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GoDaddy reports strong domains growth

Kevin Murphy, February 14, 2024, Domain Registrars

GoDaddy reported its fourth-quarter financial results last night, including growth in primary and secondary market domain sales it described as strong.

The company reported Q4 net income up 1,132% at $1.13 billion, on revenue up 5.8% at $1.1 billion. Income was higher than revenue due to a tax fiddle worth about a billion dollars.

CEO Aman Bhutani told analysts that domains revenue growth in the quarter was up 4%, while domains bookings was up 7%. Aftermarket domain sales totaled $118 million, an increase of 14%, he said.

For the full year, GoDaddy had net income up 295% at $1.39 billion on revenue that grew 4% to $4.25 billion. The annual results were of course also affected by the same tax situation.

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.

GoDaddy service to let you block domains in over 650 TLDs

Kevin Murphy, December 11, 2023, Domain Services

GlobalBlock, a domain blocking service introduced to little fanfare by GoDaddy Registry and Identity Digital in June, is planning to launch next month with support from over 650 gTLDs and ccTLDs.

Built on the successes of GoDaddy’s AdultBlock and Identity Digital’s DPML, the new service was supposed to launch last week under the banner of the Brand Safety Alliance, but was delayed until January.

GlobalBlock enables trademark owners to pay one fee to block their marks across all participating TLDs, saving money on defensive registrations. Company names and celebrity names are also covered. A premium version, GlobalBlock+ also covers typos and IDN homographs.

It’s not just gTLD registries that have signed up. Nominet is participating, as is CoCCA. BSA is promising some pretty obscure ccTLDs will be part of the service.

In what appears to be a game-changing innovation, a feature of the service called Priority Autocatch seems set to stop cybersquatters and phishers from drop-catching domains that match strings protected by the block list.

Say you’re Facebook and you see some scumbag has registered facébook.ninja, if you’re subscribed to GlobalBlock+, the AutoCatch feature will see the domain removed from the available pool when it expires, rather than dropping so a second ne’er-do-well can register it.

GlobalBlock appears to be the reason no fewer than 35 registries covering over 300 gTLDs have recently asked ICANN for permission to launch a “Label Blocking Service” via the Registry Service Evaluation Process.

There’s money in blocking services. GoDaddy is making millions from AdultBlock. Some research I’ve been doing recently suggests some registries might be making more from blocks and defensive registrations than they are from regular domain sales.

For registries with small TLD portfolios, blocking services generally offer a poor value proposition. Services like DPML, which covers hundreds of TLDs, or AdultBlock, which covers all the porny ones, have been successful.

The BSA is offering brand owners a lot of carrots to get them to sign up early.

First, if you already have an AdultBlock or DPML subscription, your marks are already pre-validated. GoDaddy is also offering a 50% discount on AdultBlock until January 30; AdultBlock and DPML subscribers get 10% off GlobalBlock until April 30.

BSA says that pricing for GlobalBlock and the initial list of TLDs will be released in early January. Wholesale pricing will go up probably every six months as new TLDs are added, but customers will only pay the increased price upon renewal while benefiting from the added blocks.

General availability pricing begins February 15.

.blackfriday is still a bit rubbish

Kevin Murphy, November 27, 2023, Domain Registries

It’s Cyber Monday, so this post is 100% OFF the usual price!

A decade ago, Black Friday — the day after Thanks Giving, on which retailers in the US deeply discount products to drum up sales — wasn’t really a thing here in the UK, but now it’s everywhere.

Largely as a result of pressure from US-based online retailers, the concept of Black Friday has been gradually seeping into the public consciousness here, and elsewhere in the world, since the early 2010s, and as such, you might expect sales of .blackfriday domains to have grown in tandem.

But they haven’t. In fact, the .blackfriday gTLD, which has been available since mid-2014, still languishes unloved and untended.

The latest registry transaction report shows just 1,084 .blackfriday domains under management at the end of July, down from 1,127 a year earlier and 1,580 five years ago.

The TLD peaked in 2016 at 12,000 names at a time when the original registry, Uniregistry, held approximately 10,000 domains for itself that it subsequently dropped.

The most-recent zone files show under 1,000 .blackfriday domains with name servers.

Being owned by GoDaddy Registry since March 2022, after Uniregistry shuttered and sold off all its gTLD contracts, hasn’t helped matters.

Remarkably, you still can’t buy .blackfriday domains via GoDaddy — the retail registrar arm of the company has precisely zero .blackfriday domains under management and godaddy.blackfriday redirects to a godaddy.com storefront where .blackfriday domains are not available.

If Google juice is any indication of popularity, some of the highest-profile companies actually using .blackfriday domains appear to be losing their enthusiasm.

Just clicking on the first few dozen .blackfriday domains in a Google results page reveals several web sites that have not been updated for this year’s Black Friday, some not for years. One of them, holidays.blackfriday, is listed as a flagship tenant on GoDaddy’s registry web site, yet is still flogging deals for the European summer 2023 season.

GoDaddy domains revenue crosses half a billion

Kevin Murphy, November 3, 2023, Domain Registrars

GoDaddy sold more than half a billion dollars of domain names in the third quarter even as volumes slightly decreased, according to its latest earnings release.

The company had domains revenue of $508.2 million in Q3, compared to $494 million a year ago and $492.7 in the second quarter, according to regulatory filings. The aftermarket revenue component was down 2% at $107 million.

It had 84 million domains under management at the end of the quarter, compared to 84.2 million at the end of June. About three quarters of GoDaddy’s DUM are in gTLDs and about 60% are in .com, according to registry reports.

Overall, GoDaddy’s revenue was up 3.5% compared to a year ago at $1.07 billion. Net income was $131 million compared to $100 million a year ago.

The first four new gTLDs have been unmitigated disasters

Kevin Murphy, October 16, 2023, Domain Registries

“Arabic ‘Dot Shabaka’ goes online, ‘Dot Com’ era nearing end”.

That was a headline from a Turkish news site in February 2014 when the first Arabic gTLD — شبكة. — went to general availability, having been delegated to the DNS root October 23, 2013, 10 years ago next week.

It was one of the first four gTLDs to go live from ICANN’s 2012 new gTLD application round. At the time, the registry very kindly documented its launch on the pages of this very blog.

A decade on, شبكة. — which transliterates as “dot shabaka” — has just 670 registered domains, a 2015 peak of 2,093 names, and barely any active web sites of note. The registrar arm of the registry that runs it, GoDaddy, doesn’t even support it.

شبكة. is the Arabic for “.web”. The dot goes to the right because Arabic is read right-to-left. A full domain looks like this فيمأمنمنالألغام.شبك in your address bar but in the DNS, the TLD is represented by the Punycode .xn--ngbc5azd.

Given the Latin-script version of .web auctioned off for $135 million, and that there are 274 million Arabic speakers in the world, you might expect there to be a thirsty market for dot shabaka domains.

Nope.

It added about 2,000 domains in its first three months, crept up to 2,093 over the next two years, and has been on the decline pretty much consistently ever since. It has 40 accredited registrars, but only 21 of those have any domains under management.

Notably, GoDaddy has zero dot shabaka names under management, despite GoDaddy Registry being the official registry due to a string of consolidation ending with its acquisition of Neustar’s registry business over three years ago.

Its largest registrar is Dynadot, which seems to have a pretty responsive, intuitive storefront for non-Latin domain names.

Doing a site search on Google reveals the registry’s NIC site as the top hit — never a good sign — and a first page dominated by broken, misconfigured, and junk sites. An anti-landmine organization and a reputation management service are among the legit sites that show up.

One of the first-page results is actually in Japanese, a page declaring “ドメイン「المهوس.شبكة」は、日本語では、「オタク.ネット」という意味です。” or “The domain ‘المهوس.شبكة’ means ‘otaku.net’ in Japanese.” (per Google Translate).

It’s hardly a ringing endorsement of the demand for Arabic script names. If a reasonably priced, .com-competitive, god-tier gTLD such as “.web” is a backwater neglected even by its own registry, what does that say about any long-tail internationalized domain name gTLDs that might be applied for in the next ICANN application round?

We don’t have to wait until then to get a sense, however. Dot shabaka was one of four gTLDs delegated on the same October 2013 day, and the others haven’t fared much better. The other three were:

  • .xn--unup4y (.游戏) — means “.games” in Chinese. Operated by Identity Digital (formerly Donuts).
  • .xn--80aswg (.сайт) — means “.site” in several Cyrillic languages, including Russian. Operated by CORE Association.
  • .xn--80asehdb (.онлайн) — means “.online” in several Cyrillic languages, including Russian. Also operated by CORE Association.

You might expect .游戏 to do quite well. There are over a billion Chinese speakers in the world and gaming is a popular pastime in the country, but this TLD is doing even worse than dot shabaka.

While it was a day-one delegation, Identity Digital didn’t actually start selling .游戏 domains until early 2017, so it’s had a shorter amount of time to build up to the pitiful 318 domains recorded in the last registry transaction report. While its DUM number is lumpy over time, there’s an overall upward trend.

Compare to Latin-script .games (also Identity Digital) which had over 48,000 domains at the last count. Even comparing to premium-priced and XYZ-operated .game (Chinese isn’t big on plurals), which had 4,227 names, is unfavorable.

The two decade-old Cyrillic gTLDs aren’t doing much better, despite there being 255 million Russian-speakers in the world.

While .онлайн (“.online”) has a relatively decent 2,340 domains, the English version, run by Radix, has 2,732,653 domains. The Russian “.site” (.сайт) has just 829 domains, compared to Radix’s English version, which has 1,501,721.

The major Russia-based registrars, while they are understandably the biggest sellers of Cyrillic gTLD domains, are actually selling far more of their Latin-script, English-language equivalents.

Reg.ru, for example, has 99,716 .site domains under management, but just 249 in .сайт. It has 188,125 .online domains — where it is the fourth-largest registrar — but just 918 in .онлайн.

While there are certainly supply-side problems, such as the problem of Universal Acceptance, I suspect the abject failures of these four IDN gTLDs to gain traction over the last decade, despite their first-mover advantages, is based at least equally on a lack of demand.

ICANN has made UA — particularly with regards IDNs — one of its top priorities for the next new gTLD application round. Supporting a multilingual internet is one of the CEO’s goals for the current fiscal year.

But it had the same goals in the 2012 round too. The reason the first four to be delegated were IDNs was because IDN applicants, in act of what we’d probably call “virtue signalling” nowadays, were given priority in the lottery that decided the order in which they were processed.

Second time lucky?

Identity Digital is gobbling up Verisign’s back-end business

Verisign appears to be getting out of the new gTLD back-end registry services business, with Identity Digital taking over most of its dot-brand contracts.

Since 2018, over 80 gTLDs have moved from Verisign’s back-end to a competitor or have been removed from the DNS altogether. Over the same period, it hasn’t won any business from any of its rivals, according to data I’ve compiled.

Over the last few months about 30 new gTLDs have moved their technical back-end from Verisign to competitors, all but two to Identity Digital. Nominet and CIRA picked up a gTLD deal each.

Verisign tells me it’s not interested in providing new gTLD back-end services any more. A Verisign spokesperson said in an email:

In the case of the back-end services we provide to new gTLDs, we continually evaluate our business objectives and a few years ago, we decided that we would not be renewing our current new gTLD registry services customers and that we would help them transition before their contracts expired if they wished.

gTLDs moving home recently include .bosch, .crown, .chanel, .next, .nikon, .juniper and .fidelity.

Given the sheer number of gTLDs going to Identity Digital, it appears that there may be a side deal between the two registries to recommend migration to ID, but both companies declined to comment on that suggestion.

In 2012, Verisign had signed on to be the back-end for 220 new gTLDs, mostly dot-brands. Not all of those made it through the application process, but today my database has the company as RSP-of-record for fewer than 80 2012-round labels.

The company was said to be among the priciest option for dot-brands, trading on decades of .com uptime prestige, but the need for an RSP with 150 million domains under management is debatable when your gTLD is essentially just parked.

And for Verisign, the dot-brand business is not material to revenues and probably not especially profitable, at least when compared to the vast amounts of cash .com effortlessly generates.

In 2021, Verisign lost its deal to manage .tv to GoDaddy, after it declined to compete presumably due to the anticipated lower profit margins.

GoDaddy takes over .health

GoDaddy Registry has added .health to its growing stable of TLDs.

According to ICANN records, the company has taken over the contract from original registry DotHealth.

GoDaddy was already the back-end registry services provider for the gTLD, and as registrar is responsible for roughly half of the roughly 35,000 domains registered there.

Judging by ICANN documentation, GoDaddy has also acquired DotHealth.

Tucows and GoDaddy see weakness in big-ticket aftermarket sales

Two of the industry’s largest registrars saw weakness in their first-quarter revenues which they attributed largely to a lack of high-priced secondary market sales.

This lumpier and less-predictable side of the market saw Tucows overall domains revenue down 4% in the period, while GoDaddy saw its “core platform” revenue down a million bucks or 0.2%.

GoDaddy said a 5% increase in domains revenue was “offset by tough compares for our aftermarket business as well as the continued uneven flow of large transactions.”

Tucows said it has “experienced a weaker aftermarket for domain sales, most notably at the higher end of the price range”.

GoDaddy’s core services revenue was down to $698 million from $699.6 million a year ago. Overall revenue was $1.036 billion, up 3.3%. Its net income was down 30% at $47.4 million.

Tucows’ overall revenue was down 0.8% at $80.4 million, with a net loss of $19.1 million compared to a loss of $3 million a year ago.

.hiphop returns to GoDaddy after Uniregistry snub

The new gTLD .hiphop is back on GoDaddy’s storefront, more than six years after the company stopped carrying it in a controversy over prices.

Dot Hip Hop, which took over the registry from UNR (formerly Uniregistry) last year, announced the deal in a press release today.

The exposure should be good for the TLD, which has barely scraped together net growth of 400 domains since its relaunch with new drastically reduced pricing a year ago.

It currently has barely over 1,000 names in its zone file. It had about 650 this time last year.

GoDaddy is not nearly the cheapest place to grab a .hiphop, with its web site showing a retail price of $44, compared to about $25 at Namecheap and $35 at Hover.

.hiphop was on of 23 gTLDs managed by Uniregistry kicked out by GoDaddy in 2017 after Uniregistry massively increased its pricing without grandfathering on renewals.

A lot of those gTLDs are now owned by GoDaddy, after UNR sold off its portfolio two years ago. Ten that were acquired by XYZ.com do not appear to have returned to the leading registrar.

Most of the nine former UNR strings owned by newcomer and management successor Internet Naming Co also appear to be back on GoDaddy, apart from .forum, .hiv and .sexy.