Stephane Van Gelder, who co-founded the French registrar Indom in 1999, is leaving the company at the end of the year.
He’s founding a new company, Stephane Van Gelder Consulting, saying he wants to provide consulting services to domain portfolio owners, registrars and registries.
Indom was acquired by European registrar holding company Group NBT two years ago for about $22 million.
Van Gelder was until October chair of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization Council, and has recently kindly provided DI with a few provocative guest posts.
Another big domain name registrar has come out in opposition to ICANN’s “digital archery” system for batching new top-level domain applications.
NetNames, part of Group NBT, has asked ICANN to delay digital archery – currently scheduled to kick off this Friday – until a better batching solution can be found.
In a letter to ICANN, general manager Stephane Van Gelder wrote:
As it stands, DA risks generating applicant confusion. It is a contentious system that seems to favour those with in-depth knowledge of the second-hand domain industry and more specifically, its drop-catching techniques.
There’s no denying that, of course. Pool.com and Digital Archery Experts are both offering archery services to new gTLD applicants based on this kind of insight.
NetNames is also concerned that the archery system was created without any formal community input, and therefore suggests it be delayed until after the Prague meeting later this month.
ICANN saw fit to take its TLD Application System (TAS) offline at the last minute and keep it that way for over a month as it sought to identify and correct a computer problem. We urge that the same flexibility be exercised with regards to batching, so that the currently proposed system, which is clearly flawed and unfair, be re-examined and adapted.
NetNames follows Melbourne IT, which expressed similar concerns to ICANN last week.
Van Gelder is of course also chair of the GNSO Council, though he wasn’t wearing that hat whilst writing this particular letter (pdf).
Following in the footsteps of larger rival Go Daddy, the UK-based registrar Group NBT has agreed to be bought out by private investors for £153 million ($236m).
NBT owns registrars including NetNames, Ascio and Indom.
The all-cash offer comes from investors led by HgCapital and represents a 22.5% premium on the company’s closing share price yesterday.
At 550p a share, the offer stands to make a profit for anybody who has bought NBT shares in the last ten years, according to the company.
The news came as NBT reported an annual profit, excluding certain items, up organically 9% at £8.9 million ($13.8m) on revenue that was up 4% at £45.7 million ($70.6m).
Including the results from French registrar Indom, which the company acquired last December, profit was up 18% at £9.6 million ($14.8m) on revenue up 13% to £49.5 million ($76.5m)
The NBT deal is merely the latest in a series of buyouts and mergers to hit the registrar market this year.
At least one city analyst thinks the buyout timing relates to ICANN’s forthcoming new generic top-level domains program, and is bullish on Top Level Domain Holdings shares as a result.
Will the wave of consolidation continue? Who’s next?
European registrar Group NBT has a pretty great domain for its new generic top-level domains consulting business: gTLD.com.
Under its NetNames corporate registrar brand, the company is targeting the “.brand” market, like so many others, judging by its recently relaunched web site.
Its services include pre-application consulting, help with applications, and ongoing management services, provided through its relationships with registry infrastructure partners.
It will also keep track of other ICANN gTLD applications and alert clients about potential cases of trademark infringement.
One thing’s for sure, new gTLD applicants in general are spoiled for choice now when it comes to selecting a consultant.