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Cable company unplugs its dot-brand after acquisition

A Canadian telecommunications company is turning off its dot-brand gTLD after it was acquired and its brand was deprecated.

Shaw Cablesystems has told ICANN it no longer wants .shaw, so could the registry contract kindly be terminated.

The move follows the company’s $26 billion acquisition by rival Rogers Communications, which closed a year ago. Rogers has been winding down the Shaw branding for the last nine months.

But .shaw had never actually been used by Shaw, apart from the mandatory placeholder at, so it was likely circling the self-termination drain anyway even without the acquisition.

Rogers also has two dot-brands — .rogers and .fido — but while it has registered a few .rogers domains over the last six months none of them have any meaningful content or redirects as yet.

The .shaw gTLD was using Identity Digital as its back-end registry services provider, having originally signed up with Afilias.

Germany crosses 10,000 dot-brand domains milestone

The number of domains registered to Germany-based dot-brand registries crossed the 10,000 mark in the last few weeks, thanks to a handful of enthusiastic registrants.

That’s almost half of all the domains currently showing up in dot-brand zone files, which stands at just over 21,000, according to my database.

German companies have been the most-prolific users of dot-brands, with the financial services company Deutsche Vermögensberatung (DVAG) currently accounting for over 7,500 domains.

As well as having several corporate web sites on .dvag domains, DVAG gives out domains to its network of financial advisors, with each domain redirecting to a personalized, template-driven digital business card on

Car-maker Audi, part of Volkswagen, is the second-biggest user, with over 1,700 current .audi domains connecting its network of dealerships and many domains for individual car brands. Its dealers also get template-driven brochureware web sites, but there’s no redirect to a different TLD.

Fellow car-maker BMW and retailer Schwarz Gruppe, owner of the Lidl supermarket chain, are among the other dot-brands with hundreds of domains to their name.

.ai registry fights deadbeats with tweaked auction rules

Kevin Murphy, March 21, 2024, Domain Registries

With too many auction winners failing to hand over the loot, the .ai registry has changed its auction terms to make being a deadbeat more expensive.

The registry has increased its deposit requirement from 2% to 5% for bidders considered “high risk”, which basically means new customers, or $100, whichever is higher. The deposit is forfeit if the buyer fails to pay.

The move comes because too many winners are currently failing to pay. On Twitter, registry manager Vince Cate wrote yesterday:

On we have had too many cases of people not paying for domains they bid for so we are increasing the deposit requirement to 5% and the non-payment fee to 5% effective immediately.

The registry conducts monthly auctions of expired inventory on its own platform using software and is mirrored at Dynadot. The highest-interest names regularly attract five-figure bids, due to the increasing popularity of artificial intelligence.

Sometimes, the same names show up in consecutive auctions because the previous winner didn’t pay up. In January, for example, and, which had both attracted bids over $20,000, returned to auction.

.ai registry advises buyers not to use GoDaddy

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2024, Domain Registries

The manager of the increasingly popular .ai ccTLD has seemingly escalated his beef with GoDaddy, now advising registrants to not transfer their .ai domains to the market-leading registrar due to technical and operational issues.

The list of approved registrars on the .ai registry web site has contained a warning about problems transferring domains into GoDaddy for many months, but now it explicitly advises against such transfers. The site reads:

We have had several problems with transfers into GoDaddy. First, you have to use auth codes of 32 characters or less. Second they can take weeks and many email and phone calls to actually do the transfer. Anyplace else the transfer is nearly instant once the receiving party does the transfer with the auth code and the domain is unlocked. With GoDaddy the auth code is just the start of a long process. For years GoDaddy could not transer .ai domains at all. We do not advise transfering to go GoDaddy and if you do don’t ask us for help, the problem is all GoDaddy.

GoDaddy has also been removed from .ai’s list of supported registrars, but registry manager Vince Cate tells me he did this at the request of GoDaddy, which he said is a reseller of Team Internet’s 1API. He declined to comment further.

I asked GoDaddy for comment a few weeks ago but did not receive one.

An earlier version of Cate’s warning, from about a year ago as .ai domains started to fly off the shelf, read:

The company Godaddy will say “domains with this extension are not transferable” when someone tries to transfer a “.ai” domain to them when a more correct error message would be “Godaddy does not know how to transfer .ai domains even though it is done using the industry standard EPP transfer command”.

It was later updated to read:

The company Godaddy will say “domains with this extension are not transferable” when someone tries to transfer a “.ai” domain to them when a more correct error message would be “Godaddy does not know how to transfer .ai domains even though it is done using the industry standard EPP transfer command”. They will also say, “Technically .ai domains are not transferable between most registrars, but we have a dedicated team that transfers them manually.” This is so wrong. All other registrars have no trouble doing them automatically. The only technical failure is at Godaddy. Because of they way Godaddy is doing this, I get many people asking me, “Vince, why don’t you let people transfer .ai domains?”, as if I was doing something wrong and not Godaddy. I do let people transfer .ai domains. All of the above registrars can do it automatically without any trouble. Really.

While the .ai domain is managed by the Government of Anguilla, Cate seems to have substantial autonomy over the registry. Much of its bare-bones web site is written in the first person.

.post liberalizes with new sunrise period

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2024, Domain Registries

The .post gTLD has opened a brand-protection sunrise period 12 years after it first launched, after liberalizing its registration policies to allow private businesses to buy domains.

.post is a “sponsored” gTLD run by the Universal Postal Union, a UN agency, and so far the space has been restricted to national postal agencies which are individually vetted before their domains can go live.

But the policies have been updated to allow the likes of private shipping and logistics providers and post-related technology vendors to also register names.

Registrants will still have their credentials checked and published for opposition when applying to register names, so it’s not going to be a speculative free-for-all when .post eventually goes to “general availability” on May 1.

The sunrise period will run until April 15, with only trademark owners able to apply.

The operation is being run largely by EnCirca, which is the only accredited registrar apart from the registry itself. It had just 430 registered names at the last count.

The .post ICANN Registry Agreement is up for renewal this year.

Team Internet spends $41 million on content farm

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2024, Domain Registries

Team Internet is back in acquisition mode, saying this morning it has picked up an Israeli content farm business for $41.8 million.

It’s bought Shinez IO, based in Tel Aviv and Denver, for the initial sum plus a potential extra $12.3 million if the company meets certain financial targets over the next two years, the company said.

Shinez operates a network of lightweight blogs covering areas such as food and fashion, which are marketed via social media and monetized via multiple ad networks.

It’s a lucrative business — Team Internet says Shinez had revenue of $111 million, $17.2 million in net revenue, and $10.4 million of EBITDA in 2023.

The acquisition edges Team Internet, formerly CentralNic, ever closer to becoming a billion-dollar company. It now expects revenue for 2023 to work out at $948 million.

The deal also seems to mean reduced exposure to Google as the company’s number one ad revenue source. Team Internet said “this acquisition would more than double the Online Marketing segment’s revenue generated independently of our Tier 1 channel partner”.

.austin names launch on blockchain

Kevin Murphy, March 19, 2024, Domain Registries

A city gTLD launching exclusively on a blockchain alternative naming system? It’s happened, with the announcement of .austin at the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas.

The extension is already on sale at $10 a name via Unstoppable Domains, in partnership with the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce.

The organizations said the names will serve 2.4 million residents of the Austin area. The extension appears on the Polygon blockchain.

There are plenty of city name gTLDs in the regular DNS, but .austin is believed to be the first blockchain-exclusive (excluding perhaps Handshake, where there are no doubt a great many).

The GAACC claims, without citation, that .austin is “far more secure than the four US city traditional TLDs that exist so far”, which is probably true — domains that don’t resolve for most people can’t be as easily abused.

There’s no word in the Unstoppable or GAACC announcements whether the plan is to apply to ICANN for .austin in the proper DNS in 2026 and mirror the two namespaces, but GAACC will face some administrative hurdles if it wishes to do so.

Under the current draft of the next round’s Applicant Guidebook, applicants need formal endorsement from the local government when applying for “a city name, where the applicant declares that it intends to use the gTLD for purposes associated with the city name.”

If the City of Austin were to apply to ICANN separately, there would no doubt be friction.

Freenom shuts down 12.6 million domains — report

Kevin Murphy, March 18, 2024, Domain Registries

Dying free-domains registry Freenom has shut down at least 12.6 million domains across three of its TLDs, according to research from Netcraft.

Netcraft’s latest web server survey shows that the domains — across .tk, .cf and .gq — no longer resolve, according to the company.

That’s 98.7% of the resolving domains Freenom had a month earlier, Netcraft said.

Freenom, also known as OpenTLD, said in February that it was to exit the domains business entirely as part of its settlement with Facebook owner Meta, which had sued it for alleged cybersquatting.

It had already lost its ICANN registrar accreditation and its government contracts to run its portfolio of ccTLDs.

The company’s business model was to offer most domains for free and then monetize them when the registrations expired or were suspended for abuse. It attracted a lot of abusive registrants.

Interestingly, Netcraft notes that the deletions meant that Cloudflare saw a 22% drop in its total hosted domains (with Cloudflare acting as host, not registrar) over the month.

Microsoft moving its cloud apps from .com to .microsoft

Kevin Murphy, March 15, 2024, Domain Registries

Microsoft is planning to move all of its Microsoft 365 apps off a multitude of .com domains and consolidate them all under .microsoft, its dot-brand gTLD.

The company says it will move Teams, Outlook, and Microsoft 365 web apps to the domain. They currently use domains such as, and

It first announced the move in April last year and this week reminded developers of apps that use its cloud platform that they need to support the new domain.

Explaining the move to the dot-brand last year, the company wrote:

Consolidating authenticated user-facing Microsoft 365 experiences onto a single domain will benefit customers in several ways. For end users, it will streamline the overall experience by reducing sign-in prompts, redirects, and delays when navigating across apps. For admins, it will drastically reduce the complexity of the allow-lists required to help your tenant stay secure while enabling users to access the apps and services they need to do their work.

Microsoft plans to launch the domain in June but run the two domain schemes in parallel for a while, so as to not unnecessarily break apps in its developer ecosystem.

It’s not going to dump altogether, saying that it plans to use it for “non-product experiences such as marketing, support, and e-commerce.”

The domain is already one of the more visible dot-brand names out there, ranking in the top 20 most-visited, according to Majestic rankings.

Hat tip: The Register.

Cosmetics brand terminates its gTLD

Kevin Murphy, March 13, 2024, Domain Registries

Brazilian cosmetics maker Natura has become the latest new gTLD operator to tell ICANN to terminate its dot-brand contract.

The company said it is “no longer interested” in operating .natura, and ICANN has agreed to end the Registry Agreement.

Natura was not using the domain beyond the mandatory, but my records show that it did start experimenting with usage about five years ago.

A handful of domains, including, and were active and resolved to full-content web sites, but these were all shut off at the end of 2023.

The move comes at a time when Natura has been in a cost-cutting drive, divesting various assets and de-listing itself from the New York Stock Exchange.

The string “natura” is a dictionary word in some languages, meaning “nature” in Italian for example, so it could feasibly be applied for in future new gTLD program rounds.