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Noss hints at winning .online auction bid

Kevin Murphy, November 13, 2014, Domain Registries

A triumvirate of domain name companies led by Radix paid well over $7 million for the .online new gTLD, judging by comments made by Tucows CEO in an analysts call yesterday.

As the company reported its third-quarter financial numbers, Noss said of .online, which was recently auctioned:

While we are bound by confidentiality with respect to the value of the transaction, we can point to amounts paid in other gTLDs’ auctions in the public domain — like $6.8 million for .tech, $5.6 million for .realty, or the $4.6 million that Amazon paid for .buy — and let you decide what you think .online should be valued, relative to those more narrowly targeted extensions.

Radix won the private auction with financial backing from Tucows and NameCheap.

The three companies intend to set up a new joint venture to manage the .online registry, as we reported yesterday, with each company contributing between $4 million and $5 million.

Assuming at least one company is contributing $4 million and at least one is contributing $5 million, that works out to a total of $13 million to $14 million, earmarked for the auction and seed funding for the new venture.

Based on that knowledge, an assumption that the new company will want a couple of million to launch, and Noss’s comments yesterday, I’d peg the .online sale price in the $10-12 million range.

Radix business head Sandeep Ramchamdani told us yesterday that the company plans to market .online with some “hi-decibel advertising” and participation in events such as Disrupt and South by Southwest.

Another 11 new gTLDs won at auction

Kevin Murphy, November 12, 2014, Domain Registries

It’s been a busy week for new gTLD application withdrawals, with no fewer than 11 contention sets getting settled over the last few days.

First, as predicted, Radix won .online, after I-Registry withdrew the last remaining competing application, but only with a little help from its friends.

Radix is to form a new joint venture with Tucows and NameCheap to run .online. Each company threw in $4 million to $5 million to cover the cost of the auction and seed funding for the yet-to-be-formed new registry entity.

Another auction saw .site also won by Radix, as a standalone applicant, after withdrawals from Interlink, M+M, Google and Donuts.

.dog went to Donuts after withdrawals from Minds + Machines and Google. Donuts also won .live, after an earlier withdrawal from Microsoft and one this week from Google.

The hotly contested .cloud went to Aruba after withdrawals from M+M, Symantec, Amazon, Google, CloudNames and Donuts.

.boats was won by DERboats after Donuts withdrew.

.book has gone to Amazon, after withdrawals from R.R. Bowker, Famous Four Media, Donuts, DotBook, M+M, Global Domain Registry, Google and NU DOT CO.

Amazon also won .hot, after Donuts and dotHot (affiliated with .jobs) withdrew.

Dish DBS, a Spanish-language US TV company, will operate .latino as a closed dot-brand for its Dish Latino service, after M+M withdrew its competing application.

Japanese domain registrar Interlink won .earth, beating Google.

Motion Picture Domain Registry beat Donuts and Google to .film, meaning the gTLD will “will only be available to film producers and major film studios” under the applicant’s plan to require a Motion Picture Association of America registration number in order to register a name.

New gTLD implicated in Macaulay Culkin “death”, but journalists get it all wrong

Kevin Murphy, November 10, 2014, Domain Registries

A cybersquatted domain in a new gTLD was deployed to perpetrate a hoax about the death Macaulay Culkin at the weekend, but reports insisted on adding a “.com” to the name.

A prankster set up a fake news report at msnbc.website, which was registered via Domains By Proxy on November 5, reporting the former child actor had been found dead at 34 in his apartment.

MSNBC is of course an American TV news network which usually operates at msnbc.com.

While unconvincing, the hoax nevertheless reportedly managed to string along a fair few Twitter users before the news media got around to debunking it. Culkin is, at time of publication, alive.

What’s interesting, and no doubt frustrating if you’re in the new gTLD industry, is the number of media outlets — both mainstream and tech-oriented — that got the domain name wrong.

According to Google News, at least 10 publications, including the International Business Times and The Inquisitr, have reported the domain in question was “msnbc.website.com”.

Even publications that correctly linked to msnbc.website still reported the incorrect .com domain in the anchor text, perhaps displaying the level of ignorance about new gTLDs out there today.

New gTLDs steal $5 million from Web.com’s top line

Kevin Murphy, November 6, 2014, Domain Registrars

Top registrar Web.com is seeing disappointing revenue from its domain business due to new gTLDs.

The “increased availability” of names has taken a chunk out of the company’s premium domain sales, CEO David Brown told analysts on the company’s third-quarter earnings call yesterday.

While we continue to expect the recently expanded top-level domain environment to increase our ability to sell domains over the medium to long term, the increased availability of names has had a near-term negative impact on domain-related revenue. This is primarily associated with non-core domain-related revenue such as sales of premium domain names and bulk domain sales.

As a result, the company has reduced its full-year 2014 revenue guidance from between $576 million and $579 million to between $566.7 million and $568.7 million

The company blamed about half of the reduction — about $5 million — on softness in its domain name business.

Brown explained that the new gTLD environment has seen domain investors exercise much more caution when it comes to buying premium names and buying names in bulk:

We’ve seen that market get soft…. The reason the softness is occurring is that this marketplace is looking at all of these new gTLDs coming into place, there are more options available for people and they’re kind of stepping back away, at least temporarily, to see how things settle out.

He said the company expects the market to come back after the uncertainty has passed.

Web.com yesterday reported third-quarter net income of $33.9 million, up from $29.3 million a year ago, on revenue that was up to $137.4 million from $125.2 million in 2013.

The company, which owns brands including Register.com and Network Solutions, announced a $100 million share repurchase at the same time, to prop up the inevitable hit its stock was to take.

Its shares are trading down 25% at time of publication.

Battles for .chat, .style, .tennis, bingo and .sas over

Kevin Murphy, November 6, 2014, Domain Registries

Seven new gTLD contention sets have been formally resolved with application withdrawals this morning, five of which we haven’t previously reported on.

Most appear to have been settled by private auctions, with Donuts often the victor.

The standout, however, is .sas, an unusual case of a contention set of two would-be dot-brand registries being resolved.

The business software maker SAS Institute, which applied as Research IP, has prevailed over the Scandinavian airline holding company SAS AB for the .sas gTLD.

Both applicants had applied for closed, single-registrant namespaces.

On the regular, open gTLD front, .chat has gone to Donuts after withdrawals from Top Level Spectrum, Radix and Famous Four Media.

.style has also gone to Donuts, after Uniregistry, Top Level Design, Evolving Style Registry and Minds + Machines withdrew their applications.

.tennis is another Donuts win. Applications from Famous Four, Washington Team Tennis and Tennis Australia have been withdrawn, after a failed Community bid from Tennis Australia.

Donuts, finally, beat Famous Four to .bingo.

Afilias and Top Level Spectrum have officially withdrawn their .wine applications. As we reported earlier this week, this leaves Donuts as the sole remaining applicant.

Top Level Spectrum’s bid for .sucks has also been withdrawn, confirming DI’s report from earlier this week that the controversial gTLD has been won by Vox Populi Registry.

But Donuts failed to win .online, withdrawing its application today. Only two applicants — Radix and I-Registry — remain in this once six-way contention set.

We’ll know the winner (my money’s on Radix) in a matter of days, I expect.