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Afilias gives its gTLDs a kick up the bum with U-turn 101domain buy

Kevin Murphy, October 16, 2015, 18:42:28 (UTC), Domain Registries

Afilias, once one of the fiercest opponents of registries owning registrars, has acquired 101domain to gain its first significant foothold in the registrar market.
Wolfgang Reile, president and CEO of 101domain, said he would be quitting the company and that COO/CFO Anthony Beltran will be leading the new Afilias unit in future.
The acquisition, which closed September 2, was for an undisclosed amount, but I’d say it was easily a seven-figure deal.
When Afilias rival CentralNic acquired last year, it paid $7.5 million.
California-based 101domain is currently about a quarter of the size that was when it was bought, based on gTLD domains under management, with a little over 120,000 names on its books as of June this year, according to registry reports.
But the company is well known as a go-to registrar if you want a broad choice of TLDs — it says it currently supports over 900. Its ccTLD sales may make the company much bigger.
Getting its stable of registry offerings to market is one of the reasons Afilias was drawn to 101domain.
Afilias’ own portfolio of TLDs contain some semi-restricted strings — such as .vote, which has a no-domaining policy — that would not be automatically attractive to many registrars.
Afilias told DI:

This acquisition furthers our post-vertical integration strategy of establishing a capability that enables us to both service our registry customers and ensure an outlet for TLDs of our own that may not be easy to find at a traditional registrar. 101domain is expected to continue to operate as it does today.

Afilias actually already had a registrar division — Emerald Registrar, which does business from — but had fewer than 1,500 domains under management at the last count.
Its registry business has over 20 million domains.
If you have a long memory, you may recall that Afilias was once dead-set against the concept of vertical integration — registries and registrars under the same ownership — which in the post-2012 new gTLD world has become industry standard.
The ICANN working group that was tasked with reforming ownership rule was held in stalemate by Afilias and Go Daddy back in 2010, before ICANN finally broke the deadlock.
New gTLD portfolio registries including Uniregistry, Google, Minds + Machines and Rightside have registrar businesses already. Famous Four seems to be closely aligned with Alpnames, and Donuts is tight with Rightside.

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Comments (5)

  1. Acro says:

    Very interesting analysis.
    I personally like 101domain and have used it for gTLD acquisitions. They appear to have the most extensive database of ccTLD/TLD/gTLD options!

  2. Another ironic twist if you care to peer into the mists of time: Afilias was, originally, an affiliated set of registrars.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Afilias was created by Andrew McLaughlin, an ICANN employee.
      Back in 2000, McLaughlin encouraged a bunch of registrars to come together to create the company we now know as Afilias.

      • Calvin says:

        Curious as to how “encouraged a bunch of registrars to come together to create” translates into “Afilias was created by”.

    • Christopher Ambler says:

      Wow, if only the real history were known, this would be even more ironic.
      One day I really should write a book.

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