Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

Group crowdfunding crypto to apply to ICANN for blockchain gTLD

Kevin Murphy, August 11, 2022, Domain Registries

Do we have our first confirmed blockchain-themed new gTLD application? Looks like it.

A group of pseudonymous individuals have announced plans to apply to ICANN for .dao in the next round, and are currently crowdfunding the project by asking for donations in the Ethereum cryptocurrency.

Going by the name DomainDAO, they say they’ve raised 230 ETH so far, which appears to be worth over $430,000 at today’s rates, already probably enough for a bare-bones new gTLD application.

They want to apply for .dao, an acronym for “decentralized autonomous organization”, a type of entity where token-owning participants set the direction of the DAO via rules laid down in software and votes encoded into a blockchain.

DomainDAO’s web site takes a few pops at the likes of Verisign and Identity Digital owner Ethos Capital for alleged unethical practices and says the goal is for .dao to one day “supersede” .com.

The concept differs from other blockchain-based TLD projects, such as Unstoppable Domains, in that it’s not alt-root. The plan is to apply to ICANN to get into the authoritative, consensus DNS root, so that .dao domains can be used by all.

Unstoppable already runs .dao in its own alt-root, selling domains for $20, and has recently proven litigious when it smells a collision from a competing project.

But the main roadblock to the root may well be ICANN itself.

While the rules governing the next round of gTLD applications are not yet set in stone, it strikes me as incredibly unlikely that ICANN will entertain a bid from an applicant that is not a recognized legal entity with a named board of directors that can be subjected to background screening.

DomainDAO is itself a DAO, and the DAO concept is reportedly prone to corruption and hacking, which could make ICANN nervous.

In addition, people funding DomainDAO today are offered crypto tokens that can be redeemed for second-level domains if the TLD eventually goes live — it’s essentially already selling pre-registrations — which could interfere with rights protection mechanisms, depending on implementation.

But DomainDAO claims to have an industry Greybeard on the payroll, a senior advisor going by the handle “Speech-less”, an “Executive with 20+ years experience in domain and ICANN”.

If that’s you, we probably already know each other. Why not get in touch to tell me why this thing is going to work?

5 Comments Tagged: , , , , , ,

Buyer “phasing out” domain “bought for $2.2 million”

Kevin Murphy, August 10, 2022, Domain Sales

The domain name coupons.com, which was acquired for a reported $2.2 million over two decades ago, is being phased out by its purchaser.

The dot-com-boom-era company, which changed its named from Coupons.com to Quotient Technology in 2015, has said in recent earnings calls and regulatory filings that it plans to deemphasize its old brand in favor of newer ones.

The company started out as a print-at-home discount coupons player, but in recent years has moved into digital as paper coupons fell out of fashion in favor of cash-back promotions and mobile apps.

Even in light of the current global inflation crisis, which one would expect would fuel demand for cheaper food and products, the company is struggling as retailers are also feeling the pinch.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week, Quotient said: “We are phasing out our use of the coupons.com domain, which we will replace with our Shopmium cash-back mobile app.”

The company acquired the domain in 2000.

Namebio reports the price as $2.2 million, which would have made it the third most-expensive domain ever at the time, though this was later disputed by CEO Steven Boal in a 2011 interview with podcaster Michael Cyger. Boal appeared to confirm it was a seven-figure deal, however.

Quotient’s SEC filings have for some years listed a $0.4 million domain on its balance sheet, but it’s not clear whether this is coupons.com or something else.

Comment Tagged: ,

ShortDot drops premium fees on millions of domains

Kevin Murphy, August 10, 2022, Domain Registries

New gTLD registry ShortDot says it is making 2.4 million “premium” domains available at its standard registry fee.

From September 1, domains across .bond, .cfd, .icu, .cyou and .sbs will no longer have premium renewals.

The company said that “first and last names, city names, dictionary terms, and more” will return to standard prices, but it appears that it’s the mainly lower-tier inventory, where retail prices can be currently as low as $15 a year, being released.

Judging by the list, it appears that the vast majority of domains are four-character LLLL strings and three, four and five-digit numerics (including US zip codes).

Some geographic names representing low-population areas are on the list, while larger, more well-known cities do not appear to be.

A full spreadsheet of the names can be downloaded from Dropbox here.

Comment Tagged: , , , , , ,

Tucows’ domains business stagnates again in Q2

Kevin Murphy, August 10, 2022, Domain Registrars

Tucows’ domain name business has experienced its third consecutive quarter of stagnating growth.

The company yesterday reported third-quarter total domains revenue of $61 million, compared to $62.3 million a year ago and $61.5 million in the second quarter.

Dave Woroch, CEO of Tucows Domains, described this 2% annual decline as “consistency” on a prerecorded address to analysts.

He pointed to Verisign’s recent comments about a decrease in .com registration volumes as evidence of an industry-wide post-pandemic slowdown, but was somewhat bullish on some new gTLDs.

“At the other end of the industry, we do see more robust growth in many of the new gTLDs that are of higher quality and that have little to no speculation or cyber crime opportunity,” he said.

The domains industry is “generally not showing a lot of growth”, he said, adding that “outsized growth would need to come from new areas”, which could include so-called “web3” efforts.

Woroch noted the recent funding of blockchain alt-root project Unstoppable Domains, but said Tucows is not a fan. Unstoppable has, like similar efforts dating back over 20 years, some “fatal flaws” and “a chicken and egg problem” of adoption, he said.

Domains under management at Tucows decreased to 24.8 million from 25 million sequentially and 25.6 million a year ago.

Tucows’ retail domains revenue was down to $8.5 million from $8.9 million a year ago, while the wholesale business, including value-added services, was down to $52.3 million from $53.4 million.

Including non-domains businesses, Tucows’ Q2 revenue was up 11% to $83.1 million and the net loss was $3.1 million compared with net income of $1.8 million a year ago.

Comment Tagged: , , , , ,

Malaysia relaxes travel restrictions ahead of ICANN 75

Kevin Murphy, August 9, 2022, Domain Policy

Malaysia has made it easier for foreign travelers to enter the country, which should take some of the headaches out of going to ICANN 75 next month.

According to local reports, the Malaysian government web site, and official UK travel advice, those entering Malaysia are no longer required to fill out a “travelers card” on the government’s contact-tracing app, MySejahtera.

It’s not clear whether MySejahtera is still mandatory for entry. The UK says you “may” be required to install it,

On-arrival tests have been scrapped, regardless of vaccination status, the Malaysian government said:

From 1st August 2022, all travellers are allowed to enter Malaysia regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status and do not require a pre-departure or on-arrival COVID-19 test. There are no quarantine orders related to COVID-19 enforced by the Malaysian Government upon arrival.

If you test positive for Covid-19 while in Malaysia, you’re still required by law to quarantine for four days (if you subsequently test negative) to seven days (regardless of the test result) at your own expense.

While the government rules may take some of the red tape out of entering the country, ICANN’s still has rules about entering the meeting venue.

To obtain entry to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, you’ll need to have proof of vaccination under the current version of ICANN’s health guidelines, which were last updated July 20.

Thanks to Richard Wein for the tip.

Comment Tagged: , , ,

GMO to sell Unstoppable’s crypto domains

Kevin Murphy, August 8, 2022, Domain Registrars

Japan’s largest domain seller, GMO, is to sell Unstoppable Domains’s blockchain-based addresses under a new brand.

The company, which owns the registrar Onamae, is launching a site called “CryptoName by GMO” at cryptoname.jp, where Unstoppable’s full portfolio of crytocurrency-themed extensions are on offer.

Unstoppable said it’s first traditional domain name registrar to offer the service.

The CryptoName web site contains an extensive FAQ explaining that the names are primarily designed to address crypto wallets rather than web sites, where they won’t resolve for the vast majority of internet users and won’t be indexed by search engines.

1 Comment Tagged: , , ,

More rules, but cozier ICANN 75 expected

Kevin Murphy, August 8, 2022, Domain Policy

There will be more rules to follow at ICANN 75 next month, but attendees might be able to expect a more intimate event, with less stringent seating restrictions.

The gathering, ICANN’s 2022 Annual General Meeting, will be held in Kuala Lumpur from September 17 to 22, the second pandemic-era meeting to have a face-to-face component, but in-person attendees need to register by September 14.

The new rules are largely a result of local laws, according to ICANN.

The first thing to note is that if you don’t have a smart-phone, you’re out of luck. Malaysia requires people entering the country to install a government Covid-control track-and-trace app called MySejahtera.

The law also says you have to wear masking indoors and self-isolate for four to seven days if you test positive. ICANN’s mandatory legal waiver makes the attendee responsible for associated costs.

But at the venue itself, ICANN is relaxing its session rules, saying it may halve the social-distancing requirement in half to a meter, which will allow more people into each room and could reduce the need for waiting lists and overflow rooms.

Many of the sessions at ICANN 74 in June were over-booked.

2 Comments Tagged: , , , ,

India offers dollar regs to celebrate independence

Kevin Murphy, August 8, 2022, Domain Registries

Indian ccTLD registry NIXI has announced a limited-time sub-$1 promo on new .in registrations — INR 75 in local currency — to celebrate the country’s imminent 75th anniversary of independence.

The organization says it has reduced its registry fee to INR 25, and registrars that signed up had to agree to an INR 75 retail price, which works out to about $0.95 for the first year.

The promo runs from August 5 to 22, overlapping with Independence Day, which in India in August 15.

The promo also covers India’s multitude of local-script IDN ccTLDs.

There’s no list of participating registrars on NIXI’s web site, and the availability check appears to be broken, but most of the larger international registrars I checked are not offering sub-$1 prices.

.in back-end GoDaddy is currently selling for a discount, but it’s about $4. Namecheap is selling for $0.95.

In an apparent deviation from earlier controversial policy, NIXI is stating: “There is no limitation on the number of domains which can be booked by a registrant.”

Comment Tagged: , ,

auDA updates on 2LD .au sales

Kevin Murphy, August 3, 2022, Domain Registries

Registrations of second-level domains in .au led to strong growth in the second quarter, according to auDA.

The number of 2LDs registered between the namespace opening up March 24 and the end of June was more than 170,000 the registry said in its latest quarterly report.

There were 218,886 newly registered names in the second quarter, which ended with 3,603,924 total names under management, auDA said.

From launch and for the next few months, all 2LDs are reserved for owners of the matching 3LDs in for example .com.au, so it seems adoption is still quite slow.

In .uk, which liberalized its own zone several years ago, there were 1,370,488 registered 2LDs, compared to 9,777,315 3LDs, at the end of July, registry stats show.

Comment Tagged: , ,

At $15 million, nfts.com becomes second-biggest domain sale ever

Kevin Murphy, August 3, 2022, Domain Sales

The domain nfts.com has sold for $15 million according to Escrow.com, which facilitated the sale.

The sale means the domain is the second most-expensive ever sold that we know about, beating the 2010 $13 million sex.com deal and trailing 2019’s sale of voice.com.

NFTs are of course “non-fungible tokens”, which something something crypto something something blockchain something something monkeys something something.

The deal was brokered by Domainer.com and GoDaddy, according to an Escrow.com press release.

The buyer has not been named, though he or she apparently has an association with NFT marketplace DigitalArtists.com, and no plans for developing the domain have been revealed.

Voice.com, which was acquired with $30 million of cryptocurrency profits, is currently being used to sell NFTs, though that was not the original plan.

1 Comment Tagged: , , ,