Demand Media has announced a new web publishing service that it says is designed specifically for new gTLD registrants, at the category-killing domain Designs.com.
Designs.com will provide users with tools to quickly build web sites for their new domains, with no coding experience required, according to the site.
Conceptually, there’s nothing new about selling do-it-yourself web site building services alongside domain names of course; they’ve been around for over a decade.
But Demand says it’s tailoring the product to niche gTLDs, promoting certain features depending on the gTLD string in which the customer has bought. From a press release:
“A consumer using .FAN needs features related to sharing, ‘liking’ and growing a community, while a professional using .ARCHITECT needs features related to a strong visual portfolio and self-promotion,” explained Nick Nelson, general manager of Designs.com for Demand Media. “Until today, tools and templates have been designed for no-one in particular. New gTLDs are for specific audiences, so we must have tools that create a web presence with the same tailored approach, making the website and web address inseparable.”
It’s exactly the kind of marketing effort that new gTLDs are going to need if they’re going to be successful, particularly if they’re targeting greenfield opportunities such as small business owners.
Based on the little we know today, it almost sounds like innovation.
The Designs.com service will be made available via partnering registrars, according to the company. We can only assume that eNom and Name.com are a shoo-ins.
On the registry side, there’s nothing stopping the company adding the service to pretty much every new gTLD for which, as a registrar, it is accredited.
Demand has 26 active new gTLD applications and has rights to buy into about 100 of Donuts’ gTLDs, should they be approved by ICANN and win their contention sets.
Verisign wants ICANN to publish a list of all the reasons it might be sued over the new gTLD program, claiming security and stability risks might be one of them.
In the latest salvo fired in its war against new gTLDs, the company now suggests that the $115 million “risk fund” surplus that ICANN has accumulated is for fending off lawsuits when it breaks the internet.
In a letter (pdf) sent Friday, Verisign asks ICANN to justify the existence of this war chest in light of the fact that it has managed to secure legal indemnities from pretty much everyone involved in the program.
It attempts to link the risk fund to the possible security risks of introducing new gTLDs to the internet, which Verisign has been haranguing ICANN about for the last few months.
“We believe ICANN should be forthcoming about the risks it is shifting and the need for the substantial risk reserve fund, in particular,” the letter, signed by general counsel Richard Goshorn, says.
It’s been well known for a few years that $60,000 of each $185,000 new gTLD application fee was to be allocated to a risk fund created to cover unexpected extra program costs.
The reserve was designed to cover things like underestimating the costs or time needed to evaluate applications, but also, crucially, the lawsuits that ICANN expected but has not yet received.
The cash pile is often to referred to, usually with black humor, as the “legal defense fund”.
Now Verisign seems to be saying that the legal risks are not limited to trademark disputes or the usual antitrust nonsense, but to the security risks ICANN is “transferring” to others.
As we’ve been reporting for the last few months, Verisign has suddenly decided that new gTLDs pose a risk to the internet, largely due to the potential for clashes between newly delegated strings and the unnofficial domains that many organizations already use on their intranets.
For a great discussion on the merits of this argument check out this DI article and comment thread.
With the latest letter, Verisign suggests that ICANN knows it might be sued for messing up corporate intranets, but is keeping that fact quiet.
Referring to a report it issued in March, when its security concerns first emerged, it says:
We believe that ICANN may have established and be maintaining the Risk Reserve in such a high amount in anticipation of significant claims relating to one or more risks identified in the Verisign Report.
If ICANN does get sued on these grounds, the defense cost will effectively have been covered by new gTLD applicants (and therefore their customers, assuming the costs are passed on), Verisign says.
It’s therefore asking for ICANN to disclose the reasons why its risk fund is so big, “in particular, the details regarding what ‘possible litigation’ factored into ICANN’s decisions”.
In other words, Verisign is asking ICANN to publish a list of reasons people might sue it, something I can’t imagine its general counsel agreeing to any time soon.
Is this an effort to shame ICANN into taking its security concerns more seriously, or just more FUD designed to disrupt the new gTLD program and protect its .com dominance?
Opinions, no doubt, will be split.
At least two new gTLD applicants reckon ICANN has screwed up their Initial Evaluation, flunking their applications due to missing or mishandled communications.
Following Friday’s batch of IE results, which saw four failures, one angry applicant got in touch with DI to complain about discrepancies in how his bids were scored.
Dot Registry has applied for five “corporate identifier” strings — .inc, .corp, .ltd, .llc and .llp — and has made decent progress convincing the powers that be that they will be operated responsibly.
On Friday, its .inc bid passed its Initial Evaluation with flying colors while .llc and .ltd were marked as “Eligible For Extended Evaluation”, a polite code phrase for #fail.
Both of the unsuccessful bids scored 0 on question 50, “Funding Critical Registry Functions”, which is an automatic failure no matter what the overall score on the financial evaluation.
Applicants are scored on question 50 from 0 to 3 by showing that they have a “Continuing Operations Instrument” to cover three years of operations in the event that their registry fails.
Most applicants have been submitting letters of credit supplied by their bank, which promise to pay ICANN these emergency funds should the need arise.
A zero score indicates basically that no COI was provided.
But CEO Shaul Jolles claims that Dot Registry submitted a single letter of credit to cover all five applications, later amended at ICANN’s request so that each string in the portfolio was broken out individually.
“We then received a note that they now have whatever they needed and it’s resolved,” he said.
He noted that .inc, which passed on Friday with maximum score of 3, is covered by exactly the same LOC as the two applications that scored a 0, which doesn’t make much sense.
A second applicant, which does not currently wish to be named, has told DI that it failed its financial evaluation on a question for which it received no Clarifying Questions.
CQs are the handy method by which ICANN gave applicants a second shot at getting their applications right. Hundreds have been issued, the vast majority related to financial questions.
The common complaint to both failing applicants is that at no point did ICANN inform the applicant that its application was deficient.
We understand both applicants are currently in touch with ICANN management in order to try to get their predicaments resolved.
ICANN has just released 96 new Initial Evaluation results, a batch which doubles the number of failures the first phase of the new gTLD program has produced.
The following applications failed to receive passing scores and are now “Eligible for Extended Evaluation”:
- .locus — a strange and ambitious-sounding single-registrant bid filed by Locus Analytics. The company scored 6 out of the necessary 8 points on its financial evaluation with zero scores on the Financial Statements and Funding Critical Registry Functions questions.
- .llc — This is the bid filed by Dot Registry, the company that seems to have a degree of governmental support for its portfolio of corporate identifier bids. It scored a 0 on its Funding Critical Registry Functions question.
- .ltd — Another Dot Registry bid. Failed for the same reason.
- .life — A values-oriented open gTLD application filed by Canadian company CompassRose.Life. Scored a zero on its Financial Statements.
ICANN said last week that it was changing the way it scored the “Funding Critical Registry Functions” question, due to the problems many applicants have been having with Continuing Operations Instruments.
That change only seemed to hit applications with scores of 1, however, so it does not appear to apply in the cases of today’s failed bids.
Applications for the following strings received passing scores.
.legal .sbi .inc .americanfamily .lacaixa .voting .realestate .rest .pfizer .macys .gift .hangout .clinic .blockbuster .lixil .cbre .blog .new .fund .prudential .tab .anquan .group .sale .gay .art .sandvik .security .now .social .shoes .qpon .sohu .fedex .storage .caseih .blog .online .cricket .gal .vip .app .moe .buzz .show .promo .music .cbn .dhl .attorney .sports .legal .football .acer .direct .open .dds .capetown .app .furniture .telefonica .eus .calvinklein .toys .eat .book .axis .casino .ren .crs .baby .ladbrokes .show .call .tech .solar .sanofi .toyota .ubank .canalplus .lexus .immo .moto .hyundai .green .ismaili .health .trading .marketing .llc .xihuan .gratis
We’re now up to 720 passes and 8 failures in the program, with 1,124 results still to be announced.
Today DI PRO is launching a new live dashboard for new gTLD program statistics.
The idea is to give users quick and easy access to key program metrics.
Want to know the maximum number of gTLDs that can be delegated in the current round? It’s 1,365.
Want to know how many contention sets remain? It’s 222.
Want to know how many how many applications have failed Initial Evaluation? It’s 4.
Here’s a partial screenshot:
While almost all of this data has been easily accessible via the DI PRO New gTLD Application Tracker for months, the new Live Stats interface provides a quicker, at-a-glance view.
All the stats are generated live from the DI PRO database, which is updated at least once a day with the current status of all 1,930 new gTLD applications. New IE results are added Fridays at 8pm UTC.
What’s more, users can drill down into detailed search results by clicking the stat they’re interested in.
User previews have been positive, but we’re always open to suggestions if there’s a stat you’d like to see included.
Subscribers can check it out here: Live New gTLD Stats.