Amazon has won the new gTLD .coupon, after Minds + Machines withdrew its application this week.
I understand that the two-way contention set was settled privately via a third party intermediary, possibly via some kind of auction, with M+M ultimately being paid off to withdraw its bid.
.coupon was the only ICANN-managed “auction of last resort” scheduled for July, following the $600,000 sale of .信息 last week.
The next batch of ICANN auctions is now not due to happen until August, unless of course ICANN rejigs its schedule in light of the .coupon settlement.
It’s not clear why Amazon has suddenly decided it prefers the idea of a private commercial settlement after all, but it appears to be good news for M+M, which will see the majority of the cash.
However, it could be related to the fact that .coupon, and dozens of other Amazon new gTLD applications, recently made the switch from being “closed generics” to more inclusive proposals.
Amazon had originally intended that itself and its subsidiaries would be the “only eligible registrants” for .coupon, but in March it changed the application, among many others.
Now, Amazon talks in vague terms about .coupon names being available to “eligible trusted third parties”, a term that doesn’t seem ready to define before the TLDs are actually delegated.
It seems to me, from Amazon’s revised applications, that .coupon and its other gTLDs will be locked down tight enough that they could wind up being effectively closed generics after all.
When Amazon publishes its first eligibility requirements document with ICANN, I expect members of the Governmental Advisory Committee will be watching closely.
New gTLD portfolio applicants settled at least 11 new gTLD contention sets last week, sharing the spoils of a private auction that looks to have totaled seven figures in sales.
Applicant Auction carried out auctions for 13 contested strings last week, which I believe lasted at least three days.
I’ve been able to determine that Donuts won six sets, Uniregistry won three and Minds + Machines won two. Radix seems to have lost at least five auctions, walking away with a great big pile of cash instead.
.hosting — Uniregistry won after Radix (which owns .host) withdrew.
.click — Uniregistry beat Radix.
.property — Uniregistry won after withdrawals from M+M and Donuts.
.yoga — M+M won, beating Donuts and Uniregistry.
.garden — M+M beat Donuts and Uniregistry again.
.娱乐 — Donuts won this string (Chinese for “.entertainment”) after Morden Media withdrew.
.deals — Donuts beat M+M and Radix.
.city — Donuts beat TLD Registry and Radix.
.forsale — Donuts beat DERForsale.
.world — Donuts beat Radix.
.band — Donuts beat What Box?
Minds + Machines disclosed this morning that the four auctions in which it was involved cost it $5.97 million.
It’s not possible to work out how much .garden and .yoga cost the company; the $5.97 million figure is net of the money it won by losing .property and .deals, ICANN refunds and auctioneer commissions.
However, it seems reasonable to assume that the average price of a gTLD, even not particularly attractive ones (.garden? Really?), has sharply risen from the $1.33 million I calculated from the first 14 auctions.
In January, M+M raised roughly $33.6 million for auctions with a private share placement. The company is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market.
The company said it now has an interest in 28 uncontested applications.
Also today, the Canadian Real Estate Association withdrew its Community application for .mls, but this is not believed to be related to the auctions. It has a non-Community application for the same string remaining.
Famous Four Media has won the .party new gTLD contention set after coming to a private agreement with the only other applicant for the string, Oriental Trading Company.
Financial details of the arrangement were not disclosed.
Oriental Trading is a supplier of party goods that intended to run the gTLD as closed, single-registrant namespace.
But Famous Four expects the open .party registry to be used for parties in the social gathering and political senses of the word.
It now has 13 uncontested applications and 44 more outstanding.
In related news, Minds + Machines today announced that it intends to take at least three of its applications — .garden, .property, and .yoga — at a private auction April 22 managed by Applicant Auction.
Two more new gTLDs — .wedding and .green — have been auctioned off, with proceeds amounting to millions of dollars.
Top Level Domain Holdings said in a press release that it won .wedding and lost .green, which cost it a net $2.23 million.
That’s the amount it paid for .wedding, minus its share of the .green winning bid and its ICANN refund for withdrawing its .green application.
I don’t think we can infer the exact sale price of .wedding from that, other than to say that it was definitely over $2.2 million.
TLDH did not say who won the .green auction. The only other remaining applicants, after Dot Green’s withdrawal last year, were Rightside and Afilias. Neither has withdrawn their applications yet.
In the .wedding auction, conducted by Applicant Auction, it beat rival portfolio applicants Donuts and What Box?
Top Level Domain Holdings has raised £21 million with an institutional investor share placement to help it win some new gTLD contention set auctions.
Its total war chest following the $33.6 million-ish placement will be about $63 million, albeit with $15 million of that earmarked for a single, as-yet-unspecified auction.
The company is currently in 43 contention sets, most of which it apparently wants to resolve via private auction. TLDH said in a statement:
The Company believes private auctions provide a significant opportunity for the Company both to increase the number of high-value gTLDs within its portfolio and to generate cash from those gTLDs which it chooses to relinquish. Under the private auction process, the winning bid is divided equally and paid to the losing applicants net of the auctioneer’s fees.
As part of TLDH’s transition from a revenue-free penny stock to a trading company, it’s going to change its name to Minds + Machines Limited, via a reverse takeover of its subsidiary of the same name.
The company said the move will help with “stakeholder communications and branding”.
Finally, TLDH said that founding director Guy Elliott is to leave its board of directors and be replaced by new non-executive director Elliot Noss. Noss is of course CEO of rival registry/registrar Tucows.