The domain drop-catching arms race is heating up, with budget player Pheenix this week acquiring 300 more registrar accreditations from ICANN.
According to DI records, the company now has almost 500 registrar accreditations in its family.
More accreditations means more registry connections with which to attempt to acquire expired domains as they return to the available pool.
It also means that Pheenix’s dropnet (a word I just made up that sounds a bit like “botnet” in a pathetic attempt to coin a term for once in my career) is now a bit bigger than that of Web.com, the registrar pool behind Namejet and SnapNames.
It’s still a long way behind TurnCommerce, owner of DropCatch, which two weeks ago added a whopping 500 new accreditations, bringing its total to over 1,250.
An extra 300 accreditations would have cost Pheenix over $1 million in up-front ICANN fees and will incur ongoing fixed annual fees in excess of $1.2 million.
Web.com has acquired dozens of registrars from rival/partner Rightside, seemingly to boost the success rate of its SnapNames domain drop-catching business.
I’ve established that at least 44 registrars once managed by Rightside/eNom have moved to the Web.com stable in recent weeks, and that might not even be the half of it.
All of the registrars in question are shell companies used exclusively to register pre-ordered names as they are deleted by registries, usually Verisign.
The more registrars you have, the more EPP connections you have to the Verisign registry and the better your chance at catching a domain.
Web.com runs SnapNames, and is in a 50-50 partnership with Rightside on rival drop-catcher NameJet.
The two compete primarily with NameBright’s DropCatch.com, which obtained hundreds of fresh ICANN accreditations last year, bringing its total pool to over 750.
Web.com has fewer than 400 accreditations right now. Rightside has even fewer.
It’s usually quicker to buy a registrar than to obtain a new accreditation from ICANN.
If Web.com finds itself in need of more accreditations in order to compete, and Rightside is happy to let them go, it could be possible to infer that SnapNames is doing rather better in terms of customer acquisition than NameJet.
But the two services recently announced a partnership under which names grabbed by either network would be placed in an auction in which customers of either site could participate.
This would have the effect of increasing the number of caught names going to auction due to there being multiple bidders, and thus the eventual sales prices.
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.
— Colin.club (@ColinDotClub) January 14, 2015
.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.
Web.com has acquired domain name dropcatcher SnapNames for an undisclosed sum, according to press releases from it and former owner KeyDrive, confirming reports from Friday.
Web.com said the deal will be “immaterial” to its 2014 financial results.
The Nasdaq-listed company already owns leading registrars Network Solutions and Register.com. It’s also a new gTLD applicant, one of many companies having applied for .web.
KeyDrive acquired SnapNames, along with the registrar Moniker, from Oversee.net in 2012.
Just last week KeyDrive announced that Moniker, which with SnapNames had been managed by Craig Snyder, was getting a new CEO in the form of Key-Systems exec Bonnie Wittenberg.
KeyDrive has appointed Bonnie Wittenburg, Key-System USA executive vice president, as the new CEO of sister registrar Moniker.
She replaces Craig Snyder, who was CEO of Moniker and SnapNames and remains CEO of SnapNames. Wittenburg keeps her EVP roles at Key-Systems.
“Through her expanded role she will drive cooperation and develop a synergistic relationship between the KeyDrive members,” the company said in a statement.
The KeyDrive stable also includes Key-Systems, NameDrive and KS Registry.
Wittenberg is a 15-year veteran of the domain name industry, with previous stints at Network Solutions and Iron Mountain.