Wannabe dot-brands that dawdled and lost the chance to sign a new gTLD registry agreement with ICANN have been given a second shot.
ICANN yesterday introduced a new Application Eligibility Reinstatement process that will enable applicants to change their application status from the dead end of “Will Not Proceed”.
To demonstrate they really are committed to signing a contract, eligible applicants will have to submit a tonne of information about things such as their failure bond, pre- and post-delegation technical plans and registrar onboarding.
As we reported back in January, there were 12 applications belonging to 10 applicants that had simply drifted into limbo for failing to sign a contract by their respective deadlines.
There are 45 applications in “Will Not Proceed” status, but only the ones that timed out in contracting are eligible for the new process, obviously.
The number of top-level domains on the internet has topped 1,000 for the first time.
The delegation of seven new gTLDs today — .studio, .live, .jprs, .game, .bcn, .barcelona and .airtel — took the total number of TLDs in the DNS root zone to 1,002.
The DI database breaks the count down like this:
- 693 are new gTLDs from the 2012 application round.
- 286 are ccTLDs.
- 15 are gTLDs delegated by ICANN in earlier rounds.
- Eight are the original gTLDs created in the 1980s.
The vast majority of the TLDs are in Latin script. Just 91, a mixture of ccTLDs and gTLDs, are internationalized domain names.
It’s been 623 days since the first 2012-round new gTLD was delegated, meaning the root is growing by an average of 1.1 TLDs per day.
Afilias is on an overt campaign to snap up struggling new gTLDs at bargain basement prices.
“In the neighborhood of a dozen” gTLD operators responded seriously to Afilias’ booth at last month’s ICANN meeting in Buenos Aries, (pictured), Afilias chief marketing officer Roland LaPlante told DI in an interview today.
The company could potentially buy up tens of gTLDs over the coming year, LaPlante said.
“If all of these 500 strings with less than 5,000 names in them start looking for a new owner, it’s going to be a pretty active marketplace,” he said.
“There are entrants in the market who either have found the market is not as they expected, or results are not what they need, or for whatever other reason they’re coming to the conclusion this isn’t the business they should be in and they’re looking for options,” LaPlante said.
“There’s been a cold splash of water in the face for a lot of people who didn’t expect it, they’re struggling with relatively low revenues compared to what they might have expected,” he said. “They’re likely to be looking for options.”
Afilias would be happy to take these contracts off their current owners’ hands, for the right price.
“Frankly, we’re not going to be paying huge prices for them,” LaPlante.
“We’ve run into a number of folks who still have fairly inflated opinions of what their string is worth,” he said. “Some of these strings are attractive, but they’re going to need a lot more time to mature.”
Afilias believes that the economies of scale it already has in place would enable it to turn a profit at a much lower registration volume, perhaps under 50,000 names, and that it has the patience and financial strength to wait for its acquisitions to hit those volumes.
“We’re very conservative in our volume estimates,” LaPlante said.
Afilias currently has 26 new gTLDs as back-end and 13 as contracted registry operator.
The company is basically looking for acquisitions where the seller’s looming alternative might be the Emergency Back-End Registry Operator, and where the fees associated with an auction might be a bit too rich.
While LaPlante jokingly compared the proposition to the “We Buy Any Car” business model, he admitted that some registries are less attractive than others.
gTLDs with a lot of restrictions or monitoring would be treated with much more caution — Afilias was not interested in .hiv, which failed to sell at auction recently, for example — and would be skeptical about registries that have given away large numbers of free domains.
“We’d like to pick up strings that have good potential for a profitable amount of volume,” he said.
Afilias quietly sold .meet to Google earlier this year, but LaPlante denied that Afilias is in the business of flipping gTLDs. While he could not get into details, he said the .meet deal was a “special case”.
As we discovered last week, at least eight new gTLDs have changed ownership since signing their registry contracts. A few others have been acquired pre-contracting.
Brewing giant Carlsberg has joined Minds + Machines’ pioneer program for the .beer gTLD, buying 150 brand and generic .beer domains.
M+M said today that football.beer, which is arguably a more British domain than gov.uk, is among Carlsberg’s new portfolio.
The registry said in a press release: “football.beer will help support the company’s far-reaching commitment to the football. Carlsberg is a leading sponsor of UEFA EURO 2016, the Barclays Premier League, and Liverpool Football Club.”
The brewer will also use quality.beer in its marketing.
Trademarks baltika.beer, tuborg.beer, holsten.beer and kronenbourg.beer have also been acquired.
Carlsberg is the fifth-largest brewer in the world and fourth-largest in the UK, with annual global revenue of $9.5 billion.
The .beer gTLD could use the publicity. It has been in general availability since September last year. Today, it has fewer than 7,800 names in its zone file.
How’s this for a high-profile registrant?
A new stage musical, co-written by Blur front-man Damon Albarn, has opened in the UK this week, and it’s named after a new gTLD domain name.
wonder.land is a take on Alice in Wonderland that reportedly “tells the story of a 21st Century teen who immerses herself in a psychedelic online game.”
The production, which is running previews in Manchester until July 12 before transferring to the National Theatre in London this November, is using the domain wonder.land.
.land is a Donuts gTLD with about 13,000 domains in its zone.
Chrome users who search for wonder.land in their browser address bar will be taken to the domain rather than a search results page.