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.hiv to auction with “no profiting” catch

Kevin Murphy, April 24, 2015, Domain Registries

Don’t all rush to your checkbooks at once.

The live TLD .hiv is going to be among the next batch of new gTLDs auctioned off by Innovative Auctions, but the contract comes with a no-profit clause.

Innovative and dotHIV Registry announced the sale yesterday.

.hiv is an unsuccessful gTLD so far. It had just over 2,000 registered names at the end of 2014, according to registry reports, but never more than 423 the names have been present in the DNS.

Registry CEO Carolin Silbernagl said:

In the eight months since our launch we have gained a lot of insight about what it needs to reach this. The reason why we are offering .hiv for sale is because we see how successful it can be. However, we realized that dotHIV is not the right vehicle for the next phase – the TLD needs a bigger and more international home to truly spread its wings.

It went to general availability last August, with an innovative but risky business model based around charitable micro-donations to HIV/AIDS causes.

Of the $200 annual retail fee, dotHIV put $120 into a pool reserved for charities. Every visit to a .hiv that was participating in a “Click Counter” service would cause a small amount of that money to actually be donated.

Judging by visits to a few .hiv domains this morning, just €862 — less than $1,000 — has been donated so far, based on fewer than 133,000 clicks.

This donation model is “just one of many possible uses” and not a contractual requirement, according to Silbernagl.

There is, however, a binding Public Interest Commitment that obliges the registry to give “all excess profits” to HIV causes. The PIC reads:

Registry Operator commits to implementing and performing the following protections for the TLD: Registry Operator, as a social enterprise, is driven by its sole mission to support the global HIV response. Therefore, Registry Operator will reinvest all excess profits in projects serving this mission.

Not it’s not exactly an attractive investment opportunity, in terms of pure cash ROI.

But Innovative said there’s another reason to buy: “Approaching .hiv as a corporate philanthropic engagement could have positive effects on public image and employee satisfaction for the buyer.”

.hiv is due to be part of the June 3/4 live gTLD auction, which also includes .promo.

New gTLD zones top five million names

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2015, Domain Registries

There are now more than five million new gTLD domain names live in the DNS.

That’s according to zone files collated by ICANN, which I’m told show 5,002,252 names across the 597 new gTLD registries providing data.

That works out to a mean of 8,378 domains per TLD, a median of 1,254.

The largest zone file is .xyz, with 877,450 names. There’s at least 100 new gTLDs with only one domain in their zones.

Due to the way ICANN’s Centralized Zone Data Service works (or doesn’t work) with access rights expiring on a pretty much daily basis, it’s virtually impossible for a third party such as DI to count up zone file numbers across every new gTLD with 100% daily accuracy.

Today, DI PRO reports a count of 4,999,024 names.

The total number of zone file domains in this post was provided by ICANN, which does not have the same CZDS restrictions as the rest of us.

As .stream is won, ICANN’s auction list empties

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2015, Domain Registries

.stream has become the latest new gTLD contention set to be settled prior to its ICANN auction, leaving ICANN’s auction schedule looking barren.

Famous Four Media beat Hughes Satellite Systems to the string, which was due to auction May 27.

The four strings scheduled for bidding April 29 — .living, .fun, .map and .search — were also recently settled.

All that remains on ICANN’s schedule is the controversial .game/.games contention set, which will employ a unique process designed for contention sets created by inconsistent singular/plural string confusion rulings.

The five .game applicants and one .games applicant (Donuts) are still due to hit the block May 20.

A couple dozen other gTLDs are still pending ICANN auction but do not have set dates due to various challenges and disputes.

.london clear winner as M+M releases raw reg data

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2015, Domain Registries

.london accounts for over 37% of sales in Minds + Machines’ portfolio of live gTLDs, according to company data released this morning.

M+M published registration figures for its 19 generally available TLDs as part of a trading update ahead of its full-year financials.

The data shows that four of its top five strings are geographic in nature.

TLDDomains% of Portfolio
LONDON62,14337.58
BAYERN29,35117.75
WORK20,60512.46
KIWI11,4066.90
NRW7,7014.66
BEER6,9574.21
COUNTRY5,3223.22
YOGA3,2721.98
GOP2,9401.78
CASA2,9191.77
FASHION2,2051.33
SURF2,0801.26
WEDDING1,7831.08
HORSE1,7551.06
COOKING1,4910.90
VODKA1,4150.86
FISHING1,2970.78
GARDEN4000.24
RODEO3220.19
Total165,364

The TLDs have launch dates ranging from April 2014 to April 2015.

It should be noted that .kiwi and .gop are run by M+M clients, with M+M providing the back-end only.

There’s a delta of up to 5% between these reg numbers and the numbers of domains appearing in the zone files of some of these gTLDs.

For example, we count 59,162 domains in .london’s zone file and 27,955 in .bayern today, suggesting that on any given day a couple thousand domains are not configured in the DNS.

In other TLDs, such as .kiwi and .work, the zone file numbers and the reg numbers have almost no difference at all.

The company also disclosed that in its registrar business “Premium Names”, which command a higher fee, account for 3% of its registrations and 25% of revenue.

M+M recently headhunted Trent Tucker from Rightside to manage premium name sales.

Dirty tricks claimed in .music fight

Kevin Murphy, April 22, 2015, Domain Registries

A .music hopeful has tried to add over 300 pages of documents to its new gTLD application, apparently in an effort to leapfrog competitors, and its rival community applicant is far from happy.

DotMusic Limited submitted the change request (pdf) in order to add some Public Interest Commitments to its .music bid.

Rival .Music LLC now claims that it is “outrageous and unfair for ICANN to allow this applicant to abuse the PIC process in this way” and has filed a Request for Reconsideration.

Of the eight .music bidders, these two companies are the only formal “community” applicants.

Under the rules of the new gTLD program, community applicants can avoid having to fight an auction if they win a strict Community Priority Evaluation.

To avoid confusion: DotMusic Limited is the applicant led by Constantine Roussos; .Music LLC (aka Far Further) is led by John Styll.

Far Further fought a CPE last year but lost in spectacular fashion, scoring just 3 out of the 16 available points, a long way shy of the 14 points required for a pass.

The Roussos applicant has now submitted eight new proposed Public Interest Commitments — things it promises to do to protect registrants and rights holders — as an addendum to its application.

That’s pretty standard stuff.

What’s unusual are the 308 pages of additional “clarifications” that seek to explain how the proposed PICs relate to its original application.

They’re not changes to the application, technically speaking, but they are a way to get hundreds of extra pages of content into the public record ahead of DotMusic’s own CPE.

According to Styll, this latest gambit is nothing more than an attempt to score more CPE points. He told ICANN:

the 308 additional pages of “clarifications” contain wording that clearly utilizes learnings from previous CPE results (including our own), in violation of ICANN policy

Complicating matters, it turns out that Far Further tried to make some substantive changes to its application back in May 2014, but had the request declined by ICANN “in order to be fair to other applicants”.

That was prior to ICANN’s publication of guidelines governing change request, Styll says.

Because of this alleged discrepancy between how the two competing change requests were handled, Far Further wants a second crack at the CPE for its own application.

Its RfR (pdf) asks ICANN to reverse its May 2014 decision, allow its change request, throw out the original results of its CPE and refer the CPE to a new Economist Intelligence Unit panel for a full reevaluation.

Failing that, it wants ICANN to throw out the 308 pages of “clarifications” submitted by DotMusic.

Both applicants have the written support of dozens of music industry groups.

There’s some crossover, but Far Further’s backers appear to me to be a little more “establishment” than DotMusic’s, including the likes of the Recording Industry Association of America.

The other, non-community applicants are Amazon, Google, Donuts, Radix, Famous Four Media and Entertainment Names.

With Google and Amazon in the mix, if it goes to auction, .music could easily be an eight-figure auction along the lines of .app, which sold to Google for $25 million.

In my view, winning a CPE is the only way DotMusic has a chance of getting its hands on .music, short of combining with another applicant.