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Architelos: shadiest new gTLD is only 10% shady

Kevin Murphy, September 4, 2015, Domain Registries

Disputing the recent Blue Coat report into “shady” new gTLDs, domain security firm Architelos says that the shadiest namespace is just under 10% shady.

That’s a far cry from Blue Coat’s claim earlier this week that nine new gTLDs are 95% to 100% abusive.

Architelos shared with DI a few data points from its NameSentry service today.

NameSentry uses a metric the company calls NQI, for Namespace Quality Index, to rank TLDs by their abuse levels. NQI is basically a normalized count of abusive domains per million registered names.

According to Architelos CEO Alexa Raad, the new gTLD with the highest NQI at the end of June was .work.

Today’s NameSentry data shows that .work has a tad under 6,900 abusive domains — almost all domains found in spam, garnished with just one suspected malware site — which works out to just under 10% of the total number of domains in its zone file.

That number is pretty high — one in 10 is not a figure you want haunting your registry — but it’s a far cry from the 98.2% that Blue Coat published earlier this week.

Looking at the numbers for .science, which has over 324,000 names in its zone and 15,671 dodgy domains in NameSentry, you get a shadiness factor of 4.8%. Again, that’s a light year away from the 99.35% number published by Blue Coat.

Raad also shared data showing that hundreds of .work and .science domains are delisted from abuse feeds every day, suggesting that the registries are engaged in long games of whack-a-mole with spammers.

Blue Coat based its numbers on a sampling of 75 million attempted domain visits by its customers — whether or not they were valid domains.

Architelos, on the other hand, takes raw data feeds from numerous sources (such as SpamHaus and SURBL) and validates that the domains do actually appear in the TLD’s zone. There’s no requirement for the domain to have been visited by a customer.

In my view, that makes the NameSentry numbers a more realistic measurement of how dirty some of these new gTLDs are.

M+M gets $3.5m from two gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, August 27, 2015, Domain Sales

Minds + Machines secured loser fees totaling $3.5 million from its participation in .art and .data new gTLD auctions, the company disclosed today.

It seems .data was auctioned recently. It was a three-applicant string and none of the applicants have yet withdrawn their applications.

It seems either Donuts or brand applicant Dish DBS won the string.

The .art auction happened well over a month ago, with the final losing applicant withdrawing on July 23.

UK Creative Ideas won .art. Whatever it paid for the string would have been shared between nine competing applicants.

M+M also said that “strong interest” (presumably no sales yet) has been expressed in its $15,000+ “super premium” registry-reserved names, and that it has sold 20 premium names in its .london auction last month.

Carlsberg snaps up 150 .beer domains, including the most British domain I’ve ever seen

Brewing giant Carlsberg has joined Minds + Machines’ pioneer program for the .beer gTLD, buying 150 brand and generic .beer domains.

M+M said today that football.beer, which is arguably a more British domain than gov.uk, is among Carlsberg’s new portfolio.

The registry said in a press release: “football.beer will help support the company’s far-reaching commitment to the football. Carlsberg is a leading sponsor of UEFA EURO 2016, the Barclays Premier League, and Liverpool Football Club.”

The brewer will also use quality.beer in its marketing.

Trademarks baltika.beer, tuborg.beer, holsten.beer and kronenbourg.beer have also been acquired.

Carlsberg is the fifth-largest brewer in the world and fourth-largest in the UK, with annual global revenue of $9.5 billion.

The .beer gTLD could use the publicity. It has been in general availability since September last year. Today, it has fewer than 7,800 names in its zone file.

M+M sells net.work for $100,000

Minds + Machines has made its first six-figure new gTLD domain sale.

The domain net.work was sold in a private deal to business consultancy BearingPoint for $100,000, the company said today.

It added that a “significant annual renewal fee” applies.

It’s one of 430 premium domains to have been sold in .work, M+M said, since it went to general availability in February.

The gTLD had just shy of 55,000 domains in its zone file yesterday, recent growth partly attributable to a deep discounting program.

M+M’s registrar currently sells .work domains for less than $2.

Krueger removed as chair as M+M finally starts seeing some revenue

Minds + Machines co-founder Fred Krueger has been kicked out of his job as executive chairman of the company.

The news came as the new gTLD registry reported its first full year of results as a proper, revenue-generating company.

The company reported revenue of $1.9 million for 2014, compared to $56,000 in 2013.

Its report includes a “cash revenue” line of $5 million, to show off revenues that it has deferred to future periods due to standard domain industry accounting.

For accounting purposes, M+M was profitable to the tune of $22 million for the year, but almost none of that is from actually selling domains — $33.7 million of profit came from losing new gTLD auctions.

That’s not a sustainable or predictable part of the business — nobody knows exactly when or if ICANN will launch the next round of new gTLDs — but it did help M+M grow its cash pile to $45.7 million.

That pile may grow or shrink depending on how aggressive the company is in its 11 remaining new gTLD contention set auctions.

CEO Antony Van Couvering said that M+M is also eyeing acquisition opportunities as the new gTLD industry enters an early consolidation phase.

He said that M+M’s early priorities include a focus on selling premium domains that have higher than usual annual renewal fees.

At the same time as announcing its results, the company said Krueger, who founded M+M with Van Couvering in 2009 in anticipation of the new gTLD program, has quit.

While he’s technically resigned, he left no doubt in his unusually frank resignation letter that he’s actually been forced out by the M+M board of directors.

He wrote that the decision was “initiated by the board” and that his “decision” to leave “was unexpected – for me at least”.

He added that he was “OK with it, indeed supportive of it” and that he has no intention to sell off his substantial stake in the company.

Krueger will now focus on Mozart, a web site building software maker that he’s been leading for the last couple of years. M+M has a deal to offer Mozart to its registrants.

He’s been replaced, albeit in a non-executive capacity, by Keith Teare, an existing director.

Teare is a tech veteran perhaps best known in the domain industry for launching and running RealNames, which attempted to replicate AOL Keywords for the Internet Explorer browser at the turn of the century.