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Second last-resort gTLD auction raises $14.3m

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2014, Domain Registries

ICANN has raised $14.3 million auctioning off three new gTLDs — .buy, .tech and .vip.

It was the second batch of “last resort” auctions, managed by ICANN and Power Auctions, in which the winning bids are placed in a special ICANN fund.

Notably, while Google participated in all three auctions, it failed to win any, setting a reassuring precedent for any smaller applicants that are set to face the deep-pocketed giant in future auctions.

.tech was the biggest-seller, fetching $6,760,000 after nine rounds of bidding.

The winner was Dot Tech LLC, which beat Google, Minds + Machines, Donuts, NU DOT CO, and Uniregistry.

.buy went to Amazon for $4,588,888, beating Google, Donuts and Famous Four Media. The bidding lasted seven rounds.

Finally, .vip sold to Minds + Machines for $3,000,888 after Google, Donuts, I-Registry and VIP Registry dropped out.

The prices are in the same ball-park as we’ve inferred from previous, private auctions managed by Applicant Auction (a company affiliated with Power Auctions).

That’s notable because the first last resort auction, for .信息, fetched just $600,000 when it sold to Amazon back in June.

As far as we can tell, last-resort auctions do not necessarily keep prices low, even though the losing bidders in this week’s auctions will have walked away empty-handed.

In private auctions, losers leave holding a share of the winner’s bid.

This week, most of the $14.3 million raised will go into a special ICANN fund.

Akram Atallah, president of ICANN’s Global Domains Division said in a statement:

The proceeds from these Auctions will be separated and reserved until the Board determines a plan for the appropriate use of the funds through consultation with the community. We continue to encourage parties to reach agreements amongst themselves to resolve contention.

The ICANN community has been chatting about possible uses for auction funds for years.

Ideas such as subsidizing new gTLD applicants from poorer nations in future rounds and investing in internet infrastructure in the developing world have been floated.

DotGreen is back from the dead

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2014, Domain Registries

DotGreen Community, a popular but unsuccessful applicant for the .green gTLD, has been resurrected to manage the marketing for the successful applicant, Afilias.

It appears that Afilias, which won .green at auction against two other applicants in late February, is essentially outsourcing the marketing of .green to DotGreen.

DotGreen withdrew its bid last October, citing the high cost of the looming auction.

DotGreen’s plan for the TLD, had it won, was to distribute some of its profits to worthy environmental causes, and that plan seems to have been brought back from the dead too.

According to a press release:

DotGreen brings additional partnerships with EarthShare, a federation comprised of the world’s leading environmental and conservation charities; and The DotGreen Foundation, a California Non-profit, 501 (c)3 Public Charity. These organizations will work together to distribute a percentage of the proceeds collected from the sales of the .green domain names to programs that work towards the advancement of sustainability worldwide.

It appears to be a unique, first-of-its-kind relationship in the new gTLD space.

Afilias remains the contracted party and will continue to run the technical infrastructure of the registry, but the heavy-lifting of actually marketing the names falls on DotGreen.

Given that DotGreen spent quite a lot of time in the run-up to the new gTLD application process building relationships with environmental groups, this could be an incredibly shrewd move by Afilias.

Afilias has not yet revealed its sunrise or general availability launch dates for .green, which was delegated in June.

.xyz tops 500,000 names

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2014, Domain Registries

XYZ.com’s new gTLD .xyz has become the first in this round to accrue over half a million domains in its zone file.

This morning I count 500,050 domains in the zone, up 3,485 on yesterday.

The registry has added over 60,000 domains in the last 30 days.

It’s well-known that the large majority of .xyz names have been given away for free, largely without the registrants’ explicit consent, so it’s not a great measure of demand.

Still, it’s a milestone of sorts.

Some percentage of .xyz’s registrants will renew for a fee next year, so the larger its installed base, the larger the number of paid-for domains the registry could wind up with.

.vegas beats all six new M+M gTLDs combined

Kevin Murphy, September 16, 2014, Domain Registries

Minds + Machines’ first day of general availability for its first six wholly owned new gTLDs has produced some very disappointing numbers.

The company managed to net just 1,694 new domains across .country, .cooking, .vodka, .rodeo, .horse and .fishing combined yesterday, according to this morning’s zone files.

It has fewer than 2,000 names across all six zones.

Meanwhile, .vegas, which also went to GA yesterday, managed to net 2,933 new domains, ending the day at 3,903.

Here’s a table of M+M’s performance over its first seven or eight hours of GA, which began at 1600 UTC yesterday.

Net GainTotal Domains
.vodka421469
.cooking378439
.fishing350388
.horse287327
.country182220
.rodeo76107
TOTAL16941950

Assuming the zone files are fresh, it’s a poor first day for the company whichever way you look at it, especially given that M+M has been accepting pre-registrations in its TLDs since November 2013.

As well as being vertically integrated, M+M has about 80 third-party registrars on board to sell its names, including the largest.

Afilias’ .organic, which also went to GA yesterday, shows just one new registration today.

However, this can be attributed to the fact that registrants need to submit credentials for manual verification before their new domains are allowed to go live in the zone file.

“Yes” vote would be good for .scot

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2014, Domain Registries

The prospect of a healthy .scot gTLD would be improved if this week’s Scottish independence referendum produces a majority “Yes” vote.

People living in Scotland this Thursday get the opportunity to vote to split the country from the United Kingdom after over 300 years together.

While the No campaign seems to have been winning most of the opinion polls recently, the margin has been reportedly narrowing, and there are still large numbers of undecided voters.

Whichever way the vote goes, Dot Scot will take .scot to general availability next Tuesday.

The registry is backed by Scotland’s first minister, Alex Salmond, the leading voice of the Yes campaign, and it seems inevitable that a Yes vote will bode much better for its business prospects.

A vote to split would no doubt create a new sense of national pride in the small majority of Yes voters, spurring registrations in that community.

But, more importantly, it will mean that .scot will become, I believe, Scotland’s de facto ccTLD.

If Scotland does vote for independence, it would not formally split from the UK until, it is planned, March 2016.

The new country would not qualify for a ccTLD until some time after that — it would first have to be recognized by the United Nations, the International Standards Organization, and then ICANN.

When it did finally get a ccTLD delegated and launched, probably in 2017, its two-character string would not have much semantic relevance to most of the world’s internet users.

The ISO 3166-1 alpha-12 list, which assigns two-character codes to countries and territories, only has three strings beginning with S — SP, SQ and SW — currently unaccounted for.

.sc belongs to the Seychelles, for example, while Sao Tome and Principe has .st and Sudan has .sd.

One alternative put forward is .ab, which could be used to represent Alba, the Scots Gaelic name for Scotland.

But it’s hardly a commonly known name outside Scotland (even in the rest of the UK) and there are only 57,000 native Scots Gaelic speakers in a Scottish population of 5.3 million.

It seems pretty clear that if .scot goes up against .ab, or any other two-character string, .scot will win in the marketplace, in much the same way as .com eclipses .us today.

That would be the case even if .scot didn’t get the three-year head start that starts next week.