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Ramchandani promoted to Radix CEO

Kevin Murphy, January 15, 2018, Domain Registries

New gTLD registry Radix has appointed long-time business head Sandeep Ramchandani as CEO.

He’s replacing Bhavin Turakhia, who is CEO of parent company Directi and executive chairman of Radix.

Ramchandani had a lot of autonomy as business head and VP of the company and, in my view, has been basically CEO in all but name for years. I’ve accidentally called him CEO in the pages of DI more than once.

In a press release, he said: “Just as the first few years of Radix were about demonstrating proof of concept, the next few will be about growing awareness and delivering accelerated growth. We are also actively looking to acquire more TLD assets to reach newer segments of the market while leveraging economies of scale.”

The company has a portfolio of nine gTLDs, including .website, .store and .online, and recently announced that its 2017 revenue topped $12 million.

Directi joins Domain.com family in $100m deal

Kevin Murphy, January 29, 2014, Domain Registrars

Endurance International, the holding company behind brands such as Domain.com and HostGator has closed the acquisition of top ten registrar Directi and some related companies.

The acquisition, which was announced last September is worth between $100 million and $110 million — $25.5 million in cash and the rest in shares and a promissory note.

The deal includes Directi properties BigRock (a registrar), ResellerClub (the reseller-focused registrar), LogicBoxes (the registrar management service) and webhosting.info.

It does not include Radix Registry, the company that applied for 31 new gTLDs, 28 of which applications are still active.

Directi CEO Bhavin Turakhia “has agreed to be closely involved in the integration of the two companies”, but it doesn’t sound like he’s taking on a permanent role at Endurance.

Endurance may not be a familiar brand in and of itself, but its businesses include Bluehost, HostGator, Domain.com, FatCow, iPage and Mojo Marketplace.

Cops can’t block domain transfers without court order, NAF rules

Kevin Murphy, January 12, 2014, Domain Registrars

Law enforcement and IP owners were dealt a setback last week when the National Arbitration Forum ruled that they cannot block domain transfers unless they have a court order.

The ruling could make it more difficult for registrars to acquiesce to requests from police trying to shut down piracy sites, as they might technically be in breach of their ICANN contracts.

NAF panelist Bruce Meyerson made the call in a Transfer Dispute Resolution Policy ruling after a complaint filed by EasyDNS against Directi (PublicDomainRegistry.com).

You’re probably asking right about now: “The what policy?”

I had to look it up, too.

TDRP, it turns out, has been part of the ICANN rulebook since the Inter-Registrar Transfer Policy was adopted in 2004.

It’s designed for disputes where one registrar refuses to transfer a domain to another. As part of the IRTP, it’s a binding part of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement.

It seems to have been rarely used in full over the last decade, possibly because the first point of complaint is the registry for the TLD in question, with only appeals going to a professional arbitrator.

Only NAF and the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre are approved to handle such cases, and their respective records show that only one TDRP appeal has previously filed, and that was in 2013.

In the latest case, Directi had refused to allow the transfer of three domains to EasyDNS after receiving a suspension request from the Intellectual Property Crime Unit of the City of London Police.

The IPCU had sent suspension requests, targeting music download sites “suspected” of criminal activity, to several registrars.

The three sites — maxalbums.com, emp3world.com, and full-albums.net — are all primarily concerned with hosting links to pirated music while trying to install as much adware as possible on visitors’ PCs.

The registrants of the names had tried to move from India-based Directi to Canada-based EasyDNS, but found the transfers denied by Directi.

EasyDNS, which I think it’s fair to say is becoming something of an activist when it come to this kind of thing, filed the TDRP first with Verisign then appealed its “No Decision” ruling to NAF.

NAF’s Meyerson delivered a blunt, if reluctant-sounding, win to EasyDNS:

Although there are compelling reasons why the request from a recognized law enforcement agency such as the City of London Police should be honored, the Transfer Policy is unambiguous in requiring a court order before a Registrar of Record may deny a request to transfer a domain name… The term “court order” is unambiguous and cannot be interpreted to be the equivalent of suspicion of wrong doing by a policy agency.

To permit a registrar of record to withhold the transfer of a domain based on the suspicion of a law enforcement agency, without the intervention of a judicial body, opens the possibility for abuse by agencies far less reputable than the City of London Police.

That’s a pretty unambiguous statement, as far as ICANN policy is concerned: no court order, no transfer block.

It’s probably not going to stop British cops trying to have domains suspended based on suspicion alone — the Metropolitan Police has a track record of getting Nominet to suspend thousands of .uk domains in this way — but it will give registrars an excuse to decline such requests when they receive them, if they want the hassle.

Directi’s Radix wins .website gTLD auction

Kevin Murphy, October 23, 2013, Domain Registries

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.

Domain.com owner files for $400m IPO, to spend $110m buying Directi

Kevin Murphy, September 10, 2013, Domain Registrars

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.

URS is live today as .pw voluntarily adopts it

Kevin Murphy, July 29, 2013, Domain Policy

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 launches pre-reg site for .host gTLD

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.

China pushes .pw to over 250,000 names

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.

Today’s new gTLD withdrawals: .play and .design

Two new gTLD applications have been withdrawn today: Directi’s .play and Starting Dot’s .design.

They’re the second application to be withdrawn by Directi after .movie, which it pulled last month for undisclosed reasons, and the first of Starting Dot’s five bids to die.

Starting Dot said that it has bowed out of the .design fight because there were “simply too many” other applicants in the contention set: eight including itself.

“It is now setting its focus and energy supporting and helping to grow its four other domains, and especially the two which are single applicant, .ARCHI and .BIO,” the company said.

I don’t believe either string was the subject of the private auctions that are happening this week. At least, they weren’t on the lists published by Demand Media or Donuts.

Directi’s .play bid, the first of the four-way contention set to be withdrawn, faces competition from Amazon and Google — both with “closed generic” models — as well as Famous Four Media.

The gTLD deadpool now comprises 71 withdrawals.

Directi’s t.co? Single-letter .pw sold to Upworthy

Directi has sold u.pw to social media linking service Upworthy for what is likely to be a five-figure sum.

Upworthy will use the domain for its custom link-shorteners.

It’s the third announced single-character .pw sale to be announced. The first two, w.pw and p.pw were sold to a hosting company for $8,000 each.

I expect u.pw sold for a little more, judging by the catalog of single-letter names listed on PremiumDomains.pw, which have buy-it-now prices of $10,000 to $12,000.

It’s potentially a nicer deal in terms of visibility for the recently relaunched ccTLD too.

Year-old Upworthy, which has been funded to the tune of $4 million, is a viral video site for “worthy” content, meaning its main purpose is to have its links spread far and wide.

Another recently relaunched ccTLD, had a similar — if much more high-profile — anchor tenant in Twitter, which bought t.co for its in-house URL shortening service.

At one point, single-character .co domains were said to be selling for $1.5 million a pop, which just goes to show how far a nice TLD string can impact prices.