gTLD, according to Radix.
The company beat rival portfolio applicants Donuts and Top Level Domain Holdings to the string, in an auction that was managed by Innovative Auctions, likely one of several going on this week.
There’s no outstanding Governmental Advisory Committee advice or objections to the Radix application, so its path to contracting and eventual delegation should be relatively uncontroversial now.
The price was undisclosed, Innovative’s standard terms.
Directi is in the process of being acquired by Endurance International, owner of Domain.com, which promised Radix up to $62 million to help with its gTLD auctions.
Endurance International, owner of Domain.com and HostGator, plans to raise up to $400 million in a Nasdaq IPO, and said it will spend up to $110 million of that buying Directi, India’s largest domain registrar.
As part of the proposed acquisition, Endurance has also agreed to bankroll Directi’s new gTLD auctions to the tune of $62 million.
The acquisition is not final, and appears to depend on a number of targets related to the IPO and Directi’s revenue performance. Endurance’s S-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission reads:
In August 2013, we entered into a master share purchase agreement to acquire all of the outstanding capital stock of Directi from Directi Holdings, the seller, for an amount we estimate will be between $100 million and $110 million in cash or, at the election of the seller, a combination of cash and shares of our common stock, subject to the satisfaction or waiver of specified customary closing conditions and the achievement of specified financial targets.
The acquisition would close in the fourth quarter this year.
As well as running a top-ten registrar (and a few dozen others), Directi subsdiary Radix Registry has 29 active new gTLD applications, 26 of which are contested.
Endurance proposes to help Radix win these contention sets. On new gTLD auctions, the S-1 says:
in connection with our proposed acquisition of Directi, we entered into agreements with entities affiliated with Directi Holdings related to participation in the auction of new top level domain extensions and domain monetization activities, pursuant to which, among other things, we may be obligated to make aggregate cash payments of up to a maximum of approximately $62 million, subject to specified terms, conditions and operational contingencies.
Endurance is a complicated company. Its most familiar brands include Domain.com, iPage, FatCow, Homestead, Bluehost, HostGator, A Small Orange, iPower and Dotster.
But since December 2011 it has been controlled and majority owned by Warburg Pincus and Goldman Sachs, which paid a reported $975 million.
Its annual revenue for the last three calendar years has been $87.8 million, $190.3 million and $292.2 million. It’s currently not profitable, recording a net loss of $139.2 million in 2012.
It has seven million domains under management and had 3.4 million customers at the end of June 2013.
Judging by the S-1, the company has over a billion dollars of debt. Directi acquisition excluded, most of its IPO proceeds would go towards paying off some of that debt.
Directi has become the first TLD registry to start complying with the Uniform Rapid Suspension process for cybersquatting complaints.
From today, all .pw domain name registrations will be subject to the policy, which enables trademark owners to have domains suspended more quickly and cheaply than with UDRP.
URS was designed, and is obligatory, for all new gTLDs, but Directi decided to adopt the policy along with UDRP voluntarily, to help mitigate abuse in the ccTLD namespace.
URS requirements for gTLD registries have not yet been finalized, but this is moot as they don’t apply to .pw anyway.
To date, only two UDRP complaints have been filed over .pw domains.
The National Arbitration Forum will be handling URS complaints. Instructions for filing can be found here.
Directi is to offer preregistration for its uncontested gTLD applications, and it’s starting with .host.
The company will accept expressions of interest from potential registrants from June 17, where it has a booth at the HostingCon show in Austin, Texas, according to business head Sandeep Ramchandani.
Directi’s other two uncontested bids — .press and .space — will also get preregistration pages.
It’s the usual pre-reg deal: free and no-obligation.
While .host has not yet passed its Initial Evaluation, the company’s other applications have has a smooth ride so far so it’s a pretty reasonable assumption that this one will also pass.
The bid also has no objections and no special Governmental Advisory Committee advice.
While preregistration services have proved controversial in the past, they’re becoming increasingly common as new gTLDs start thinking about what a crowded market they’re walking into.
Directi’s .PW Registry has taken over 250,000 domain registrations in the two and a half months since it launched, largely thanks to growth in China.
According to recent DomainTools research, Chinese registrars such as DNSPod and Xin Net lead .pw sales, and .PW business head Sandeep Ramchandani told DI today that this trend is now even more noticeable.
The frankly surprising volume seems to be due largely to its low pricing and some aggressive registrar promotion. Xin Net, for example, sells .pw names for about $6 each, compared to $9 for .com.
While Chinese-script domains are available, most registrations are for Latin strings, Ramchandani said.
The 250,000 number excludes domains that have been deleted for abuse, of which there have been quite a lot.
Ramchandani said that the registry’s abuse department is staffed around the clock.
Directi is using NameSentry from Architelos to track abusive names and has made deals with the most-abused registrars to take down names at the registry level when they pop up, he said.