Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

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According to the complaint, the application was withdrawn June 6, a week before Reveal Day, after the company had TAS password problems and suspected foul play.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

Sedari hires Fay Howard as COO

Kevin Murphy, December 2, 2011, Domain Services

New gTLDs start-up Sedari has recruited Fay Howard, formerly general manager of CENTR, the Council for European National Top Level Domain Registries, as its new chief operating officer.

Howard has also previously worked at Nominet and Eurid, where she wrote the winning application for the .eu registry contract, according to Sedari.

It’s one of a number of recent senior hires for the company, which came out of stealth mode this summer to provide new gTLD applicants with application and registry management services.

Last month, the company hired Philip Shepard as director of policy.

Joint venture bids for Aussie city gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, November 21, 2011, Domain Registries

Cloud Registry, CoCCA and Sedari have teamed up to bid for the proposed Australian city top-level domains .melbourne and .sydney.

Sedari announced today that it has responded to the recently closed requests from proposals, which were opened by the state governments of New South Wales and Victoria a month ago.

The bid would see Cloud Registry operate the registry back-end itself, with Sedari handling back-office functions such as the ICANN contracts. CoCCA is on board for its country-code TLD experience.

While Sedari is UK-based, the venture has links to the continent.

CoCCA is based in New Zealand and has a NOC in Sydney, Cloud Registry is based in Sydney, and Sedari founder Liz Williams was once a board member of .au administrator auDA.

While no other firms have announced bids, you can expect that the usual suspects in the registry service provider market will have also applied.

I’d be surprised if local firm ARI Registry Services (formerly AusRegistry International), whose parent runs .au, is not a strong contender.

Staff changes at new gTLD consultancies

Kevin Murphy, November 16, 2011, Domain Services

There’s movement in the new top-level domains consultancy market this week, with new hires and departures at a couple of startups.

It’s been a case of one in, one out at Sedari, the registry management services company founded by Liz Williams this summer.

The company has hired Philip Sheppard, most recently director of public affairs for AIM, the European Brands Agency, as its new policy director.

Sheppard is an ICANN veteran from the IP/business side of the house, who has chaired multiple policy committees since becoming involved in 1999.

But Sedari has also lost another industry vet, Jothan Frakes, who’s decided to go freelance.

Elsewhere, FairWinds Partners, which shares management with the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, has also emerged publicly as a new gTLD consultancy.

The Washington DC-based company hope to use its track record of criticizing the new gTLD program to win the support of big brands skeptical about the ICANN process.

FairWinds said this week it’s taken on former ICANN director Michael Palage of Pharos Global, who has worked for both proponents and opponents of the program, apparently on a freelance basis.

Now you can outsource your whole gTLD

Kevin Murphy, August 26, 2011, Domain Services

It’s already common practice for domain name registries to outsource their technical operations to a back-end provider such as VeriSign or Afilias, but a new company hopes that new gTLD registries will want to go one step further.

Sedari, which appears to have soft-launched at the .nxt conference today, wants successful new gTLD applicants to outsource their back-office functions too.

The company, headed by former ICANN policy advisor Liz Williams, “helps string owners outsource the risk and responsibility of running a registry in compliance with ICANN’s contracts”, according to its site.

I understand this means functions such as billing, support, compliance, and liaising with the back-end registry and the front-end registrars.

I guess it’s going to be possible for a successful gTLD applicant to sign a registry contract with ICANN and then do very little to actually manage its day-to-day operation.

A registry that outsources its technical infrastructure to the likes of Neustar and its back office to Sedari will presumably be free to focus on nothing but marketing.

Sedari is staffed by a number of familiar faces.

Its CFO is Kevin Wilson, who had the same role at ICANN until January, and former ICANN director Dennis Jennings is on the board.

Its CTO is Wayne MacLaurin, who was previously CTO of Momentous. Jothan Frakes, formerly with Minds + Machines, is senior VP of channel management.