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New gTLDs bring back tiered renewal pricing

Kevin Murphy, November 10, 2013, Domain Registries

Only one mass-market TLD used it, and it’s often considered a bad idea, but variable pricing for domain name renewals is making a comeback with the launch of new gTLDs.

What Box? and Plan Bee are the first two new gTLD registries to start selling domains with tiered renewal fees, in .menu and .build respectively, via Go Daddy.

If you pay Go Daddy $189.99 for a “Priority Rre-registration” in .build, your annual renewal fee if you secure the name will be be $149.99, instead of the $99.99 other pre-registrants will pay.

Similarly, a Priority Pre-registration in .menu will set you back $199.99 a year, forever, instead of $49.99.

I understand that the standard Go Daddy initial registration fee for these two TLDs during general availability will also be $99.99 and $49.99 respectively.

The other two new gTLDs with announced pricing, .uno and .luxury, do not appear to be charging tiered rates.

Go Daddy confirmed that the renewal pricing will be permanently higher in the .build and .menu, telling us:

The industry is starting to move toward a tiered pricing system. As such, some registries have elected to make renewals higher on domain names captured during the priority pre-registration period.

It’s actually permitted under ICANN’s standard Registry Agreement.

Generally, the RA prevents registries charging variable renewal fees. If you find yourself running a successful business in a new gTLD, the registry is not allowed to gouge you for higher renewals.

There’s a provision in section 2.10 of the contract that is designed to “prohibit abusive and/or discriminatory Renewal Pricing practices imposed by Registry Operator”.

But the rule does not apply if you’re told at the point of registration that your renewal pricing will be higher.

The contract states that “Registry Operator must have uniform pricing for renewals of domain name registrations”, but grants this huge exception:

if the registrar has provided Registry Operator with documentation that demonstrates that the applicable registrant expressly agreed in its registration agreement with registrar to higher Renewal Pricing at the time of the initial registration of the domain name following clear and conspicuous disclosure of such Renewal Pricing to such registrant

The only major TLD to try variable pricing before now was .tv, which Verisign currently operates.

The .tv registry held back thousands of desirable strings when it launched in 2000. Instead of auctioning them, it priced these names to sell, but with renewal prices matching the initial registration fee.

If you bought a premium .tv name 10 years ago for $10,000, you’ve been paying $10,000 a year ever since.

This proved very unpopular — especially with domain investors, who continue to moan about the high carrying cost of .tv names bought years ago — and Verisign scrapped the policy on new registrations in 2010.

Some say tiered renewal pricing is the main reason .tv isn’t nearly as popular as it arguably should be.

But will it work in 2014?

Tiered renewal fees seems like an excellent way to discourage domainers from participating in your launch.

Would you be willing to pay higher renewal fees ad infinitum just for the chance for first dibs on the new gTLD domain name you want?

Jones distances herself from racy Go Daddy ads

Kevin Murphy, October 7, 2013, Domain Policy

Former Go Daddy general counsel Christine Jones has said she “didn’t particularly like” the company’s wildly successful, if sexually provocative, TV advertising.

Jones is one of several candidates for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the company’s home state of Arizona.

She began her campaign officially this week, having come out on Twitter in August, and spoke to The Republic.

Asked about the “racy” TV spots, which were often focused on a large-chested woman with the Go Daddy logo emblazoned on her skimpy attire, Jones told the paper:

A lot of people have asked me about the Go Daddy ads, and to be candid, I didn’t particularly like those ads, either. If I had been running marketing, the ads would’ve been very different. But in the grand scheme of things, the ads ended up being pretty harmless. The ads really made that company successful, and that success allowed me to focus my personal time on developing policy, which made the Internet a better and safer place for users, especially children. Once people get to know me and they differentiate the marketing spin, which is this kind of edgy, Go Daddy-esque style, from my role there — which was running a place that had a lot of serious people doing a lot of serious work — they’ll understand there is a difference.

Some locals seem to be assuming that Go Daddy will support Jones’ campaign, with the paper reporting that “Jones’ entry into the race has political insiders — and opponents — intrigued and even unsettled by her resume and potentially hefty financial backing.”

There’s not a great deal of information about Jones’ positions in the interview, however.

Go Daddy buys Afternic

Kevin Murphy, September 20, 2013, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy has strengthened its already pretty strong hand in the domain name aftermarket by acquiring Afternic from NameMedia for an undisclosed sum.

Afternic provides a centralized platform for listing domains for sale. About 100 registrars, including Go Daddy, carry its six million listings.

Go Daddy also offers its own customers a Premium Listings service. Integrating the two platforms will happen “over the coming months”, Go Daddy said.

Afternic usually reports about a million dollars of domain sales via its platform every week, but those figures don’t include private sales. It already has deals in place to sell premium names for several new gTLDs.

Some of Go Daddy’s biggest competitors — existing Afternic partners — appear to be happy about the move. Go Daddy’s press release quotes Tucows and Web.com executives giving the deal the thumbs-up.

Afternic did once belong to Register.com, one of Web.com’s registrars, but for the last six years it has been owned by NameMedia.

The deal also includes SmartName, NameMedia’s parking service, but not BuyDomains, where NameMedia sells its own portfolio of names. Go Daddy will take on Afternic’s Boston-based staff.

Go Daddy selling domains door-to-door in India

Kevin Murphy, August 29, 2013, Domain Registrars

Door-to-door sales have helped Go Daddy grow its Indian business by 86%, according to a company press release.

The market-leading registrar said today that the remarkable growth has come since it launched a customer support center in Hyderabad a year ago.

It’s taken 250,000 calls since then, Go Daddy said.

The company also pointed to some unconventional sales techniques:

Since launching on the ground in India, GoDaddy has connected with customers in a very personal way. A prime example is the recent “Cup of Coffee” campaign that demystified the process of leveraging the Internet by providing actual door-to-door demonstrations to show small businesses exactly how to get online. Professionally trained GoDaddy experts and GoDaddy Resellers engaged with prospective clients to demonstrate how beautiful websites can be built quickly. These personalized initiatives have helped fuel GoDaddy’s unprecedented growth.

Go Daddy’s reseller network in India has grown 88% since last year, the company added.

Former Go Daddy lawyer to run for Arizona governor

Kevin Murphy, August 12, 2013, Domain Registrars

Former Go Daddy general counsel Christine Jones wants to run for Governor of Arizona, it emerged last week.

Jones is planning to stand for the Republican nomination, filing her paperwork on Friday. She announced the move on Twitter:

Her campaign site plays on her record of testifying before the US Congress on internet-related issues such as fake pharmacies and child abuse materials, saying:

She also helped drive federal Internet-related legislation, including laws to keep the Web safe from child predators and rogue online pharmacies. For example, she helped push through bills such as the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act, the Protect Our Children Act, and the Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act.

“Helped drive” appears to be a reference to Congressional testimony such as her statements about Go Daddy’s anti-CAM practices in 2006.

As well as children, her site also ticks the usual Republican politician boxes of religion (she’s a church singer, apparently) and the military (her husband is a retired US Air Force officer).

Jones was with Go Daddy for 10 years, leaving in May 2012.

One of her final projects at the company was her vocal support for the Stop Online Piracy Act in late 2011, which ultimately proved a vote-loser among Go Daddy’s customers, forcing a company U-turn.

Most of Arizona’s governors have been Democrats. The incumbent, Jan Brewer, is a Republican. The last three have been female.

Go Daddy employs thousands of people in the state, when it would be much cheaper to ship those jobs overseas, something that could score Jones brownie points if she can figure out a way to take credit for it.

For Go Daddy, if Jones were to win, having a friend in high places would no doubt prove a boon. The election is next year.