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CentralNic buys a gTLD and a search engine for peanuts

Kevin Murphy, February 14, 2022, Domain Registries

CentralNic is on the acquisition trail again, picking up a new gTLD and an ancient search engine site for knock-down prices.

The company said today it has acquired .ruhr, as well as a German search site called Fireball, for a total of €600,000 ($678,000).

.ruhr is a geographic gTLD, currently restricted to German residents, covering the Ruhr valley region, a sprawling metropolitan area in the west of the country with multiple major cities including Dortmund and Essen.

The gTLD has about 10,000 registrations and serves about five million Ruhr inhabitants, CentralNic said.

The registry is currently Essen-based regiodot, which almost certainly spent more applying for the string, what with ICANN fees and consultants, than CentralNic is now paying for it.

While the string is geographic, it did not count as a geographic name under ICANN’s new gTLD rules and does not have a government sponsor. The deal will probably require ICANN approval, however.

CentralNic said operations of .ruhr will be brought in-house. It already runs the back-end for the similar geo .saarland.

German readers of a certain age may remember Fireball. It was quite popular there in the 1990s, but was one of the first wave of search engines to fade away with the rise of Google. It was once owned by Lycos, which gives you an idea of its vintage.

Nowadays, it’s a bare-bones site that uses Bing for its search results and appears to use Google for its advertising.

CentralNic said combined revenue for the two companies was €200,000 with EBITDA of €100,000, and that the deals will immediately boost its own results.

It said it expects its 2022 financial performance to come in ahead of what analysts currently expect and expects to provide an update at the end of the month when it reports its 2021 numbers.

You snooze, you lose new gTLD sunrise coming soon

Kevin Murphy, January 10, 2014, Domain Registries

Trademark attorneys and brand management executives take note: January 21 will see the launch of the first first-come, first-served sunrise period we’ve seen in a new TLD in a long time.
FCFS means that domain names will be allocated to participants immediately, rather than at the end of the sunrise period.
For those responsible for acquiring domain names for mark owners — many of whom are accustomed to waiting to the last minute before submitting sunrise applications — this is a change of pace.
You snooze, you lose.
To date only Regiodot’s German geographic gTLD, .ruhr, has officially confirmed (pdf) that it intends to use a FCFS policy during its mandatory sunrise period.
That’s due to kick off on January 21.
The precise time that the sunrise will begin — important when you’re looking at a FCFS policy — does not appear to have been published yet.
UPDATE: the time has been published (see comments below this post) and it’s 1000 UTC.
Under ICANN rules, to use FCFS registries need a “Start Date” sunrise, which runs for 30 days but requires a 30-day notice period before it begins. Regiodot told ICANN about its sunrise dates December 18.
The alternative “End Date” sunrises run for 60 days, have no notice period, and domains are only allocated to mark owners — usually using auctions to settle contention — after the 60 days are over.
Other than .ruhr, only PeopleBrowsr’s .ceo has said it wants to run a Start Date sunrise. However, PeopleBrowsr will not run its sunrise on a FCFS basis, preferring the end-date allocation/auction method instead.

German geo .ruhr enters the root

Kevin Murphy, December 11, 2013, Domain Registries

Verisign today delegated the new gTLD .ruhr to the DNS root zone, making it the 35th new gTLD to go live.
It’s a geographic string, meant for residents of the north-west German region of Ruhr, operated by Regiodot. is already resolving.
Regiodot is already taking pre-registrations via approximately 10 signed-up registrars, which all appear to operate in German-speaking countries.
The Ruhr (in German, it’s short for Ruhrgebiet) has over eight million inhabitants, according to Wikipedia, making the potential market for .ruhr larger than many European ccTLDs.

.pink and two other gTLDs get contracts

Kevin Murphy, October 3, 2013, Domain Registries

ICANN has signed Registry Agreements this week with three new gTLD applicants, covering the strings .wed, .ruhr and .pink.
I would characterize these strings as a generic, a geographic and a post-generic.
regiodot GmbH wants to use .ruhr as a geographic for the Ruhr region of western Germany while Atgron wants to providing marrying couples with .wed for their wedding-related web sites.
Afilias’ .pink belongs to that unusual category of applied-for gTLDs that I’m becoming increasingly interested in: the non-SEO generic.
The vast majority of generic, open gTLDs that have been applied for (mostly by domainer-driven portfolio applicants) in the current round are essentially “keyword” strings — stuff that’s very likely going to prove useful in search engine optimization.
I’m talking here about stuff like .music, .video, .football and .porn. These may prove popular with small business web site owners and domainers.
But there’s another category of generic gTLDs I believe have little SEO value but offer a certain quirky-cool branding opportunity that may prove attractive to regular, non-commercial registrants.
I’d put strings such as .ninja, .bom, .wow, .hot, .love and .pink into this category.
I’m very curious to see how these kinds of strings fare over the next few years, as I suspect we may see many more such applications in future gTLD rounds.