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TLDH raises $33.6m to fight new gTLD auctions

Kevin Murphy, January 31, 2014, Domain Registries

Top Level Domain Holdings has raised £21 million with an institutional investor share placement to help it win some new gTLD contention set auctions.

Its total war chest following the $33.6 million-ish placement will be about $63 million, albeit with $15 million of that earmarked for a single, as-yet-unspecified auction.

The company is currently in 43 contention sets, most of which it apparently wants to resolve via private auction. TLDH said in a statement:

The Company believes private auctions provide a significant opportunity for the Company both to increase the number of high-value gTLDs within its portfolio and to generate cash from those gTLDs which it chooses to relinquish. Under the private auction process, the winning bid is divided equally and paid to the losing applicants net of the auctioneer’s fees.

As part of TLDH’s transition from a revenue-free penny stock to a trading company, it’s going to change its name to Minds + Machines Limited, via a reverse takeover of its subsidiary of the same name.

The company said the move will help with “stakeholder communications and branding”.

Finally, TLDH said that founding director Guy Elliott is to leave its board of directors and be replaced by new non-executive director Elliot Noss. Noss is of course CEO of rival registry/registrar Tucows.

Tucows takes over as Cheapies loses accreditation

Kevin Murphy, November 8, 2013, Domain Registrars

ICANN has terminated the registrar Cheapies.com and is to transfer its registrations to Tucows.

Cheapies had fewer than 12,000 gTLD domains under management judging by the last available registry reports.

The registrar was terminated two weeks ago, having previously having its accreditation suspended for 90 days, for various violations of the Registrar Accreditation Agreement mainly related to records keeping.

ICANN said Cheapies’ customers should receive an email from Tucows instructing them how to proceed.

Uniregistry not happy about Donuts-Tucows deal

Kevin Murphy, August 5, 2013, Domain Registries

Uniregistry would never have withdrawn its applications for .media and .marketing if it had known that Tucows would later take money from Donuts to also withdraw, according to CEO Frank Schilling.

Schilling told DI tonight that Uniregistry had pulled out of both new gTLD contention sets after having made a deal with Tucows, the details of which he was unable to explain due to a non-disclosure agreement.

But he said that the deal would never have happened if he’d known the eventual outcome.

“Tucows left us under the impression that they were going to win this and had I known that they would fold in a subsequent private auction I would not have done this,” he said.

Tucows withdrew its bids for .media and .marketing weeks after Uniregistry, after making its own deal with Donuts, which is now the sole remaining applicant for the two strings.

As reported earlier today, Tucows and Donuts settled the two contention sets with a “cut and choose” arrangement, where Tucows named the price at which it was willing to withdraw and Donuts could choose to buy its withdrawals or sell its own withdrawals for the same price.

Donuts characterized the deal as a kind of private auction.

Uniregistry is on record as saying it doesn’t like the idea of private auctions, which it believes may fall foul of US antitrust law.

Donuts says Tucows deal “just another type of private auction”

Kevin Murphy, August 5, 2013, Domain Registries

Donuts has confirmed that it paid Tucows for the rights to the .media and .marketing new gTLDs, but says it was actually “just another type of private auction”.

The existence of a deal for the two strings emerged in a tongue-in-cheek Tucows video on Friday.

I blogged over the weekend that it was the first example I was aware of of Donuts settling a contention set outside of the private auction process it helped kick-start with Innovative Auctions.

But in a statement sent to DI today, Donuts characterized the Tucows deal as auction-like, saying:

Contention was resolved privately between the two applicants by a “cut and choose” method, whereby Tucows named a price at which it would withdraw its applications, and Donuts would decide either to “buy” or “sell” the position as sole remaining applicant.

Donuts elected to pay Tucows its stated price, and Donuts will continue as the sole applicant and exclusive operator for both TLDs, with no joint venture or revenue sharing agreement with any party.

Donuts remains strongly committed to private auctions as the preferred method of resolving contention for its applications and this was just another type of private auction.

Spoof video reveals Donuts paid Tucows for two gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, August 3, 2013, Domain Registries

This has to be the strangest way to announce a new gTLD partnership to date.

Judging by a spoof video uploaded to YouTube yesterday, Tucows withdrew its applications for the .media and .marketing new gTLDs after receiving a pay-off from rival applicant Donuts.

Presented as “the hotly contested .media and .marketing gTLD bout” between Tucows CEO Elliot Noss and Donuts co-founder Jon Nevett, the video humorously documents the negotiation process.

If you don’t have four minutes to spare, or if awkward office-based spoof videos make you want to beat yourself to death with a bright red stapler, here’s the money shot:

Noss v Nevett

While I’ve not yet received confirmation that the video is based on true events (it’s Saturday), the facts all fit.

Tucows withdrew both its .media and .marketing applications around July 26, according to the DI PRO new gTLD timeline, giving Donuts a clear run at delegation.

Uniregistry was the only other applicant in both contention sets, but withdrew its applications for .media and .marketing July 19 and June 21 respectively.

There’s nothing in the video to suggest that Uniregistry made a similar deal, but it seems likely.

It’s the first example I’m aware of of Donuts settling a contention set outside of the private auction process.