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ICANN dragging its feet on new gTLD refunds?

Kevin Murphy, September 10, 2012, Domain Registries

Former new gTLD applicants are having to wait for months to have their deposits refunded by ICANN, according to two companies that withdrew applications before Reveal Day.

One company withdrew four applications and requested a refund on May 7, some weeks before the TLD Application System closed to new applicants, according to the consultancy Sedari.

But the company, a Sedari client, is still waiting for the return of its $20,000 TAS access fee over four months later, according to Sedari.

Another applicant, GJB Partners, filed a complaint with the California Attorney General in July after waiting for over a month for the refund of a $185,000 application fee.

According to the complaint, the application was withdrawn June 6, a week before Reveal Day, after the company had TAS password problems and suspected foul play.

The company eventually received its refund July 11, shortly after filing the AG complaint.

Sedari’s client has yet to received its refunds, according to the company.

Are any other readers experiencing similar problems?

DomainDiction hires industry vets to market gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, May 21, 2012, Domain Services

DomainDiction, a new marketing company set up to help new generic top-level domain registries, officially launches today.

The largely European company, headed by France-based CEO Jennie-Marie Larsen, says it is “the first marketing consultancy dedicated solely to Top Level Domains”.

Larsen started off her career in the domain name industry at NeuStar, and was most recently chief marketing officer at the new gTLD business management firm Sedari.

Fellow industry veteran Pinky Brand, who helped launch .mobi and was revealed last week to have left registry manager Afilias, is DomainDiction’s new chief strategy officer.

Larsen said in a press release:

DomainDiction´s expertise is multi-channel, international domain marketing. By utilizing a wide range of marketing tools, we are able to offer innovative strategies and outreach programs across each phase from sunrise, landrush, to renewals. We leverage our close registrar channel relationships, international PR, online marketing, and complex SEO & PPC strategies to ensure success for each TLD.

Also on the team: John Kirkham (formerly with HostEurope), Tina Lord (former CMO of EasySpace), Henry Lewington (Barracuda Digital) and Christoph Hausel (whose agency, Element C, has previously worked for Afilias and NeuStar).

Rob Rozicki, who a couple of years ago made a lot of noise about applying for five sports-based gTLDs (.skate, .ski, .board, etc) is on board as head of North American online marketing.

While DomainDiction is certainly the first pure-play new gTLD marketing outfit that I can think of, the company will face competition from traditional PR firms and other gTLD consultancies.

Architelos, which made over a million dollars consulting with new gTLD applicants over the application period, recently launched its own marketing service, Velocity.

DomainDiction is set to launch this afternoon.

Sedari working on .africa gTLD bid

Kevin Murphy, February 28, 2012, Domain Registries

Sedari has been contracted to support the controversial African Union-backed .africa top-level domain application.

The new gTLD specialist will supply UniForum with its usual suite of financial, technical and policy support services, Sedari said today.

South Africa-based UniForum was given approval for its .africa bid by the AU last week, raising questions over a longstanding rival application by DotConnectAfrica.

UniForum is already responsible for South Africa’s .za country-code top-level domain.

Sedari wins .moscow contract

Kevin Murphy, January 25, 2012, Domain Registries

Registry services start-up Sedari has won a deal to support for an application for the .moscow and .МОСКВА generic top-level domains.

The deal is with the non-profit Foundation for Assistance for Internet Technologies and Infrastructure Development, which is handling Moscow’s official bid.

It’s Sedari’s first contract with a city gTLD bid, according to the company.

FAITID describes the company as its “strategic international partner”, chosen to help out with the application due to its expertise with all things ICANN.

RU-Center, the largest Russian registrar, is still its key partner in Russia.

Former ICANN CFO sues Sedari over €100k deal

Kevin Murphy, December 5, 2011, Domain Services

Kevin Wilson, who joined new gTLD consultancy Sedari as chief financial officer earlier this year, was fired in October and is now suing the company over a €100,000 investment deal gone bad.

Wilson, who spent four years as ICANN’s CFO, was one of a number of familiar domain name industry faces to join UK-based Sedari when it came out of stealth mode this summer.

But he was let go in October after falling out with CEO Liz Williams over financial matters.

Wilson claims that even as CFO he had to fight for access to Sedari’s financial records, and that when he finally questioned the company’s accounting he was terminated.

His termination letter said that Sedari had “very serious concerns” about his performance.

He had agreed to invest €100,000, in two €50,000 installments, and was fired shortly after deciding not to make the second payment, according to his legal complaint.

Wilson claims that he agreed to become an investor after being told about paying clients, including Cloud Registry, that he came to believe may not have existed.

He also alleges that “substantial sums” were taken from the company coffers by Williams for spa treatments and other personal expenditures.

The lawsuit alleges “fraud” on this basis, and seeks the return of Wilson’s initial €50,000 stake.

Wilson also wants the court to declare that, as a resident of California, he is not bound by the post-employment non-compete clauses of his contract.

He’s currently an independent new gTLDs consultant.

Sedari, through its solicitor Faegre & Benson, said in a statement:

Mr. Wilson has reneged on his legally binding obligations to Sedari both in relation to the payment by him of certain sums and his agreement not to act contrary to the best interest of the company. As a result, the Board has forfeited Mr. Wilson’s shares and taken further action to enforce its rights against him.

The statement notes that Sedari has not yet been formally served the complaint – which was filed in the Superior Court in Los Angeles on October 25 – adding:

In the event that Mr. Wilson proceeds with his complaint, it will be defended comprehensively.

The claim is devoid of merit, wrong in fact and all material allegations are rejected. Mr. Wilson will also be pursued for any further loss his actions may cause the alleged defendants.

Wilson said in a statement that he wants to “resolve matters amicably”.

According to exhibits filed with the lawsuit, Sedari’s other investors include Williams, with a majority 53.7% stake, as well as director Dennis Jennings and policy chief Philip Sheppard.

Registry services provider Afilias paid $375,000 for a 27.4% stake in the company, according to these documents. Its chairman, Philipp Grabensee, sits on the Sedari board.

Here’s the complaint.

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