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Secret new gTLD application revealed

Unstoppable Domains has revealed the next partner with which it intends to apply to ICANN for a new gTLD two years from now.

It’s linked up with Secret Network Foundation to apply for .secret and in the meantime to flog .secret names that only work on its Polygon blockchain naming system.

Secret is a startup that develops privacy-oriented, blockchain based applications.

It’s the sixth likely new gTLD application Unstoppable has announced this year.

D3 to get $5 million in crypto to apply for .ape gTLD

New gTLD consultancy D3 Global has inked a deal to apply for the .ape gTLD on behalf of the ApeCoin community.

The company said in a blog post that it will receive three million $APE — cryptocurrency coins currently worth about $5 million, according to Coinbase — in order to apply to ICANN for, operate and market .ape domains.

As it has with other clients, it will first launch *ape names that can only be used on the relevant blockchain to address crypto wallets and such. D3 uses an asterisk to differentiate blockchain names from real domains.

The deal came about after D3 submitted a proposal to the ApeCoin DAO. That’s a Decentralized Autonomous Organization that allows any ApeCoin holder to have a vote in the development of the ApeCoin ecosystem. They voted overwhelmingly in favor of D3’s proposal.

The DAO will receive 50% of gross revenue from *ape and .ape sales under the deal, but D3 says it will retain exclusive rights to .ape. Presumably this is because there’s no way in hell ICANN’s lawyers are going to allow it sign a registry contract with a DAO.

The business plan proposal is quite detailed for a public document, containing stuff like revenue projections that ICANN will redact from published gTLD applications. D3 reckons it could be turning over about $8 million with 90,000 registered .ape names by its fourth year.

“It’s simple, Ape Names are built by Apes, for Apes,” D3 said. As well as quite the most ludicrous quote I’ve used in a considerable while, it also happens to be Technically The Truth when said of any TLD, when you think about it.

But it’s actually a reference to the fact that a few of the D3 C-suite are owners of Bored Ape Yacht Club and Mutant Ape Yacht Club NFTs — those expensive little crypto chimp avatars that people sometimes use in their social media bios.

D3 CEO Fred Hsu apparently owns this ape picture, which is “worth” almost $37,000. Fellow co-founder Paul Stahura has a whole collection.

In other news, there’s still no cure for cancer.

New Vegas conference “Davos for Web3 interoperability”

Kevin Murphy, April 3, 2024, Domain Services

Specialist new gTLD consultancy D3 is to hold a two-day conference in Las Vegas at the end of the month it’s describing as the “Davos for Web3 interoperability”.

Imposingly named Dominion, it’s due to take place at the Cesar’s Palace hotel from April 29 to 30. The theme is the interoperability between the traditional domain name system and newer blockchain-based naming systems.

Organizers says it’s invite-only, and limited to about 125 attendees, but an invitation can be requested from the event’s web site.

Keynote speakers include Lily Liu (president of the Solana Foundation) and Fred Gregaard (CEO of the Cardano Foundation) on the blockchain side of things, and Matt Overman of Identity Digital on the domain name side, as well as D3 CEO Fred Hsu.

D3 specializes in arranging gTLD applications for blockchain firms and has five announced clients so far.

.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.

Freename tries to bridge DNS and blockchain

Kevin Murphy, February 26, 2024, Domain Tech

Swiss blockchain naming startup Freename has released a service it says it hopes will help make blockchain-based naming systems easier to integrate with the traditional DNS.

It’s called NOTO, and it has launched in closed beta this week.

Freename says NOTO crawls blockchain naming systems (currently its own Freename service, Ethereum Name Service, Handshake Name Service and Unstoppable) to compile lists of domains, and then making those lists of domains available to developers either via an API or downloadable zone files that look like regular zone files.

The idea seems to be that developers using traditional DNS can stay in their comfort zone and don’t have to do the work of figuring out complexities of the blockchain. It hopes makers of browsers, search engines, DNS resolution services and such will be able to more easily add “Web3” support to their software.

Freename also reckons there’s an intellectual property protection story, with trademark owners potentially more easily able to monitor blockchain naming services for abuse.

D3 signs up crypto gTLD client number five

Kevin Murphy, February 15, 2024, Domain Services

New gTLD consultancy D3 Global has signed up its fifth blockchain gTLD client since launching last September.

The company today announced a deal with Core Chain to apply for .core when ICANN next opens a new gTLD application window, currently expected mid-2026.

Core Chain makes a software platform for developers that want to building decentralized applications on blockchains. It says it has over five million connected cryptocurrency wallets.

D3 has recently announced similar partnerships with NEAR Foundation (.near), Gate.io (.gate), Viction (.vic) and Shiba Inu (.shib).

The company says its mission is to help blockchain companies operate on the traditional DNS as well as the blockchain-based alternate naming systems.

WebUnited inks deal to “mirror” country’s TLD in the blockchain

Kevin Murphy, February 12, 2024, Domain Registries

Blockchain domains startup WebUnited says it has signed up its first registry client to a service that allows domain names to be “mirrored” on a blockchain naming service.

The company has inked a deal with Global Domains International, the registry for Samoa’s .ws ccTLD (sometimes marketed as a generic for “web site”), that will let its registrars up-sell matching .ws names on the Polygon blockchain.

WebUnited, a Swiss-based joint venture of domain registry ShortDot and “Web3” naming player Freename, says registrants will be able to use their mirrored .ws names to address cryptocurrency wallets, for example.

The company essentially acts as a registry service provider for its registry clients in much the same way as regular RSPs do now, except instead of putting domains into EPP databases and the consensus DNS, it adds them to a blockchain.

Registrars that choose to sign up to the service will use an “EPP-like” API to access the registry, ShortDot COO Kevin Kopas said. He expects .ws to charge about five bucks a year for the blockchain add-on domains.

Kopas said WebUnited is also mirroring policies found in regular domain names, so if somebody loses their domain in a UDRP case, for example, they also lose their matching blockchain name.

After .ws, ShortDot’s own TLDs — .bond, .sbs, .icu, .cyou and .cfd — are also expected to offer the mirroring service. Because these are gTLDs governed by ICANN contracts, ShortDot first has to go through the Registry Service Evaluation Process for approval.

Kopas said that once ShortDot has completed its RSEP it will be able to supply gTLD clients with template language to get their own RSEPs approved. He said WebUnited has a pipeline of potential ccTLD and gTLD registries that have expressed an interest in the service.

GoDaddy offers free Ethereum blockchain integration

Kevin Murphy, February 5, 2024, Domain Registrars

GoDaddy has updated its domain management platform to allow users to add their Ethereum blockchain wallet addresses to their domains for free.

The registrar said it has partnered with Ethereum Name Service to offer the service, which will enable mutual customers to transact with ETH cryptocurrency using regular domain names instead of the massive gibberish strings crypto wallets usually use.

It’s free, due to ENS’s release last week of gasless DNSSEC, which links Ethereum to DNS by placing wallet addresses in the TXT records of domain names.

Before this update, ENS said the crypto transaction fees (“gas fees”) involved in validating domain ownership could reach as high as 0.5 ETH, which is over $1,100 at today’s prices.

The GoDaddy integration means the process of adding the TXT records has been simplified and can the accomplished in just a few clicks via the usual domain management interface.

Using ENS with your domain does require turning on DNSSEC, which adds some security benefits but also carries a downtime risk over the long term.

Shiba Inu outs itself as crypto new gTLD applicant

Kevin Murphy, December 19, 2023, Domain Registries

Shib, the developer behind the Shiba Inu cryptocurrency, said today that it plans to apply to ICANN for the .shib top-level domain.

The idea is to have the domain in the consensus DNS root and also in a blockchain and to make the two interoperable.

The company has partnered with D3 Global, the startup launched in September by industry veterans Fred Hsu, Paul Stahura and Shayan Rostam, to work on the application and interoperability platform.

Shib seems to be the second customer for D3. It’s also working with a blockchain company called Viction on .vic.

Perhaps erring on the side of responsibility, D3 is using an asterisk instead of a dot when offering names prior to ICANN approval, so it’s *shib and *vic instead of .shib and .vic.

The next ICANN application round is not expected to open until early-to-mid-2026.

Blockchain domain firm raises $2.5 million

Kevin Murphy, September 11, 2023, Domain Services

Switzerland-based startup Freename said it has secured $2.5 million in seed funding to pursue its ambitions in blockchain-based domain names.

The round was led by Sparkle Ventures with participation from Abalone Asset Management, Golden Record Ventures, Blockchain Founders Fund, and Sheikh Mayed Al Qasimi, a member of a UAE royal family.

Freename, which can be found at freename.io, says it enables pretty much anybody to register a TLD on a blockchain and then earn 50% of the reg fee whenever somebody registers a second-level domain in that TLD.

The “free” appears to mean as in speech, rather than as in beer. If I want to register .murphy, it will apparently set me back $4,099, meaning I’d have to sell over 1,600 2LDs at $5 a pop to make my money back. A gibberish string of characters will cost $79. Freename says it does not charge renewal fees.

It also seems to be reserving strings when they match a “brand, organization, or notable person”, weakening the case that blockchain offers
a liberating alternative to the centralized control inherent to the ICANN root.

Terms associated with some crimes also appear to be blocked, as are strings that match existing generic TLDs in the authoritative DNS.

The company says it has issued 5,000 TLDs on multiple blockchains since it launched last year, but of course users need to install a custom browser plug-in for any of them to actually resolve.

Freename says it hopes to help make these “Web3” domains compatible with traditional “Web2” DNS over time.