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VeriSign boss leaves domain industry

Kevin Murphy, August 1, 2011, Domain Registries

Former VeriSign chief executive Mark McLaughlin, who resigned last week, is leaving the domain name industry entirely, signing up as the new CEO of Palo Alto Networks, a firewall vendor.

The privately held company is being tipped for an imminent IPO, which could mean a big stock payday for McLaughlin if executed successfully.

The Wall Street Journal quotes McLaughlin today as saying “the upside is on the equity side”.

Coming ahead of the launch ICANN’s top-level domains program, you could have been forgiven for thinking that McLaughlin may have been headhunted by a new gTLD player.

That would have been a heck of an endorsement of the commercial opportunity of new gTLDs, for the head of .com and .net to throw in with the newcomers.

But clearly McLaughlin has realized there’s more money in firewalls.

Smart man.

At VeriSign, founder Jim Bedzos has taken over as CEO while a permanent replacement for the 10-year VeriSign veteran is sought.

Last chance to tell ICANN how to plug new gTLDs

“How Do We Raise Global Awareness of New gTLDs?”

ICANN asked that question a month ago and tomorrow is your last chance to respond to the public comment period it set up to gather suggestions.

So far, the number of responses is in the single figures.

I quite like Danny Younger’s suggestion: “It might be wise for a communications plan to include a warning to the general public about misleading ‘pre-registration’ schemes.”

A press release containing such a warning would almost certainly gather headlines – hacks love a bit of conflict – but it could also risk making the new gTLD process look a bit slapdash.

Easily the most laughable suggestion filed with ICANN so far comes from 4U Systems:

I would like to offer the use of .4U.com in your campaign. For example, New-gTLDs.4U.com, Domains.4U.com,Internet-Innovations.4U.com, new-domains.4U.com, Internet-expansions.4U.com, ICANN-applications.4U.com, TLD-launch.4U.com, ICANN-facts.4U.com, podcasts.4U.com, social-media.4U.com…the possibilities are limitless… the avenues to the information, countless. Therefore, we would like to talk further about how we may assist in the gTLD campaign with 4U.

Has any reader ever encountered a more fundamentally badly judged or desperation-smacking piece of business development outreach?

Ambitious .app project seeks funding

A community initiative to apply to ICANN for the .app top-level domain is looking for expert assistance and, more importantly, financial backers.

The .app Project sprung up in late June, after ICANN approved the new gTLD program. It hopes to raise a total of $535,000 to support the application, via memberships and sponsorship.

It appears to have been launched and is being coordinated by Matthew Baxter-Reynolds, director of a British mobile software consultancy called AMX Software.

The project’s site, at dotappapp.com, says:

Our aim is to keep the .app gTLD open and accessible such that it becomes an entity that properly support the app software development community, particularly in areas of intellectual property protection.

To raise money for the $185,000 ICANN fee, it’s selling memberships for between $25 and $100, which include a number of “free” .app domains if the application is approved.

It hopes to later raise an additional $350,000 for the technical infrastructure through sponsorship and investment.

I say the project is “ambitious” because I fully expect .app to be a contested TLD with multiple serious bidders that may well wind up duking it out at auction.

The iPhone platform alone already has over 400,000 third-party apps in the Apple App Store, so .app is a string that could potentially be a modest commercial success.

Another new gTLD consultancy launches

Kevin Murphy, July 12, 2011, Domain Services

ITEMS International, a Paris-based consulting firm, has launched a practice to specialize in helping new top-level domain applicants with their ICANN proposals.

The firm says it has more than 20 consultants on gTLD Team, based around Europe and North Africa, including one former ICANN board member and a few other ICANN regulars.

ITEMS says it has previously worked with the .fr registry, AFNIC, and has been contracted to support applications by the Burgundy Region Council and other undisclosed company.

It appears that the company plans to largely focus on geographic and dot-brand applications.