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Neustar to split into two

Neustar is to split into two companies and its domain name business is set for a rebranding.

The company said yesterday that it is breaking into an Order Management & Numbering Services company which will be called Neustar, and an Information Services company, which contains the domain business and will get a new name.

“The proposed spin-off will enable Neustar shareholders to own and value each business separately, allowing each company to attract the investor base most appropriate for its distinct investment profile,” said Neustar chair James Cullen.

That’s another way of saying the company is dumping all of its serious risk into the company that will remain Neustar.

Neustar currently holds the Local Number Portability Administration contract with the US government, under which it manages the central database of phone numbers.

It’s worth $496 million a year, but the US Federal Communications Commission has decided to switch to Ericsson unit Telcordia Technologies, which offered a better deal.

While Neustar is fighting the decision in court, its prospects don’t look great.

Separating the domain business from the numbering contract should insulate it from that risk.

The yet-to-be-named spin-off containing the domain business is worth $470 million a year, but most of that is unrelated to domain names. It will also offer Neustar’s marketing and security services.

It will be headed by current Neustar CEO Lisa Hook. CFO Paul Lalljie will bravely take the helm of the (probably) sinking Neustar ship.

The split is expected to take a year to implement.

Burr to replace Tonkin on ICANN board

Kevin Murphy, April 19, 2016, Domain Policy

ICANN lifer Becky Burr is to replace Bruce Tonkin on the ICANN board of directors when his term expires in November.

She’ll take the seat reserved for the Contracted Parties House of the Generic Names Supporting Organization, following a vote by registries and registrars a few weeks ago.

Tonkin, CTO of Aussie registrar Melbourne IT, has held the seat for the last nine years. He’s limited to three consecutive three-year terms under ICANN bylaws.

Burr, a lawyer by trade, is currently chief privacy officer at TLD registry Neustar, a position she has held since 2012.

Before that, she was a partner at the law firm Wilmer Hale.

But way back in 1998, in a senior role at the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration, she was one of the key people responsible for ICANN’s creation under the Clinton administration.

Kinderis calls on industry to cut the bullshit

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2016, Domain Policy

Domain Name Association chair Adrian Kinderis has called for the industry to “grow up”.

The former ARI CEO, now Neustar veep, said Monday it’s time for the industry to kick out the handful of bad actors that ruin its reputation, and to quit the “bullshit bickering” about which TLDs are best.

“For far too long this industry has turned a blind eye to the less than scrupulous activities,” he said, “and these activities have plagued this industry. Bad actors have tarnished the perception of this industry.”

“This may have been acceptable when it was a few insiders first grasping at a fledgling product in the early nineties but… we are now front and center of the internet,” he said.

“These practices of a few bad actors have led to the frustration of consumers. We have not served the best interests of our consumers at all times,” he said. “This has to change.”

He was speaking to an audience of registries, registrars and investors at the opening session of the NamesCon conference in Las Vegas on Monday.

It was a fairly standard DNA sales pitch, the kind Kinderis has given before, but few could deny the truth of his remarks.

He called upon the industry to more effectively self-regulate, working with ICANN, to keep the boogeymen of government legislators and law enforcement agencies at bay.

“It’s time to grow up and show that we can regulates ourselves and build a strong sustainable industry with integrity,” he said.

He also called for unity among industry participants, pointing out that the threats to their businesses are external to the domain industry.

“The domain name war must be over,” he said. “The infighting and bullshit bickering has to stop. The .coms, the not-.coms, the IDNs, the g’s versus the cc’s… this must stop.”

“As an industry we have been very lucky. We’ve stumbled through 20 years without a collective strategy nor cohesion,” he said. “Outside forces have not had a massive impact on us, yet. QR codes have tried. Apps are trying.”

He pointed to the recent positive “bump” that many domain companies have experienced as a result of investment from China, but attributed to “dumb luck” rather than the result of any smart marketing or outreach.

The 10-minute speech can be viewed below or on the NamePros YouTube channel.

Neustar shoots the corpse of .kids.us

Kevin Murphy, September 10, 2015, Domain Registries

The ill-conceived, barely used .kids.us domain is to stay dead, Neustar confirmed last night.

The .us registry operator said that its Stakeholder Council met August 17 and:

carefully considered the report on the kids.us domain and unanimously recommended that the requirement be suspended for the life of the .us contract.

Neustar had been forced into making a call about reintroducing .kids.us by its current .us contract, which it signed in March 2014.

One October 2014 expert report and May 2015 comment period later, and the decision has been made to keep the idea suspended.

.kids.us was introduced via US legislation as a way to make politicians look like they were doing something create a friendly space for the under 13s.

But the zone wound up with reg numbers that make new gTLDs look popular, so the decision was made in 2012 to kill it off.

Neustar’s .us contract lasts another two to four years, and that’s how long the suspension will last, at least.

Direct .au regs closer to reality

Kevin Murphy, August 20, 2015, Domain Registries

Australians could soon get the ability to register domain names directly under .au for the first time.

Following in the footsteps of the UK and New Zealand, a panel of .au policy body auDA has recommended that the second level should be opened up for registrations, pending further consultation.

In a consultation paper (pdf), the panel wrote:

direct registrations would create names which are shorter, more appealing and more memorable. They would make the domain name system simpler and easier to use. Moreover, the proposed change would open a wide range of new choices for registrants, and would provide a better option, especially for some groups; in particular, the Panel thinks that the biggest benefit will be for individuals, who would be able to obtain an Australian domain name in a simple and straightforward way.

Trademark owners need to pay attention, because the panel has recommended that the release does not include a sunrise period, due to .au’s “no hierarchy of rights” principle.

But the panel is recommending that existing .au registrants should get first dibs on matching second-level names.

Unlike the UK, where .co.uk registrants had preference over registrants in other SLDs, the auDA panel says .com.au owners would not be treated any differently to, for example, .org.au owners.

The panel has also raised the idea of implementing ICANN’s Uniform Rapid Suspension policy.

Registry providers might want to take note that the panel says that .au back-end AusRegistry, now part of Neustar, will not automatically get the contract to run the direct .au registry; an RFP may be in auDA’s future.

The recommendations are now open for comment until September 30.