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Straat-backed bidder beats Donuts and Afilias to .health

Kevin Murphy, August 21, 2014, Domain Registries

DotHealth has won the four-way contention set for the controversial new gTLD .health.

Afilias and Donuts both withdrew their competing applications this week. Famous Four withdrew its application over a month ago.

DotHealth is backed by Straat Investments, the investment vehicle chaired by .CO Internet’s Juan Calle.

The new gTLD will run on a Neustar (which now owns .CO) back-end.

.health is likely to be restricted, or at least policed, to ensure fake pharmacies are scrubbed from the zone.

DotHealth is supported by, among other health groups, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) which often targets registries and registrars in its campaigns against bogus online pharmacies in the US.

The company plans to use LegitScript to monitor its namespace.

.health will compete against the unrestricted .healthcare, which has been delegated to Donuts.

All four applicants for .health faced adverse Governmental Advisory Committee advice and unsuccessful public interest objections from the Independent Objector.

New gTLD registries increasingly attacking .com

Kevin Murphy, August 18, 2014, Domain Registries

Is .com “silly” and “meaningless”?

That’s what some new gTLD registries would have you believe.

In separate blog posts over the last week, Donuts and ARI Registry Services have gone on the offensive, dismissing .com as an irrelevant relic of a bygone age.

ARI CEO Adrian Kinderis branded .com as “meaningless and unintuitive” in a post slamming the Board of Racing Victoria, an Australian horse-racing organization, for the purchase of racing.com for (he claimed) $500,000.

New gTLDs with more semantic relevance to horse racing or geographic regions will make this purchase look “silly” in future, he said.

Take for instance .racing which is set to launch soon. It would offer a more creative and relevant domain name such as horses.racing, victorian.racing or vichorses.racing.

He also said that most Australians are conditioned to visit .com.au (for which ARI provides the registry back-end), which will lead to traffic leakage from racing.com to racing.com.au.

The problem is that racing.com does not have an intrinsic connection with Victorian horse racing that would lend itself to intuitive navigation and recall.

Donuts had a similar message in a blog post last week.

Donuts vice president Mason Cole said on that company’s blog that .com is “diluted and meaningless” when compared to more vertically oriented TLDs such as Donuts’ .photography and .bike.

It adds nothing to an identity. Except perhaps to say, “I’m on the Internet somewhere.” .COM is “1999″ — not “today,” and definitely not the future. New .COM registrations are extraordinarily long and much less meaningful when compared to a new registration in a new gTLD. And with its recent price decreases on new registrations (which apparently is necessary to match their low quality), .COM now means “low quality and cheap.”

It will be interesting to see whether this kind of messaging will be carried over from lightly trafficked corporate blogs into more mainstream new gTLD marketing by registries.

What do you think? Do Donuts and ARI have a point? Is .com meaningless? Will it fall out of fashion? Is going negative on legacy gTLDs a wise strategy for new gTLD companies?

Donuts wins .ltd gTLD contest

Kevin Murphy, August 15, 2014, Domain Registries

Donuts has emerged the victor of the contention set for .ltd, beating six other applicants for the new gTLD.

Dot Registry, NU DOT CO, Afilias and myLTD all withdrew their applications this week, evidently after a private auction.

LTD Registry and C.V. TLDcare withdrew their applications in April and May respectively.

The string is of course an abbreviation for “limited” as in “limited liability company”, used by privately held companies in many companies including the UK.

While bids for comparable TLDs such as .inc, .corp and .gmbh have received criticism from company regulators in the US and Germany, .ltd hasn’t raised as much of a ruckus.

Like all Donuts gTLDs, it looks like .ltd is set to be unrestricted.

I’m not a fan of corporate identifier TLDs. They always strike me as more prone to defensive registrations than other, more descriptive strings.

Donuts wins .immo gTLD

Donuts has acquired the .immo new gTLD after its three rival bidders withdrew their applications.

Minds + Machines, dotimmobilie and Starting Dot have all withdrawn from the contest in the last few days, presumably due to an auction.

Starting Dot had applied for a Community Priority Evaluation, which would have allowed it to avoid an auction altogether, but it failed to score enough points to pass.

“Immo” is short for “immobilien”, which means “real estate” in German. The contraction is also widely used in other European countries, potentially making it more attractive a string.

The gTLD will compete with .immobilien, which is delegated to RightSide. That TLD has been in general availability since May 28 and has 5,136 domains under management as of today.

It would be fascinating to know whether .immobilien’s performance to date had any bearing on how much the applicants were prepared to bid at auction. But, as usual, I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.

Donuts spends $50 million on new gTLD auctions

Donuts has revealed that its bill for new gTLD auctions has so far come to $50 million.

That, coupled with some other data released in a blog post last week, suggests that it’s spent over $2 million, on average, per gTLD.

CEO Paul Stahura wrote that the company has participated in “roughly” 50 auctions and that it’s won more than 50% of those it’s participated in.

“We’ve spent $50M to win those auctions to secure the resulting TLDs,” Stahura wrote.

According to my numbers, Donuts has been in 45 auctions and won 23. I may be missing a couple, but the numbers fit with Stahura’s. That would make an average spend of $2.17 million per gTLD.

That doesn’t mean the company has burnt through $50 million of its funding, of course.

In private gTLD auctions, the winner pays the losers. By losing at least 22 auctions, Donuts could just as easily be breaking even.

Not all of Donuts’ auctions have been organized by Applicant Auction. A few were settled via other means. Applicant Auction takes a 4% cut, which means its take so far is approaching $2 million.