Directi appears to be the last man standing in the three-way tie-up for .online, following the latest new gTLD withdrawals.
Namecheap has dropped its .online application, closely following Tucows, which dropped its bid a couple of weeks ago.
The three companies announced a deal in March to see them cooperate to win the contested TLD, but at the time it wasn’t clear which applicants would pull out.
Directi’s bid (filed by DotOnline Inc under the Radix brand) remains. It has already passed Initial Evaluation, which may be part of the reason its application was chosen as the “winner”.
The gTLD is still contested, however. Directi is competing with Donuts, I-Registry and Dot Online LLC.
Separately today, a curious two-way dot-brand battle seems to have had its final twist, with Guardian Life Insurance’s withdrawal of its application for .guardianlife.
The insurance company and newspaper publisher Guardian News and Media had both applied for gTLDs containing the string “guardian”. There were originally five, but only two remain.
It now looks like Guardian News will get .theguardian, having previously conceded .guardian to its brand rival and dropping its bid for .guardianmedia.
It appears that there’s been more than a bit of strategic applying, and maybe some deal-making, here.
Neither remaining application is contested, and neither have objections. It’s likely that .guardian is captured by the Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice against “closed generics”, however.
Three applicants for the .online gTLD appear to have settled their differences in what I believe is the first public example of new gTLD contention set consolidation.
Tucows, Directi and Namecheap said today that that they plan to “work together to manage the .online registry.” From the press release:
applicants for the same TLDs have begun to compete, negotiate, and, in some cases, join forces to ultimately produce one winning bid.
The first such alliance was revealed today, when domain industry veterans Directi, Tucows and Namecheap announced that they would work together to manage the .online registry.
The companies are of course three of the most successful domain name registrars out there.
The press release does not specify how the combination will be carried out. Under ICANN rules, two of the applicants would have to drop their applications. It’s not possible to resubmit as a joint venture.
It also does not acknowledge that there are three other applicants for .online — Donuts and smaller portfolio applicants Dot Online LLC and I-REGISTRY Ltd — which are not party to the agreement.
NameCheap has decided to bring back the promotion that saw roughly 20,000 domain names transferred to it from Go Daddy, in protest of the company’s stance on US legislation, a year ago.
Its “second annual Move Your Domain Day” will be on January 22, with inbound transfers costing $3.99 (a buck cheaper than last year) on domains in the five biggest gTLDs.
It will donate $0.50 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for every transfer, escalating to $1 and $1.50 if it gets more than 10,000 and 20,000 domains respectively.
The original promo was an opportunistic move to capitalize on Go Daddy’s support for the censor-happy Stop Online Piracy Act, which caused a great deal of controversy a year ago.
SOPA is now of course dead, and the senior Go Daddy executive who was most vocally in support of the bill, general counsel Christine Jones, is no longer with the company.
Go Daddy lost tens of thousands of domain name registrations totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost recurring revenue due to yesterday’s SOPA-related boycott.
NameCheap, the eNom reseller that spearheaded the campaign against Go Daddy, said on Twitter that it had raised over $25,000 for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, suggesting that it saw over 25,000 inbound transfers using its SOPASUCKS discount code.
Twitter noise also suggests that several other registrars, such as Name.com and Gandi, gained from the protest.
The boycott went ahead due to Go Daddy’s former support of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which many Americans believe will infringe civil liberties by erecting a great big DNS firewall around the country.
The company withdrew its support for the bill before Christmas, but many customers either chose to ignore its new stance or to point out that “not supporting” did not necessarily mean “opposing”.
Frankly, I think many people just wanted to lash out, and withdrawing business from a company with an established reputation for being a bit downmarket is a lot easier than, say, turning off SOPA-supporting ESPN or cutting up your SOPA-supporting Visa card.
Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s new CEO, issued this statement last night, clarifying the company’s position:
We have observed a spike in domain name transfers, which are running above normal rates and which we attribute to Go Daddy’s prior support for SOPA, which was reversed.
Go Daddy opposes SOPA because the legislation has not fulfilled its basic requirement to build a consensus among stake-holders in the technology and Internet communities. Our company regrets the loss of any of our customers, who remain our highest priority, and we hope to repair those relationships and win back their business over time.
The company has over 50 million domains under management. Even if 50,000 were transferred to other registrars, that’s still only 0.1% of Go Daddy’s installed base.
Name server records compiled by DailyChanges also heavily suggest that the company sold over 43,000 new domain registrations yesterday.
The fact that Adelman chose to eat humble pie rather than pointing this out was probably a wise PR decision.
Also, NameCheap deserves some kudos for running a very effective social media campaign.
I think it’s fair to say that Go Daddy is ending 2011 on a bum note.
A handful of competitors, notably Namecheap, are exploiting the recent outrage about the company’s support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (since recanted) to really stick the boot in.
NameCheap today called for December 29 to be marked as Move Your Domain Day and is currently sponsoring the hashtag #BoycottGoDaddy on Twitter.
It also said it will donate $1 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for every domain transferred to it that day using the coupon code SOPASUCKS.
Other registrars are joining in with somewhat less gusto.
Dotster, for example, is offering cheap transfers with the discount code NOFLIPFLOP, a reference to Go Daddy’s changed position on SOPA.
So what’s the net effect of all this on Go Daddy’s business? It’s difficult to tell with much accuracy at this point.
NameCheap claims to have seen 40,000 inbound transfers in the last week, most of them presumably coming from former Go Daddy customers.
That’s going to be a difficult claim to verify however, even when December’s official gTLD registry reports are published a few months from now.
Unlike most ICANN-accredited registrars, NameCheap does not register domains directly — it has fewer than 200 .com domains under management, according to the most recent registry report.
The company started off life as an eNom reseller and appears to have never gotten around to migrating its customers.
(I wonder how many people transferring their domains this week are aware that some of their fees are probably flowing into the coffers of Demand Media, another popular internet hate figure.)
Several media articles have sourced DomainTool’s DailyChanges service for numbers of transfers out of domaincontrol.com, Go Daddy’s default name server constellation.
Here’s a graph showing the transfers in and out of domaincontrol.com since the start of the month.
Transfers out briefly overtook transfers in this week, but by a negligible number.
The two big spikes you can see – both of which occur before the boycott began on December 22 – can be attributed to domainers (possibly a single domainer) moving thousands of domains from domaincontrol.com to internettraffic.com, a parking service, and back again.
Those movements had nothing to do with SOPA or the boycott, nor do they indicate that the domains were transferred away from Go Daddy. Name server changes != transfers.
Facts shouldn’t get in the way of a good story, however.
That’s probably why NameCheap seems to have got away with its insinuations about Go Daddy “blocking” transfers yesterday, which turned out to be highly questionable.
It transpires that transfers into NameCheap were failing not because of any nefarious activity by Go Daddy, but because NameCheap’s Whois queries were being automatically rate limited.
This was likely because NameCheap failed to white-list the IP addresses it uses for port 43 Whois look-ups either using ICANN’s RADAR tool or by notifying Go Daddy directly.
Go Daddy senior direct of product development Rich Merdinger suggested in a statement last night that NameCheap looked for the PR opportunity before picking up the phone:
Namecheap posted their accusations in a blog, but to the best our of knowledge, has yet to contact Go Daddy directly, which would be common practice for situations like this. Normally, the fellow registrar would make a request for us to remove the normal rate limiting block which is a standard practice used by Go Daddy, and many other registrars, to rate limit Whois queries to combat WhoIs abuse.
NameCheap has naturally disputed this interpretation of events, saying it had tried to get in touch with Go Daddy but received no response for 24 hours (Christmas Day, presumably).
Regardless of the he said/she said, the narrative in the media and on Twitter for the last couple of days has been pretty clear — Go Daddy: Bad, NameCheap: Good.
The SOPA story seems to have hit a nerve, and there are no shortage of pissed-off Go Daddy customers with horror stories to recount or just general criticisms of the company’s fairly brash image.
Warren Adelman picked a hell of a time to take over as CEO.