Minds + Machines is to apply to ICANN for .bangaluru, a top-level domain for the Indian city of Bengaluru.
Parent Top Level Domain Holdings announced today that M+M will enter into a joint venture with local partner India TL Domain for the application.
Confusingly, the proposed gTLD appears to be a misspelling – or at least a very uncommon spelling – of the name of the city in question.
The city is still often known by its old colonial name, Bangalore. But in 2006 it officially renamed itself Bengaluru, its original Kannada name.
But a TLDH spokesperson has confirmed that the company is applying for .bangaluru, with an A, which does not appear to be an official name for the city in any language.
The application has the support of the Bengaluru’s mayor’s office, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, which is a prerequisite for city gTLD applications.
Is the city going to get a gTLD with a confusing Latin spelling? It certainly appears that way.
Bengaluru is India’s third most-populous city, with six million citizens. It’s known as India’s tech hub.
M+M and ITLD have also previously been linked to a joint-venture bid for .mumbai, though a question mark was raised over its governmental support last August.
Minds + Machines parent Top Level Domain Holdings has registered for another 20 new gTLD application slots with ICANN, bringing its total to date to 40.
The TLD Application System slots are for filing gTLD applications for itself and on behalf of M+M clients, the company said this morning.
A week ago, ICANN said that 100 registrations had been made with TAS.
TLDH is known to be involved in applications for .gay and .eco, among others. It registered its first 20 application slots during the first week of the application window, mid-January.
Top Level Domain Holdings has raised £9 million ($14.2 million) with a share sale, boosting its ability to apply for new generic top-level domains.
TLDH, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market in London, owns registry provider Minds + Machines and has interests in a number of new gTLD joint ventures.
The shares were sold to “institutional and other investors” for 8.25p each, the company said.
TLDH now has a cash pile of about $25 million, CEO Antony Van Couvering said in a press release. Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush added:
TLDH management believes that the increased capital will allow it to increase significantly the number of applications it is able to make, allowing it to develop a wider, more diversified portfolio of names in multiple languages and scripts
The current cash balance would allow it to apply for 135 gTLDs, if it blew the whole lot on application fees.
I expect its actual number of applications to be more like 30, which would leave TLDH with about $20 million in reserve for fighting contested applications and start-up costs.
It could also try to raise some more money from the markets when some of its gTLD applications start being approved, of course.
Being the only public company entirely devoted to new gTLDs may leave TLDH in an interesting tactical position a few months from now — competing applicants are going to have a relatively good insight into the strength of its hand if any of its applications go to auction.
Minds + Machines has won governmental approval for its .bayern new gTLD application, according to the company.
The Bavarian state government has said it will back a bid for .bayern from Bayern Connect, which is majority-owned by M+M parent Top Level Domain Holdings, TLDH said today.
According to its press release, M+M will provide the back-end registry services, which strongly suggests that it does not plan to outsource to Neustar on this occasion.
Bayern Connect is not the only company to have announced a .bayern application, however.
Rival applicant PunktBayern, which is backed by United Domains and InterNetX among others, has been public about its plans for a couple of years too. Last year, it selected Afilias to provide its registry back-end.
If the Bavarian government is offering its exclusive support to Bayern Connect, as TLDH now says, it puts a serious question mark over the viability of the PunktBayern bid.
Under ICANN’s rules, any gTLD purporting to represent a state must secure the support or non-objection of the relevant government. Without that support, applications will be rejected.
PunktBayern does have a registered trademark on “.bayern”, however, so the tussle may not be quite over yet.
Bayern is the German name for Bavaria. The state has a population of about 12.5 million and quite a strong sense of its own identity.
It’s often referred to as the land of “laptops and lederhosen” due to a long-running government policy of friendliness to the tech industry.
ICANN is to bring in ethics experts to advise it on its conflicts of interest policy, addressing the ongoing controversy over its former chairman’s move to the domain industry.
The organization plans to “engage an external firm with expertise in advising on ethical issues”, according to the minutes of a September 15 meeting of its Board Governance Committee.
The consultants will be tasked with helping to “develop an ICANN Ethics Regime or set of Guidelines for the Board, the staff and the community.”
ICANN has been faced recently with calls to impose post-employment restrictions on board members and staff, in order to prevent a “revolving door” between it and the industry it essentially regulates.
This follows former chairman Peter Dengate Thrush’s move to new gTLD applicant Minds + Machines just a few weeks after voting to approve the new gTLD program.
Senator Ron Wyden and the Association of National Advertisers are among those making the call, and the US Department of Commerce, which oversees ICANN, appears to have heard it.
But as I reported earlier in the week, it may actually be illegal for ICANN, as a California corporation, to contractually ban employees from joining domain name companies after they quit.
However, the BGC has other ideas about how to strengthen ethics without imposing these potentially problematic employment restrictions.
It’s now talking about a ethics policy with “disclosure and abstention requirements” for directors “surrounding future interests or potential future interests”.
While the policy has yet to be written, one can imagine a scenario in which an ICANN director would be prevented from voting on a policy that would be likely to enrich them in a future job.
Cherine Chalaby, Bill Graham and Ray Plzak are the BGC members who will be leading the board discussions, which are expected to continue in Dakar later this month.
The ethics issue was first raised publicly by ICANN president Rod Beckstrom during his opening address at the Singapore meeting in June — before the new gTLD vote and before Dengate Thrush’s departure.