NameCheap may have sold over a million .xyz domains, but apparently it will sell no more than that.
The registrar confirmed to DI this evening that it is no longer taking .xyz registrations. It declined to explain why.
It has also stopped selling .college and .rent domains — two other gTLDs owned by XYZ.com. Other new gTLDs are not affected.
It’s reportedly not accepting inbound transfers either, though existing domains can be renewed.
The switch-off happened at the end of last month, a NameCheap representative said.
That’s just one month after the registrar celebrated its one millionth .xyz registration, which XYZ.com commemorated with a blog post bigging up NameCheap’s user-customers.
The move is peculiar indeed. NameCheap is the third highest-volume .xyz registrar, behind West.cn and Uniregistry, responsible for about 15% of .xyz’s domains under management.
It’s also NameCheap’s biggest direct-selling gTLD by a considerable margin.
NameCheap is well-known as primarily an eNom reseller — it accounts for 28% of eNom’s domains under management and 18% of its revenue, largely from .com sales.
But with new gTLDs it has started selling domains on its own IANA ticker, meaning a direct connection to the registry and more gross profit for itself.
According to June’s registry reports, the million .xyz names accounted for roughly two thirds of NameCheap’s total DUM (not counting names sold via eNom).
The closet rival in its portfolio is .online, which provided the registrar with about 81,000 DUM.
The registrar added about 350,000 .xyz domains in June, a month in which it briefly offered them at $0.02 each.
At that time, the company reported technical issues that led to a 12-24 hour backlog of registrations to process, though its blog post announcing the problem appears to have since been deleted.
NameCheap has declined to comment on the reason for the surprise move, and XYZ did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The fact that all of XYZ.com’s TLDs have been cut off suggests some kind of dispute between the two companies, but the fact that renewals can still be processed would suggest that NameCheap has not lost its .xyz accreditation.
More info if I get it…
GoDaddy has published a new specification designed to make it easier for domain owners to quickly set up web sites using third-party site-building tools.
Its new Domain Connect Initiative is tailored for customers who do not know how to configure a DNS record and do not care to learn,according to Charles Beadnall, senior VP of domains.
While signing up for a participating site-building service, Shopify for example, customers currently have to either figure out how to manually reconfigure their DNS or get GoDaddy’s customer support to talk them through it.
GoDaddy currently receives tens of thousands of customer support calls every year related to these scenarios, Beadnall said.
But using Domain Connect, instead they will be able to simply enter their domain name with Shopify and, after authenticating with their registrar (via OAUTH), their domain’s DNS will be automatically configured to point to their new site.
This saves the customer’s time and GoDaddy’s money.
Under the hood, it works using a series of templates, authored by the service providers, which instruct the registrar or DNS provider in how to set up the domain to use the service, Beadnall said.
Due to the high risk of malicious exploitation, it’s not completely frictionless. Service provider templates must be manually pre-approved and white-listed by registrars, Beadnall said.
As the system does not involve domain registration or transfer it’s not really within ICANN’s policy wheelhouse, so the spec has instead been published via the IETF.
It has already been embraced by leading rival registrars eNom, Name.com and United Domains, as well as toolmakers including Microsoft, Shopify and Wix.
The announcement of Domain Connect was made a couple of weeks ago while I was off sick.
More information and documentation can be found on the Domain Connect web site.
Web.com has acquired dozens of registrars from rival/partner Rightside, seemingly to boost the success rate of its SnapNames domain drop-catching business.
I’ve established that at least 44 registrars once managed by Rightside/eNom have moved to the Web.com stable in recent weeks, and that might not even be the half of it.
All of the registrars in question are shell companies used exclusively to register pre-ordered names as they are deleted by registries, usually Verisign.
The more registrars you have, the more EPP connections you have to the Verisign registry and the better your chance at catching a domain.
Web.com runs SnapNames, and is in a 50-50 partnership with Rightside on rival drop-catcher NameJet.
The two compete primarily with NameBright’s DropCatch.com, which obtained hundreds of fresh ICANN accreditations last year, bringing its total pool to over 750.
Web.com has fewer than 400 accreditations right now. Rightside has even fewer.
It’s usually quicker to buy a registrar than to obtain a new accreditation from ICANN.
If Web.com finds itself in need of more accreditations in order to compete, and Rightside is happy to let them go, it could be possible to infer that SnapNames is doing rather better in terms of customer acquisition than NameJet.
But the two services recently announced a partnership under which names grabbed by either network would be placed in an auction in which customers of either site could participate.
This would have the effect of increasing the number of caught names going to auction due to there being multiple bidders, and thus the eventual sales prices.
Rightside used its first quarter earnings call yesterday to address, albeit indirectly, some of the criticisms recently leveled at it by activist investors and competitors.
CEO Taryn Naidu revealed for the first time how the company sees the new gTLD market playing out in the longer term.
He said than in three to five years, Rightside expects annual revenue from its registry business to come it at $50 million to $75 million.
That’s a hell of a lot more than it makes today.
In the first quarter, registry revenue was $2.6 million, compared to $1.6 million a year ago. Annualized, that’s a shade over $10 million.
On the back of an envelope, Rightside seems to need roughly 50% growth per year over five years to hit the low end of its target.
Naidu told analysts that one factor built into this projection is that third-party registrars will start to sell just as many new gTLD domains as Rightside’s registrars do.
Currently, Rightside sees 15% to 20% new gTLD, but with others it’s 3% to 5%, he said.
Naidu said he expects margins to be 20% at the EBITDA level.
The revelation of these targets may go some way to address investor concerns that Rightside is putting too much effort into its new gTLD business at the expense of its cash-generating registrars.
Naidu last night also addressed concerns about eNom, which Cannell had called a “time capsule” due to its aging user experience.
He admitted that eNom is “encumbered by some older technology” but said it was being fixed.
“Later this quarter we will be rolling out the first phase of our development efforts, which include a dramatically revamped user interface, a new suite of software development tools and a new developer hub to help our partners learn, develop and test faster,” he said.
The registrar business brought in $44 million in the quarter, up from $41.9 million. Aftermarket revenue was $9.3 million compared to $7.3 million.
Overall, revenue was up 9% at $55.1 million, with a net loss of $5.1 million. That compared to income of $1.9 million a year ago.
Naidu also seemed to obliquely address the criticism that a lot of Rightside’s new gTLDs are shit — .democrat, .dance, .army, .navy, and .airforce have been singled out by Cannell and others — by talking about how the company doesn’t necessarily put the same amount of effort into marketing its whole stable.
Some gTLDs will be marketed more heavily later, he said, comparing it to a real estate owner holding on to parcels of land for later development.
Naidu also talked up Rightside’s prospects in China, where apparently .pub is doing quite well because registrants think it means “public” rather than “drinking establishment”.
A hedge fund manager known for causing trouble at the companies he invests in has savaged Rightside, saying its focus on new gTLDs at the expense of its registrar business is ruining the company.
J Carlo Cannell of Cannell Capital is looking for some serious bloodletting.
He wants Rightside to cut 20% of its staff, close offices, unify its products under the eNom brand and replace two of its directors.
He’s threatening to wage a proxy war to replace the Rightside board if he doesn’t get what he wants.
He wrote a scathing letter to Rightside chair Dave Panos last month, which was published in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing today.
NAME’s registrar has become like a crazy aunt kept in the basement, one that you refuse to adequately clothe or feed, but who steadfastly spins straw into gold used to subsidize a stable of largely substandard new GTLDs such as .democrat, .dance, .army, .navy, and .airforce. Most of these new GTLDs are irrelevant and will never be sold in material volumes. NAME is holding back the growth potential of your registrar by pushing garbage extensions to a user base that quietly knows better.
NAME is Rightside’s Nasdaq ticker symbol.
Cannell revealed he owned a 7% share of Rightside last month — paying reportedly just shy of $11 million for 1,389,953 shares.
He wants Rightside to sell off “or even abandon” some of its weaker gTLDs, which “should not consume all the resources of our Company at the expense of the assets that are currently profitable”, while keeping “gems” such as .news.
His letter doesn’t pull any punches.
Cannell is perhaps best known for his widely publicized tussle with Jim Cramer, TV show host and co-founder of financial news site TheStreet.