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First reactions to ICANN’s VI bombshell

Kevin Murphy, November 10, 2010, 17:32:07 (UTC), Domain Registries

Shortly before 8am UTC today, ICANN announced that it plans to blur the lines between domain name registries and registrars by eliminating cross-ownership restrictions and enabling vertical integration of the two functions.
The shock move is likely to have profound repercussions on the domain industry for years to come.
I’ve spent the last ten hours collating a bunch of early reaction from Twitter and the blogosphere.
Like blind men groping an elephant, everyone had their own take on the news, which perhaps indicates how broad-reaching its effects will be.
Linkfest coming up.
Apparently the first to notice the news, which came just before midnight in California, was AusRegistry, the Australian registry services company, with this pithy tweet:

Any Registrars wanting Registry software can enquire within…

The company later followed up with a blog post:

The positives of this resolution is that it is highly likely that we will see the adoption and growth of smaller more boutique TLDs being championed to market by their Registrar owners and for many industry participants, anything that promotes the success of the new gTLD program and the reduced risk of Registry failure can only be seen as a good thing.

As Europe woke up to the news, Michele Neylon of Irish registrar Blacknight decided to eschew diplomacy, and pondered the possible fallout from ICANN’s decision:

Now the next question is – what next?
How will people react?
Are we going to see a flood of nastygrams from Afilias and PIR being sent to the ICANN board demanding them to backtrack?

Across the pond, Minds + Machines CEO Antony Van Couvering quickly rattled off a typically eloquent blog post that focussed on what he seems to see as ICANN’s sudden spine growth:

This is the only principled decision the ICANN Board could have come to, and they deserve a lot of credit for doing it. By “principled,” I mean taking ICANN’s stated institutional principles and following them to their logical conclusion.

The new landscape will require everyone in the domain name business to re-examine their business, their partners, their strategy. It will have consequences between those I enumerated above. It will re-invigorate the industry, and it will help establish the respect that ICANN has lacked for so long.

Another new TLD applicant, Constanine Roussos of .music tweeted:

ICANN allows Vertical Integration for new top-level domains. .MUSIC is thrilled. #ICANN makes history. The lobbying effort was well worth it

Over in Japan, Jacob Williams of new TLD consultants UrbanBrain reflected some of the industry’s shock that ICANN went against many observers’ expectations.

This announcement is a full 180 degree turn from the verbiage in DAG 4 and the resolutions passed at the public meeting in Nairobi earlier this year. This decision comes huge surprise, but surely a relief to many New gTLD applicants.

On the policy side of things, veteran ICANN commentator Danny Younger expressed surprise of a different kind on his new ICANNology blog:

I’ve been wondering how an ICANN Board session that is “not designated as an Official Board Meeting” can result in official Board Resolutions.

If the meeting is specifically not designated as “special”, but rather as a board “retreat”, should official board resolutions be promulgated at the conclusion of such sessions?

Fellow policy wonk George Kirikos tweeted:

“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” applies to #ICANN’s latest moves.

Former ICANN staffer Kieren McCarthy tweeted, less ambiguously:

Good call #ICANN Board. Recognizing the realities of new top-level domains and standing up for principles over pressure

Finally, EnCirca, a US-based registrar, tried to pick winners and losers and concluded that it is the “.brand” TLDs that will gain the most, and that it is the registrars that are in for a shake-up.

the real winners will be the major brands on the internet: Apple, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Microsoft. Any one of these could launch their own TLD to rival dot-com.
Who are the biggest losers? The Registrar channel. Registrars will no longer be assured of being able to offer new TLD’s to their customers. Registries will start to bypass their registrar partners and deal directly with end-users.
Registries and registrars will need to start innovating to remain relevant. It is time to start competing.

As you might expect, there has been not much reaction yet from those, such as Go Daddy, which opposed full vertical integration.
But Warren Adelman, Go Daddy’s president, tweeted within the last hour:

Let the games begin


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Comments (6)

  1. Verisign should now be able to put up a DIRECT .COM Registration interface as PRE-ICANN circa 1997.
    Why go thru a Registrar ? for Hosting ? Advice ? etc. ?
    ISPs, webmasters, experts, etc. should be able to go DIRECT to Verisign for .COM and buy on wholesale terms.

  2. Louise says:

    Let us take a moment, and remember the fantastic letter composed by Neustar, Afilias, & PIR, submit by Alexa A. S. Raad, former CEO .ORG, The Public Interest Registry. In it is stated the practical concern blending the lines of vertical integration poses to registrants:
    One can also imagine the creative approaches that could be employed by an integrated entity, especially one that controls over 100 registrars, who can quickly run up the number of refunded or exempted registrations to make the excess deletes practice more interesting . . . These new forms of tasting would be more targeted and hence attractive to ensure ROI that exceeded any minimal remaining costs. Without separation, enforcement and compliance efforts can be severely hobbled.
    The Registrant Pays the Check

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Good link Louise. I’d forgotten about that. It does a pretty good job of setting out those companies’ positions.

  3. Raj Alla says:

    I thought this is useful to see different prospect. Experts, please help me answer the below questions.
    1. This decision is good because, now the registry owners don’t need to depend on the registrar to put registrar marketing dollar, resources and place it in the top in their list to SELL more domains.
    Now new TLD owners can build their own registrar (build new or buy an existing one) and sell more domains, pump more resources and makerketing dollars to be successful…This will get us lot of innovation because registries can spend more money in registrars…..
    Registrar :
    Small: No difference
    Big : They can build a successful new TLD by going thru their own channel like eNom.
    But current registrars have threat from registries to enter in to this registrar business…
    Q2: is this true?
    Q3: If Enom applies for a TLD, do you guys think
    other small registrars or godaddy does not want to sell that TLD?
    Domainer: They do the same as current …buy more names and make more money.

  4. […] First reactions to ICANN’s VI bombshell It was the biggest shake-up in the domain name industry in a decade – ICANN announced in November that it would start letting registrars and registries own each other. The full repercussions have yet to be felt, but this post summarized some of the early reactions. ICANN will not attend White House drugs meeting When and how governments and law enforcement should be able to block domain names is an ongoing hot topic for the industry. This September post broke the news that ICANN would not participate in US talks about blocking “fake pharmaceuticals” web sites. […]

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