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.com-dominated NamesCon auction already has one million-dollar bid

Kevin Murphy, January 17, 2017, Domain Sales

There’s still about week to go until this year’s NamesCon conference kicks off in Las Vegas, but the live auction that will close the first day of the show has already seen pre-bidding action.

One batch of domains has already received a high bid of $1,010,000, but does not appear to have yet met its reserve.

The batch is led by bar.com, but also includes bar.net, cafes.com, grill.com, place.com, pub.com and shelter.com.

Another five domains on the list, all .com names, have attracted bids in six figures, topped by the $800,000 bid for ol.com.

The list of names up for pre-bid on NameJet (100 of which will hit the live auction) is dominated by Verisign TLDs — .com, obviously, and to a lesser extent .net and .tv.

The biggest pre-bid for a 2012-round gTLD is the $1,010 currently offered for gold.club, roughly 110th on the list as ordered by current bid.

The most active new gTLD auction is currently shoes.xyz, which has 28 bidders but a top bid of just $330.

I’m not sure how much can be inferred from pre-bids, but it certainly seems that most of the money from domain investors is still being put into short, one or two-word .com domains.

The auction will begin at 1500 US Pacific Time next Monday, January 23.

The auction is being managed and promoted by Right Of The Dot and NameJet. Would-be buyers need a NameJet account to participate.

Names not sold during the live event will go to an extended auction until February 9. ROTD’s Monte Cahn said this is in order to give Chinese bidders time to bid after Chinese New Year (January 28 this year).

Seller’s remorse despite .club leading $1m NamesCon auction

Kevin Murphy, January 14, 2015, Domain Services

The Right Of The Dot and SnapNames auction here at the NamesCon conference in Las Vegas last night raised just shy of $1 million, in what attendees broadly seem to agree was a successful event.

The grand total was $990,851, with 87 out of the 134 lots hitting their reserve and selling during the live/online bidding.

Leading the pack was homecare.com, which sold for $350,000.

But that deal actually closed before the live event began, leaving .CLUB Domains’ wine.club at the top of the sold list with a winning $140,000 bid.

Despite the sale, registry CEO Colin Campbell — evidently disappointed he had not placed a higher reserve on the name, expressed some seller’s remorse on Twitter this morning.

.CLUB also offloaded reserved names weed.club ($16,000), fight.club ($13,500) and tequila.club ($8,000), among others.

.com of course had the best night, with carauctions.com going for $90,000, susan.com going for $34,000 and tik.com and vil.com both going for $33,000.

Organizer Mike Berkens took a $76,000 hit on sexeducation.com, which he purchased for $100,000 and sold without reserve for $24,000.

Also noteworthy was what I believe was the biggest bid of the night — a $1.2 million in-room bid for auctions.com, owned by .xyz registry CEO Daniel Negari.

The domain failed to meet its reserve, however, and will join the other unsold names in an extended online auction that begins this weekend.

ROTD lends geo names to CentralNic registrar push

Kevin Murphy, November 1, 2014, Domain Registrars

CentralNic and Right Of The Dot have teamed up to offer a series of geographically themed registrar storefronts for new gTLDs.

Under a joint venture, the companies are launching sites such as london.domains, vegas.domains, tokyo.domains and nyc.domains.

ROTD, the new gTLD venture launched by Mike Berkens and Monte Cahn, acquired these premium domains from Donuts during the .domains Early Access Period.

The second level strings all match the third-party geo-gTLDs that will be offered via these sites. Another 12 will be launched before the end of the year, the companies said.

CentralNic, best known as a registry, will provide the back-end for the site, as part of its push into the registrar side of the market that kicked off with its $7.5 million acquisition of Internet.bs.

ROTD conducts first new gTLD auction as One.com wins .one

Kevin Murphy, February 25, 2014, Domain Sales

Danish registrar One.com has won the .one contention set in the first private auction carried out by new gTLD consultancy Right Of The Dot.

One.com beat Radix, the United Arab Emirates-based portfolio applicant, to the string. Radix withdrew its application last week. The price has not been disclosed.

ROTD, Mike Berkens and Monte Cahn-managed company, has been competing with Applicant Auction for contention set resolution services and this is its first win.

The .one auction was carried out using a “single sealed bid second price” methodology, in which all participants privately submit a single bid and the winner pays the second-highest losing bid.

In this case, One.com will have paid Radix whatever bid Radix had put forward, with ROTD and escrow partner Escrow.com taking their fees from the winning bid.

Applicant Auction uses an “ascending clock” method, where bids are set in increments by the auctioneer over the space of several rounds, with bidders choosing to stay in or drop out in each round.

Cahn said in a press release: “Our Single Sealed Bid Second Price auction method protects the participants from ‘auction fever,’ which often causes over-bidding as people get emotionally tied to the process of winning at any cost due to time committed and sometimes throw their budgets out the window.”

Right Of The Dot partners with Heritage for hybrid auctions

Kevin Murphy, January 15, 2014, Domain Services

Domain sales consultancy Right Of The Dot and collectibles auctioneer Heritage Auctions have made a deal to bring hybrid live/online auctions to the new gTLD space.

According to a ROTD press release, such services will be made available for new gTLD contention set resolution and premium second-level domain sales.

Heritage is pretty new to the domain name space, but its IP division is headed by Aron Meystedt, current owner of symbolics.com, the world’s oldest .com domain.

Right Of The Dot gets legal opinion: new gTLD auctions not illegal

Kevin Murphy, April 4, 2013, Domain Services

Right Of The Dot, one of the companies hoping to offer contention set resolution services to new gTLD applicants, has published a legal opinion arguing that auctions are not inherently illegal.

The document was issued in response to Uniregistry’s claim that the US Department of Justice has refused to give auctions a green light under antitrust law.

ROTD hired the law firm Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith, including a partner with DoJ experience, to draft the statement.

It’s aimed at lawyers, primarily, but the gist of it is that simply participating in an auction is not illegal in and of itself — participants would have to collude in some other way too.

It states:

The finding of an antitrust violation necessarily would depend on a showing that the private auction unreasonably restrained interstate trade or commerce.

The question comes down to the conduct of the parties to an auction, be it a private auction or an ICANN Last Resort Auction.

If the parties to an auction, engage in collusion such as price fixing and/or bid rigging, it constitute per se violations of Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

It’s not the auction provider that creates a violation it’s the action of the parties to an auction and those actions can take place in an ICANN Last Resort auction.

In other words, there’s no difference between an ICANN-run auction, in which ICANN gets paid, and a private auction in which the participants and the auctioneer get paid, according to these lawyers.

Uniregistry’s argument as I understand it, on the other hand, is that simply participating in an action that could constitute illegal collusion, because ICANN ends up out of pocket.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

I think the only person who could answer that, in light of the DoJ’s refusal to intervene, would be a judge. We’re unlikely to get an answer unless somebody sues somebody.

DoJ says new gTLD private auctions might be illegal

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2013, Domain Registries

Companies hoping to resolve their new gTLD contention sets via private auction are about to get a rude awakening: according to the US Department of Justice, they might be illegal.

Portfolio applicant Uniregistry, the company founded by domainer Frank Schilling, said today that the DoJ has told it that:

arrangements by which private parties agree to resolve gTLD string contentions solely to avoid a public auction present antitrust issues.

The company contacted the department last October to get a “business review” decision, basically asking the DoJ for an assurance that it would not be prosecuted if it participated in a private auction.

The DoJ refused to give that assurance.

Uniregistry counsel Bret Fausett told DI that private auctions might be seen as “bid rigging”, an illegal practice in which competitors fix the awarding of contracts.

Schilling said that Uniregistry asked the DoJ for its advice because “we don’t want to go to jail”.

According to the company:

On March 18, 2013, Uniregistry was informed that the Department of Justice has declined to issue a business review of various private gTLD contention resolution mechanisms. In making its decision, the Department emphasized that no private party, including ICANN, has the authority to grant to any other party exemptions to, or immunity from, the antitrust laws. The decision means that the Department of Justice reserves its right to prosecute and/or seek civil penalties from persons or companies that participate in anti-competitive schemes in violation of applicable antitrust laws.

New gTLD applicants are now being advised to consult their own lawyers before participating in a private auction.

The news will come as a huge blow to companies such as Right Of The Dot and Cramton Associates, which have been at the forefront of pushing the private auction concept to applicants.

It’s also going to be a massive blow to any company that had banked on getting a pay-off to withdraw their applications following a private auction.

The benefit of private auctions — over the ICANN-managed auctions of last resort — is that the losing applicants get a share of the winning applicant’s winning bid.

In an ICANN auction, all the money goes to ICANN, which has promised to use to money to fund worthy causes.

Uniregistry has issued a press release on its talks with the DoJ here (pdf).

Right Of The Dot to offer new gTLD contention auctions with Escrow.com

Kevin Murphy, November 2, 2012, Domain Services

New gTLD consultancy Right Of The Dot has partnered with Escrow.com on a new auction offering designed for new gTLD applicants in contention sets.

The deal, which ROTD said is exclusive, will enable the company to offer trustworthy escrow of funds as part of its auction service.

ROTD is planning three standard types of auction design — sealed-bid, ascending bid and live oral — for when mediation between gTLD applicants fails or is not wanted.

Its fees start at 4% of the winning bid, with the remainder being distributed to losing bidders.

Private auctions are expected in many cases to be the contention resolution method of choice for new gTLD applicants, because the losing bidders get paid when they drop out.

The alternative method laid out in the ICANN Applicant Guidebook would see funds flow instead to ICANN.

ROTD is the consultancy formed last year by well-known domain investors Monte Cahn (formerly of Moniker) and Michael Berkens (author of TheDomains.com).

Afilias links up with Right Of The Dot

Afilias and Right Of The Dot have announced a partnership to jointly assist new top-level domain applicants.

Right Of The Dot is Monte Cahn and Mike Berkens’ latest venture, a consulting firm focused primarily on helping new registries price their “premium” second-level domains.

Afilias runs the .info registry and provides registry services for many other TLDs, including .org.

The Afilias deal is the first major partnership Right Of The Dot has announced.

dotMusic and ICANN execs form TLD consultancy

Kevin Murphy, March 11, 2011, Domain Services

Just what the world needs, another top-level domain consultancy.

Constantine Roussos, best known his campaign for .music, has teamed up with ICANN veteran Tina Dam to launch MyTLD.com, promising to help applicants with their TLD bids.

Dam was senior director of internationalized domain names at ICANN, spearheading the IDN ccTLD Fast Track program, until she quit last December.

Those are good credentials, especially for supporting IDN TLD applicants.

Dam is currently critical of how ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook treats IDN TLDs, saying that the process is too expensive and does not effectively handle transliterations and translations.

Roussos is an entrepreneur, owner of music.us/.biz/.co, who has been pushing his own self-financed .music bid for the last couple of years.

A running joke at the recent .nxt conference was that he was once an “outsider” but has since been firmly institutionalized by the ICANN environment. He’s also critical of aspects of the Guidebook.

MyTLD.com is the latest of a series of companies to form over the last few months to provide consulting to potential TLD applicants.

Recently, domain investors Mike Berkens and Monte Cahn founded Right Of The Dot, which specializes in marketing and premium domain strategy.

And Alexa Raad, former CEO of the .org registry PIR, is currently plugging her new consulting play, Architelos.