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PIR says it has no plans to raise .org prices

Kevin Murphy, May 7, 2019, 13:35:08 (UTC), Domain Registries

Public Interest Registry claims it has no plans to raise its wholesale fee for .org domains, in the face of outrage from domainers and non-profits.
Under a proposed renegotiated contract with ICANN, price caps that have limited PIR to a 10% price increase every year would be removed.
But in a statement last week, the company said:

Rest assured, we will not raise prices unreasonably. In fact, we currently have no specific plans for any price increases for .ORG. We simply are moving to the standard registry agreement with all of its applicable provisions that already is in place for more than 1,200 other top-level domain extensions.

This does not necessarily translate to a commitment to not raise prices, of course. PIR may have “no specific plans” today, but it may tomorrow.
Over 3,300 people and organizations filed comments with ICANN about the proposed removal of the price caps, almost all of them negative.
Comments came initially from domain investors, but they were soon joined by many non-profit .org registrants and others.
Most claimed that it was unfair to allow unlimited price increases in legacy, pre-2012 gTLDs such as .org, which can be seen more as a public trust.
PIR went on to point out in its letter that it has not raised its prices — believed to be still under $10 a year — for the last three years.
But it might be worth noting that senior management has changed in that period. Brian Cute left the CEO job a year ago and, after an interim caretaker manager, was replaced by Donuts alumnus Jon Nevett in December.
.org’s registration numbers have been dipping. Over the last three years, it’s dropped from a peak of 11.3 million to 10.6 million at the end of 2018.
But it’s also renegotiated its back-end contract with Afilias over that period, meaning it’s now paying millions less on technical running costs than it once was.
PIR also reiterates that, like many of its customers, it is also a non-profit that is not motivated by investors and share prices.
More than half of its profits go to fund the Internet Society, itself a non-profit organization.
“We are different. We are mission based and not every decision is a financial one; we are not just driven by the bottom line,” its statement says.
PIR says that registrants are also protected by the measure in all ICANN gTLD contracts that allows registrants to lock in prices for up to 10 years in the event of a price increase, and by the fact that .org operates in a competitive market.
Reasonable people can and do disagree on whether these are effective protections in a case like .org.

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Comments (4)

  1. Matt says:

    Ten years of renewals is a lot of upfront expenses for a domain investor with any sizable number of domains to incur. What domain owner is willing to tie up all that capital and renew ten years on advance just to lock in current prices? Talk about dead money. And PIR gets all that cash upfront, can invest it and earn interest on it, and make even more from these upfront payments we give to them. That’s a win for PIR and a loss for domain owners, point blank. PIR’s argument that domain owners can renew up to 10 years ahead of time in order to get current renewal rates is a red herring. Don’t be fooled!

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      It adds up if you have a large portfolio, true. But it only works out to about $100 per domain, which I imagine would be well within the reach of even small non-profits that use a single .org for their web sites.

      • Snoopy says:

        What happens after 10 years?
        For non profits (many of who do not have a lot of funding) trying to renew a long way ahead because of no price controls the writing is on the wall anyway in that tld. What does the local chess club do when they have 5k a year in income and get hit with a $200 domain name renewal in 10 years time?

  2. Snoopy says:

    Blind freddy can see they want to raise prices more than 10% a year. They just dug an even bigger hole to release that statement denying it.

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