Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Chehade talks up split from US oversight

Kevin Murphy, October 28, 2013, Domain Policy

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade used his keynote address at the newdomains.org conference this morning to discuss his plans to divorce the organization from US governmental oversight.

With a split from the US recurring theme in his recent speeches, Chehade nevertheless warned that there were risks that such a move could create a dangerous governance vacuum.

“The current ICANN contract that gives the US government a unique role in the root management function is not sustainable,” he said. “It’s just not sustainable.”

That seems to be a reference to the IANA contract, in which the US has essentially a veto on ICANN’s decisions regarding root zone changes such as new gTLD delegations.

“I think we need to think together how we grow from that and how we globalize that contract,” he said. “But we need to be very careful about creating a vacuum or uninteded consequences that would destabilize the root of the internet.”

While Chehade noted that a split from the US has always been envisaged, he said that the revelations about US internet surveillance made by NSA defector Edward Snowden has provided a catalyst to speed it up.

When Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff recently called for a “multilateral” (read: inter-governmental, (read: ITU)) approach to internet governance, Chehade and an ICANN team traveled to Brazil to persuade her to instead focus on the creation of a “multistakeholder” model instead.

There’s now a “coalition” of the “I*” groups (ICANN, IETF, etc), big-name companies such as Disney, and governments such as Brazil, focused on creating multistakeholder solutions to problems — such as spam and cyber-bullying — that are not in ICANN’s purview Chehade said.

There’s a multistakeholder meeting planned for April or May next year (I’ve heard both dates), to be hosted by Brazil, that will look at internet governance post-Snowden.

This meeting is about “allowing ICANN to not expand its remit”, according to Chehade. He said: “We don’t want to expand our remit.”

What we seem to be looking at here is the creation for a new organization, of which ICANN could be a member, that will allow stakeholders to coordinate responses to tricky cross-border internet problems.

While ICANN seems to be taking the leading role in its creation, it doesn’t sound like ICANN is trying to get into issues beyond naming and addressing, judging by Chehade’s speech this morning

Chehade also talked up ICANN’s support for the domain name industry.

He admitted that ICANN has caused a lot of problems for new gTLD applicants over the course of the gTLD program, but promised that this will change, with ICANN taking a more “background” role.

“You need less risk and more stability from the ICANN side,” he said. “You have suffered for a long time from a lot of instability, a lot of unknowns.”

Increased automation, internationlization and professionalism from ICANN will serve this goal, he said.

ICANN’s compliance department, he added, should “not be the policeman for the industry but be customer service for the registrants”, he said.

newdomains.org ticket compo winners announced

Kevin Murphy, September 26, 2013, Domain Services

The winners of the recent DI prize draw, with three free tickets for the newdomains.org conference at stake, have been confirmed.

To enter the competition, you simply had to leave a comment on DI completing the sentence “The biggest challenge facing new gTLDs next year will be…”

I read all the submissions and found them all interesting but ultimately the comments were completely irrelevant in determining the winners, which were selected by three random numbers generated by Random.org.

The winners were:

  • Colin Campbell of .CLUB Domains.
  • Jeffrey Sass of .CLUB Domains.
  • Phil Buckingham of DotAdvice.

It definitely looks weird that two people from the same company won tickets. Weird enough that for half a second I wondered whether justice would be better serviced if were to fix a different outcome.

But I didn’t. If it looks unjust, blame randomness. Fate’s a bitch.

Many thanks to all who entered. There were some interesting comments.

Win free tickets to the newdomains.org conference

Kevin Murphy, September 12, 2013, Domain Services

DI has three tickets to the upcoming new gTLDs conference newdomains.org to give away to three lucky readers, courtesy of organizer United-Domains.

It’s the second newdomains.org event. The first, in 2011, was pretty good but hampered slightly by being scheduled before the ICANN new gTLD program officially kicked off.

With new gTLDs likely to be in the root by the time this year’s conference rolls around in October, the chance of good conversation and some productive networking is likely to be much improved.

Speakers on the agenda include ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade and Google’s Jordyn Buchanan, as well as many senior domain name industry executives, and me.

The event runs from October 28 to 29 at the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost in Munich, Germany.

Our giveaway covers tickets for the conference (valued at €821.10 each) but not the cost of your transport or accommodation, so if you can’t make it, please don’t enter.

To be in with a chance of winning, just leave a comment on this post completing the following sentence:

The biggest challenge facing new gTLDs next year will be…

We’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner early next week.

UPDATE 9/16: Entries are now closed. Winners will be selected on Tuesday.

Tickets on sale for newdomains.org conference

Kevin Murphy, June 19, 2013, Domain Services

After a year’s hiatus, the newdomains.org conference organized by United-Domains is back this October.

Registration has now opened for the two-day event, which is entirely focused on the new gTLD market. The agenda is still forming and United is looking for speakers.

The conference will take place in Munich at the Sofitel Munich Bayerpost hotel from October 28 to 29. Unlike the 2011 event, I believe this time the official Oktoberfest jollities will be over.

Early bird registration comes to €583 ($780) when you include VAT. Prices go up to €821 July 15.

Afilias, Verisign, Donuts, PIR, InternetX, Sedo, Nic.at have already signed up to sponsor.

While in 2011 newdomains had to compete with .nxt for your new gTLD conference dollar, this time it’s competing with Momentum’s gTLD Strategy Congress, coming to London in September.

Like .nxt, the first newdomains.org suffered from coming before the Big Reveal and became a bit of a vendor echo chamber as a result, but was nevertheless a breath of fresh air compared to ICANN meetings.

By October we might have seen the first new gTLDs go live, so this year it will likely be a different story. DI will be in attendance.

German toilet provider has Best. Domain. Ever.

Kevin Murphy, September 29, 2011, Gossip

A few of us attending the newdomains.org conference in Munich this week spotted what is possibly the most inadvertently funny domain name in the history of the internet.

We found this advertised in the men’s room at Oktoberfest:

ass-container.de

It would be funny enough merely seeing that domain on a poster in a public toilet, but what makes it perfect is that the company it advertised, ASS GmbH, is in the business of providing portable toilets for large events.

Mike Berkens of TheDomains has photographic evidence of the poster itself (I don’t usually take a camera to the toilet with me) but in the absence of that photo, here’s a capture from the firm’s site.

Ass Container

Notes from day one of the Munich new gTLDs conference

Kevin Murphy, September 26, 2011, Domain Registries

The newdomains.org conference on new top-level domains kicked off here in Munich today, the first major show in Europe dedicated to new gTLDs.

The city is the grasp of Oktoberfest at the moment – the drunk tourist contingent is high, and it seems like every fifth person you pass on the street is in traditional local costume.

Hairy knees and lederhosen are the order of the day for the men. For the ladies: tight, low-cut biermädchen bodices and flowing skirts in earthy colors. Cleavage as far as the eye can see.

Munich feels, to this cultural Luddite at least, like it’s ready to dissolve into a bawdy, soft-core 1970s Bavarian sex comedy at any moment.

Thankfully, inside the stylish Sofitel Munich Bayerpost hotel the attire is strictly business-casual.

Turnout for newdomains.org appears to be good — maybe a couple hundred people — and there are plenty of faces beyond the “usual suspects”, thanks probably to the number of locals in attendance.

Today kicked off with a keynote from new ICANN chair Steve Crocker.

Allotted 30 minutes, he whizzed through his presentation on “New gTLDs: Innovation and Protection” in about 20, covering many of the same bases, I’m told by attendees, as he did at the INTA trademark conference in Washington DC last week.

“These new TLDs are a springboard for innovation,” he said. “But this must not happen at the expense of brand holders.”

At a press conference later, I got the distinct impression – and it is only my impression – that Crocker is rather more enthusiastic about the program than ICANN’s current softly-softly approach to new gTLDs outreach allows him to express.

The party line from ICANN for the last few weeks has been one of “awareness, not advocacy”, which Crocker toed loyally today.

This may be sensible – it should not be seen to encourage the world and his dog to apply for a new gTLD – but the end result is that the naysayers have managed to successfully frame the issue, which is reflected in the largely negative questions that are usually asked.

The conference is split into two streams, one aimed at newbies, the other at people in more advanced stages of planning their new gTLD bids. I’ve been mainly sitting in on the latter.

In the morning, Roland LaPlante from Afilias presented some really good data and charts showing domain registration trends in the new gTLDs that have been introduced over the last 10 years – both ICANN-approved gTLDs and ccTLDs such as .eu and .me.

If there was one big takeaway from that session, it was that the first and second-year renewal dates are crucial if you want to build a sustainable gTLD. Every TLD dips around that mark.

LaPlante also revealed that, in a first-quarter 2011 survey, 18.7% of .info addresses hosted unique, dedicated web sites. About 65% were inactive or redirected to other TLDs.

While this seems like a small amount, given the size of .info it actually works out to a couple of million people/businesses using a non-.com gTLD as their main home on the web. Any TLD, I think, would be happy to have so many actual users.

The main letdown in the Afilias data, I thought, was the absence of any mention of the success of .co.

Fair enough, .co is only a year old and its numbers are not fully public, but the cynic in me notes that its exclusion probably will have made Afilias’ back-end figures shape up against rival Neustar’s rather better than they would have otherwise.

In the afternoon, I moderated a panel on registration strategies in the world of new gTLDs, featuring Monte Cahn and Mike Berkens of Right Of The Dot and Tim Schumacher of Sedo.

But first, I caught the tail-end of a presentation about internet policy from PIR’s CEO Brian Cute, who seems to be worried about the growing problem of governments using domain takedown notices as a means of law enforcement.

Schumacher kicked off our session with a presentation on his thoughts about new gTLD pricing, in which he compared four categories of company you might find on the stockmarket to four equivalent categories of domain names.

Essentially, he concluded that new gTLDs are going to be split between “junk” – the gTLD equivalent of www.a-junk-site.ws – and “brands” – comparable to vodka.com.

He said the new gTLD boom will mean “Some new business. No real change.” in terms of pricing and said a small number of “disruptive” new registries could help the industry.

We then launched into a discussion of registries’ premium name strategies – how to balance the allocation of premiums between founders programs, landrush auctions and registry reservations.

Unsurprisingly, you couldn’t slide a cigarette paper between Cahn and Berkens, but I think there was probably some disagreement on the panel about the relative importance of the role of domain investors in promoting a new gTLD.

Berkens said that high-profile domainers are “market-makers”, helping set the valuation expectations, whereas Schumacher (and to a lesser extent some of my questions) put a greater emphasis on the need for end user adoption and development.

It’s difficult to judge the success of a panel you’re sitting on, but I will admit that we shamefully overlooked the issue of IDNs until the closing moments, which was entirely my fault.

I finished the day at the “Ask the Experts” session in the newbie channel, on the basis that I’ve listened to enough panels on new gTLDs in the last two years to know that the value, for me, is in the questions.

Sadly, possibly due to attendees flagging at the end of the day, there weren’t many questions from the floor, leaving professional moderator Melinda Crane to pick up the slack.

One session unlikely to have that problem tomorrow is a two-man panel on the Applicant Guidebook comprising ICANN’s Kurt Pritz and Olof Nordling.

Today, these two ICANN experts been sitting on the front row of many sessions, enabling panelists to deflect tricky audience questions about the application process to them.

I don’t think there will be any shortage of questions during their session tomorrow.

Last chance to win newdomains.org tickets

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2011, Domain Services

Congratulations to Jim Davies, you’ve just won a free conference pass for newdomains.org worth $1,000 for entering the latest DomainIncite competition.

Random.org’s random number sequence generator selected the winning order of tweets qualifying for the draw, and Twitter handle @PerthPom came top of the list.

That’s a second Australia-based winner, by the looks of things, after Michael’s win on Monday. I hope you guys can both afford the airfare.

Competition Day Three

I have two final tickets to give away.

To reiterate, they’re Full Conference passes for the newdomains.org conference in Munich, Germany, on September 26 and 27. Flights, hotels and Oktoberfest not included. Details here.

If you want a pass, just leave a comment here before 2359 UTC Sunday August 14, saying why you think you should get one. Make something up.

I’ll use Random.org again to pick the two lucky winners and announce the names on Monday.

All winners will be contacted by somebody from the conference organizer, United-Domains, next week.

UPDATE: Proving just how random Random.org is, the winning order it selected was 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The winners are TAG and Daniel. I’ll be in touch.

Your second chance to win a $1,000 conference pass

Kevin Murphy, August 8, 2011, Domain Services

Congratulations to “Michael”, you’ve just won a free conference pass for newdomains.org worth $1,000 just for leaving a comment on DomainIncite.

Random.org’s random number sequence generator selected the winning order of comments earlier today, and Michael came top of the list.

His winning answer to the question of “What new gTLD(s) do you think will be successful, and why?” was:

If success is defined by the value it offers the Internet community and not by the number of registrations then I think that a cause based TLD like .Eco or .HIV will be the most successful as they will revolutionize the way we interest with charities online and show our support, ushering in a new era.

I’ve hooked the winner up with conference organizer United-Domains.

And now on to…

Competition Day Two

To be in with a chance at winning the second Full Conference pass to newdomains.org, simply:

1) Follow me on Twitter (if you’re not already doing so).

2) Send a tweet mentioning @domainincite and including the hashtag #conferencecompo

Tweets must be sent by 2359 UTC, Tuesday August 9. I’ll announce the randomly-selected winner here on Wednesday.

Again, the prize does not include transportation or accommodation, but it does include a certain amount of food and drink, along with access to all the panels and exhibits.

The show runs September 26-27 in Munich, Germany.

These Full Conference passes are currently selling for €699 ($1,000) each, so if you’re currently wondering whether or not to attend, a free ticket may help make your mind up.

Win $4,000 of newdomains.org conference tickets

Kevin Murphy, August 3, 2011, Domain Services

I have four free passes for the upcoming newdomains.org conference, a total value of $4,000, which I will be giving away to lucky DomainIncite readers over the coming week.

The conference, the first in Europe to focus purely on the opportunities and challenges in ICANN’s new generic top-level domains program, is due to run September 26-27 in Munich, Germany.

The organizer, United-Domains, has generously offered to give four free “Full Conference” passes to DI readers. These are currently selling for €699 ($1,000) each.

The passes include full access to the panels (which will all be conducted in English) and the exhibits, as well as dinner, lunches and ample networking opportunities.

The prizes do not include transport to or accommodation in Munich. The passes also do not include the social event at the Oktoberfest beer festival scheduled for the second night.

See the newdomains.org site for ticket details.

I’ve agreed to participate in two of the conference panel discussions, but don’t let that put you off.

Competition Day One

There will be four random draws conducted over the coming week, with one ticket for each winner.

To be in with a chance to win the first pass, simply leave a comment on this post answering the following questions:

1) Which new gTLD(s) do you think will be successful?

2) Why?

You can define “successful” in any way you want. I will use the random number sequence generator at Random.org to select the winning order of comments, so there’s no “correct” or “best” answer.

It doesn’t have to be an already-announced gTLD bid. Any string(s) you think will be successful as a gTLD is acceptable. If you want to plug your own application, that’s okay too.

But anybody who answers “1) .com, 2) because it’s king” will be automatically disqualified.

The closing time for entries is 1159 UTC, Sunday August 7, judged by the time-stamp on the comment. The winner will be announced here on Monday. One entry per person.

Make sure to leave your comment using a genuine email address, as that is the method I’ll use to hook the winner up with the conference organizers.

The draw will be completely fair, so no asking for favors. In true ICANN spirit, if I suspect “gaming” is going on I reserve the right to unilaterally change the rules.

Okay, let’s see how this goes…

New TLDs conference calls for speakers

The newdomains.org conference on new top-level domains, scheduled for September 26 and 27 in Munich, has put out a call for speakers.

Here’s the catch: if you’re interested, you might need an audition tape. The organizers want to see a short YouTube clip of your presenting skills in action before they consider your pitch.

Ram Mohan, CTO of Afilias, and Tim Schumacher, CEO of Sedo, are both already named on the draft agenda, but there are still plenty of open spots, including the first-day keynote.

Franz Josef Pschierer, IT commissioner of the Bavarian state government, will keynote day two.

The conference is being organized by the registrar United Domains, part of the same family of domain name companies as Sedo and 1&1 Internet.

While newdomains.org will take place in Germany, possibly the biggest market for new TLDs outside of the US, all the sessions will be conducted exclusively in English.

The conference currently looks like it’s shaping up along the same lines as the .nxt conference last month, with sessions on brand protection, community building, marketing and so on.

One notable difference is the addition of coached “workshops” as well as panel discussions.

Extracurricular activities include a tram ride around the city and a visit to the Hippodrom tent at Oktoberfest, the world-famous beer-drinking festival.

Needless to say, I shall be in attendance. For the trams, obviously.