News and Updates

CENTR Reports Decreased Growth in European ccTLDs

Domain industry news - Thu, 2020-01-23 21:12

According to the latest quarterly report from the Council of European National Top-Level Domain Registries (CENTR), the median growth in European ccTLDs during 2019 was recorded at 2.4% YOY, down from the 3.1% recorded at the same time in 2018. "Despite the low growth, other performance indicators such as delete and renewal ratios have been stable," CENTR adds. Other noteworthy highlights from the report:

Across Europe, country market share for local ccTLDs is 54% on average, based on registrants based in the country. For almost all countries, the local ccTLD is the largest by local registrations, generally followed by .com or .eu. Other ccTLD penetration indicators are domains per 100 capita at 6.1 and sites in the Alexa top 1000 which sits at 30

Market mover European ccTLDs over the past year were .uk (United Kingdom), .ie (Ireland) and .me (Montenegro), among others. The Irish ccTLD (.ie) has performed particularly well, having recorded high growth and an increased global Cisco rank.

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Categories: News and Updates

Dates Set for NamesCon Europe, DAN.com's New, Lease to Own Option, Dunn & Daniel Discuss Big Deals!

DN Journal - Thu, 2020-01-23 20:37
Several topics to cover in the Lowdown at DNJournal today. Dates have now been set for NamesCon Europe, DAN.com unveils a domain leasing option and Alan Dunn interviews Mark Daniel on the DomainStories podcast.
Categories: News and Updates

Killing 3G

Domain industry news - Thu, 2020-01-23 20:21

I have bad news for anybody still clinging to their flip phones. All of the big cellular carriers have announced plans to end 3G cellular service, and each has a different timeline in mind:

  • Verizon previously said they would stop supporting 3G at the end of 2019, but now says it will end service at the end of 2020.
  • AT&T has announced the end of 3G to be coming in early 2022.
  • Sprint and T-Mobile have not expressed a specific date but are both expected to stop 3G service sometime in 2020 or 2021.

The amount of usage on 3G networks is still significant. GSMA reported that at the end of 2018 that as many as 17% of US cellular customers still made 3G connections, which accounted for as much as 19% of all cellular connections.

The primary reason cited for ending 3G is that the technology is far less efficient than 4G. A 3G connection to a cell site chews up the same amount of frequency resources as a 4G connection yet delivers far less data to customers. The carriers are also anxious to free up mid-range spectrum for upcoming 5G deployment.

Opensignal measures actual speed performance for millions of cellular connections and recently reported the following statistics for the average 3G and 4G download speeds as of July 2019:

4G 20193G 2019AT&T22.5 Mbps3.3 MbpsSprint19.2 Mbps1.3 MbpsT-Mobile23.6 Mbps4.2 MbpsVerizon22.9 Mbps0.9 Mbps

The carriers have been hesitating on ending 3G because there are still significant numbers of rural cell sites that still don't offer 4G. The cellular carriers were counting on funding from the FCC's Mobility Fund Phase II to upgrade rural cell sites. However, that funding program got derailed and delayed when the FCC found there were massive errors in the data provided for distributing that fund. The big carriers were accused by many of rigging the data in a way to give more funding to themselves instead of to smaller rural cellular providers.

The FCC staff conducted significant testing of the reported speed and coverage data and released a report of their findings in December 2019. The testing showed that the carriers have significantly overreported 4G coverage and speeds across the country. This report is worth reading for anybody that needs to be convinced of the garbage data that has been used for the creation of FCC broadband maps. I wish the FCC Staff would put the same effort into investigating landline broadband data provided to the FCC. The FCC Staff recommended that the agency should release a formal Enforcement Advisory including 'a detailing of the penalties associated with carrier filings that violate federal law.'

The carriers are also hesitant to end 3G since a lot of customers still use the technology. Opensignal says there are several reasons for the continued use of 3G. First, 12.7% of users of 3G live in rural areas where 3G is the only cellular technology available. Opensignal says that 4.1% of 3G users still own old flip phones that are not capable of receiving 4G. The biggest category of 3G users are customers that own a 4G capable phone but still subscribe to a 3G data plan. AT&T is the largest provider of such plans and has not forced customers to upgrade to 4G plans.

The carriers need to upgrade rural cell sites to 4G before they can be allowed to cut 3G dead. In doing so, they need to migrate customers to 4G data plans and also notify customers who still use 3G-only flip phones that it's finally time to upgrade.

One aspect of the 3G issue that nobody is talking about is that AT&T says it is using fixed wireless connections to meet its CAF II buildout requirements. Since the CAF II areas include some of the most remote landline customers, it stands to reason that these are the same areas that are likely to still be served with 3G cell towers. AT&T can't deliver 10/1 Mbps or faster speeds using 3G technology. This makes me wonder what AT&T has been telling the FCC in terms of meeting their CAF II build-out requirements.

Written by Doug Dawson, President at CCG Consulting

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More under: Mobile Internet, Policy & Regulation, Telecom, Wireless

Categories: News and Updates

The Role of FttH in the Development of 5G

Domain industry news - Thu, 2020-01-23 19:35

As the rollout of fiber to the home project (FttH) remains a slow process, it is no wonder that more and more people are looking towards mobile as a potential alternative.

Obviously, mobile communication has improved over recent years in providing excellent access to broadband. It has also become more affordable. At the same time, there is the hype surrounding 5G, and the public relations and media machines of the vendors involved makes you believe that this will become a real competitor to the slow-moving FttH developments.

First of all, anybody who has started to use video-based media over mobile networks seriously — beyond Facebook, YouTube and so forth — will have noticed that you will very quickly run out of the download capacity that is included in your mobile phone package and any serious video use over mobile networks will quickly run into hundreds of dollars per month.

Secondly, 5G as a viable commercial mass-market alternative might be 10 and possibly even 15 years away.

For starters, there is still not a 5G standard, and this is essential for vendors to provide devices for mass markets in order to deliver an affordable device. Totally new handsets are needed to facilitate the multiple tiny antennas that are required for the device to operate over the high frequency necessary for 5G. No mass market will be achievable without a standard for such devices.

Secondly, 5G will require access to a fiber optic backbone in order to provide the affordable high-speed services that are talked about by the vendors and the mobile operators alike. Currently, in most Western economies, not much more than 50 percent of mobile towers are currently linked to fiber optic networks.

5G could require a hundred-fold increase in mobile base stations and most of them need to be linked to a fiber optic network.

For the service to deliver the promised quality to the end-users, a fiber optic connection to the 5G base station is needed within 100 meters of where the actual 5G users are located.

Furthermore, as soon as one starts talking about offices, public buildings, and cafes, the reality is that the fiber network will need to be brought into these buildings in order to provide a reliable service. 5G has significant problems penetrating walls, foliage, water, even people. So, in order to provide 5G services in these places, multiple 5G antennas are needed within rooms to enable access to mobile services.

When comparing wireless to fiber, it is also important to note that while wireless has a very limited capacity to carry lots of data over any distance, fiber can carry enormous amounts of data over tens of kilometers. So, from a network efficiency point of view, fiber-based infrastructure will always win over wireless.

Mobile infrastructure and fiber infrastructure are both essential. It is not a case of either/or. But in the end, mobile services will just provide local access linked to a fiber optic infrastructure. In other words, the majority of infrastructure needed to deliver 5G will be based on an FttH — or at least fiber to the curb (FttC) — infrastructure.

It is obvious that for these reasons, it is impossible for the industry to deliver mass-market 5G services within the short and even medium-term. A 10-year horizon for such a level of 5G penetration is far more realistic.

Surely, in relation to mobile broadband being an alternative to FttH — as is the case at the moment — mobile broadband will increase its position at the bottom end of the market, for those people with very basic broadband access requirements. At most, this might be enough for around 15% of the market.

However, the overall content requirements for "bandwidth-sucking" applications will continue in areas like entertainment, as well as in education, healthcare, business, smart cities, smart grids, smart buildings and so on.

FttH and FttC will potentially also benefit the development of 5G, depending on mobile operators being able to get affordable wholesale access to that network. It would be rather silly if the various mobile operators were also forced to bring their fibers to the curb in parallel with the fixed telcos in order to deliver 5G services.

So don't expect a rapid development of 5G services for the mass market. 5G will most likely be installed in pockets where there is a clear business case (for a premium service) and where there is plenty of fiber available to provide a fast and reliable service.

On the other hand, 5G could also be a catalyst for the development of wholesale based FttH and FttC networks. But chances are that regulations to enable national wholesale based fiber optic networks will not be swiftly forthcoming; some of the mobile operators will not wait for that and will extend their own fiber backbone. If the latter is the case, the economic viability of fixed telco based FttH networks will even further diminish.

Written by Paul Budde, Managing Director of Paul Budde Communication

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Mobile Internet, Telecom, Wireless

Categories: News and Updates

How much are domain names selling for in China?

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-01-23 19:25

Here’s a handy way to find out what domains are selling for in China.

From time to time, I get asked to look at a list of domains for advice on how much to sell them for in China. My reply is always the same: do your own research. One thing you can do is to look at similar domains being sold in China. So, today I’ll write about a website you can use to do your research.

eName is one of the Top 10 domain registrars in China and it also offers some content in English. Just visit eName.com and click the English button. From the Find Domains menu, select BIN. This gives you all domains listed with a price. From here, you can set up filters to find selling prices of specific types of domains you are interested in. Here are some examples of use.

Suppose you want to know the selling prices of 4 letter .com domains. Click the Category drop-down list and select “4-letter”, then click the Suffix drop-down list and select “.com”. Finally, click the Search button. When the search result appears, click the Cur Price heading to sort the prices from the lowest to the highest, and change “Each page shows” to 100 so that you can examine a significant size of the domains. If you want to know details of a domain, just click its name. Since some information is still available in Chinese, you can use Google Translate to get a rough idea of the content.

This is the result of the 4 letter  .com search that I see as of this writing: there are 41,714 domains listed with a price. The cheapest domain is UQTG.com at 550 yuan (about $80) and the cheapest 100 domains are priced at less than $150. Now you can compare your domain with the displayed domains and try to arrive at a price for your domain.

How about 7 number .com domains? From the Category list, select “Pure Number”, then enter 7 to 7 for the Length. The result shows that there are 6,574 domains listed with a price. The cheapest domain is 4177778.com at 75 yuan (about $11) and the cheapest 100 domains are priced at less than $45. Again, compare your domain with the displayed domains and try to arrive at a price for your domain.

You can look at many types of domains such as Pinyin, mixed characters, and Chinese IDN, as well as a variety of extensions such as .net, .org, and .club. So, be sure to spend some time and learn how to use the filters for your purpose.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

Related posts:
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  2. How big is China? Big.
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Categories: News and Updates

What you really need to know about the sale of .Org to private equity

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-01-23 18:40

Let’s cut through the clutter and falsehoods.

A lot has been said and written about Internet Society’s (ISOC) sale of Public Interest Registry, the group that runs .org, to Ethos Capital. Some of it is true, some of it is false, and some of it is up to interpretation. This goes both ways; ISOC and Ethos have some bad (or at least misleading) talking points, but much of the fuss on the internet is wrong or based on questionable data.

Here’s what you need to know.

The deal solidifies ISOC’s financial future

It’s hard to debate that this deal doesn’t make sense for ISOC, at least financially. It’s trading in an annual revenue stream for an endowment. As long as it has a reasonable way to invest that endowment, it should be able to generate steady cash flow going forward.

While the domain name business has been on a steady, mostly upward trajectory for .org, there is certainly risk that this could change in the future. I understand why ISOC views this as a good financial move for its organization. I’m sure it knew it would get some pushback, but it decided that the opportunity was too good to pass up.

PIR is not cash-strapped and and can easily reinvest in .org

One of ISOC’s and Ethos’ talking points is that, because PIR has to give its profits to ISOC, it is cash-strapped and can’t reinvest in the registry or new products and services.

There are two questions at play here: (1) is .org declining? and (2) is PIR cash-strapped?

First, let’s look at the so-called decline of .org. Advocates for the deal have argued that .org is declining, which appears to be true on a domains under management (DUM) basis. On NPR’s On Point this week, Ethos Chief Purpose Officer Nora Abusitta-Ouri said:

“If you look at the numbers, the sales of .org have been declining. The reason they have been declining is because, you know, PIR has not been able to, you know, invest in growing the business.”

This is misleading. The decline in domains under management is on purpose. Much of .org’s growth was from discounted, low-quality domain name registrations. In 2018, PIR shifted its strategy to focus on high-quality registrations and explained that top-line DUM numbers would decrease while profitability increased.

This leads to the claim of PIR being cash-strapped because it has to give all of its profits to ISOC.

First, it rarely hands over all of its profits. In 2017 it gave an extra gift to ISOC, but neither party has been struggling to keep the lights on.

Second, PIR has an easy mechanism for adding $10 million, $20 million or more to its bank account within a year or two: raise prices. If PIR needs money to reinvest in the registry or to create new products or services, it doesn’t need private equity backing. It just needs to raise prices a dollar or two.

It would be difficult for ICANN to stop this deal

Here’s what the contract between ICANN and Public Interest Registry for running .org says about a change of control:

“Except as set forth in this Section 7.5, neither party may assign any of its rights and obligations under this Agreement without the prior written approval of the other party, which approval will not be unreasonably withheld.”

So ICANN must give written approval for this transaction to proceed, but it can’t unreasonably withhold it.

What’s unreasonable? I’m not a lawyer, but I doubt, “I can’t believe our lawyers gave up so much in this contract, so we’re going to withhold consent” will work.

This section of the contract refers to ICANN verifying that the assignee has the financial wherewithal to run the registry and that its owners pass background checks. Certainly, if ICANN thought Ethos Capital didn’t have enough money or found out that its principles were crooks, it could reasonably withhold its approval. Beyond that, I doubt it.

If ICANN withholds its approval, we’d likely see a lawsuit. That might delay the deal, and if it’s delayed long enough, Ethos might reallocate capital elsewhere.

ICANN can’t just decide to transfer the .org contract to another party

The original ICANN Chairwoman Esther Dyson has teamed up with a couple of other people and organizations to form a cooperative that it says should run .org. It isn’t putting in a rival bid; it seems to be asking ICANN to just hand over the registry contract.

The only thing in the .org contract I see that refers to such a possibility is this:

…any consummated change of control shall not be voidable by ICANN; provided, however, that, if ICANN reasonably determines to withhold its consent to such transaction, ICANN may terminate this Agreement pursuant to Section 4.3(g)…

This says that ICANN can terminate the agreement if it withholds consent and PIR still goes through the change of control. That won’t happen. ISOC and Ethos won’t move forward with a deal until they get ICANN’s written approval.

It won’t cost PIR a lot more to run .org as a for-profit

The idea that PIR’s costs will go up seems to stem from a letter Packet Clearing House sent to ICANN. The letter suggests that for-profit companies are essentially subsidizing the operation of .org because it’s a non-profit. Afilias, the company that runs the technical aspects of .org, uses Packet Clearing House’s (PCH) services. PCH suggests that, as a for-profit, these other companies would stop subsidizing services to .org.

This is why you see some claims that it would cost PIR about $30 million a year for technical services to run the registry.

I emailed with PCH’s Bill Woodcock for clarification. He explained more of the thinking here, and I simply don’t buy it. There are plenty of capable registry providers that would charge less than the $18 million a year Afilias is charging Public Interest Registry. In fact, I suspect some bid less for the contract when Afilias retained it.

I predict that PIR will renegotiate its deal with Afilias or move to another provider as soon as it’s contractually able to because the fees paid to Afilias are PIR’s biggest line item.

Keep in mind that Ethos founder Erik Brooks is, or at least was, on top level domain company Donuts’ board. He led the deal for Abry Partners to acquire the company. It makes a lot of sense to strike a deal to combine these two entities, or to at least use the same technical registry.

I’d bet $1.135 billion that Ethos’ financial projections include cutting technical costs, and this should be easy to accomplish.

The idea of monetizing .org registry data seems overblown.

I don’t see this as a huge opportunity. I can’t imagine it’s a big, if any, part of Ethos’ investment thesis. I’m willing to listen to the other side, but they need to provide specific examples of how Ethos could (mis)use this data.

Censorship is certainly an issue, but it’s also overblown.

At play is a constant battle between intellectual property interests and internet libertarians. The former want every player in the internet ecosystem to take down websites. The latter don’t think any website should be taken down, at least not without a court order.

Admittedly, PIR has done some stuff to cause concern. But I think private equity backers will be more careful about these things than PIR has historically been.

Government censorship could be a more significant concern, though. We’ve seen many companies bow to Chinese requests in order to serve Chinese citizens. If China demands that .org engage in censorship in order to sell domains in China, would PIR operating as a for-profit bow to this pressure? Many domain registries have bent over backward to obtain Chinese approval to sell domains in the country.

And if you want to go down that path, an even bigger concern is if .org is sold to another (foreign) entity.

This would be a nightmare scenario, and it doesn’t seem like one that people are paying attention to. What if Ethos decides to sell out to Chinese investors, Russian investors tied to Putin, or a Saudi sovereign wealth fund?

That would be a huge deal. It wouldn’t just be partisan displeasure in Washington. .Org is a huge part of the internet’s infrastructure.

Which gets me thinking…is there anything in the contract between ICANN and PIR right now that would prevent a sale to foreign investors? It brings me back to how ICANN has fumbled its contracts for legacy TLDs. It has turned them into saleable assets rather than limited “stewardship” agreements.

For what it’s worth, I think .org’s next step will be to combine with Donuts and some other domain assets, followed by an IPO or packaged sale to another private equity firm. But if another investor comes along with deep pockets, Ethos would be tempted.

.Org prices will go up; it’s just a matter of how much

OK, let’s dig into pricing. Hold on tight.

First, Ethos has said that it won’t raise prices too much. 10% a year on average. Possibly. Maybe less.

Here’s what it wrote on KeyPointsAbout.org:

“…Ethos Capital has stated that it plans to live within the spirit of historic practice when it comes to .ORG pricing. This means, potentially, that any annual price increase could be no more than 10 percent on average — which today would equate to approximately $1 per year.”

There’s a semantics issue here. Saying it will live within “the spirit of the historic practice when it comes to .ORG pricing” is false if it equates this to 10% per year. The historic practice has been to not raise prices every year, and even then, not by 10%.

What I think Ethos means is that it will live within the spirit of the historic contract, not practice. That contract allowed PIR to raise prices up to 10% per year.

If Ethos raises prices 10% per year, .org prices will escalate much faster than under ISOC’s control.

I’ve read several reasons why Ethos won’t raise prices much even though PIR’s contract with ICANN has no price caps.

  1. “Ethos won’t raise .org prices much because people can easily switch domains” – this is the worst argument I’ve read. I’d encourage anyone making this argument to switch the domain their company uses for its website and email. Switching costs are high.
  2. “Ethos won’t raise .org prices much because it will kill the domain” – it depends on how much it raises prices. Sure, $5,000 overnight would kill the domain. But I think it could easily raise prices to $15 next year and $20 the next without losing many registrations. And on from there.
  3. “Ethos can’t raise prices too much because registrars would balk” – this argument might hold some water. While PIR has a monopoly on registrars when it comes to selling .org, registrars can push their customers to other domain extensions. Registries try to stay on registrars’ good sides. In fact, PIR paid Godaddy over $1 million in 2018 to promote .org to the registrar’s customers. If Ethos suddenly changed prices to $1,000 a year, this would be a bad customer experience for GoDaddy’s customers and the registrar could downplay .org on its site. It’s worth pointing out that .org has some market power, though, particularly for non-profits. And .com has full market power; registrars that downplayed .com would lose a lot of business.

I’ve also read claims that PIR could introduce variable pricing in which it charges some domain owners more to renew their domains. For example, they could tell NPR that it’s now $5,000 to renew the NPR.org.

This is contractually forbidden. PIR can introduce variable pricing, but it has to get the registrant’s agreement at the time of the initial registration. So we are likely to see variable pricing added for domains that expire and are re-registered, but if PIR wants to hold NPR’s domain for ransom, it has to hold everyone’s domain for ransom at the same price.

I’ll end the pricing discussion on this note: while Ethos can say it won’t raise prices over 10% a year on average, this isn’t in the contract with ICANN. Even if Ethos is true to its word, the next company to own .org won’t be held to that. Ethos could assuage these concerns by agreeing to have ICANN re-introduce the price cap in the contract. But it won’t do that; it would make the asset less valuable.

PIR’s employees are stuck in the middle

Lost in much of the discussion about ISOC selling PIR to Ethos is PIR itself. It’s kind of stuck in the middle. If I worked for a non-profit serving the greater good and then woke up one morning to find out I was working for a private equity firm, I would be disillusioned.

PIR has a good staff that does a good job. Hopefully, they don’t get the short end of the stick on this.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

Related posts:
  1. Ethos paid $1.135 billion for .Org
  2. ISOC chapter breaks ranks, criticizes deal to sell .Org
  3. Non-Commercial users ask for three changes to .Org contract
Categories: News and Updates

Media Bridge ad agency attempts reverse domain name hijacking

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-01-23 17:13

Ad agency files “egregious” cybersquatting claim.

Media Bridge Inc., which does business as Media Bridge Advertising, has been found to have attempted reverse domain name hijacking to get the domain MediaBridge.com.

The company filed the complaint against Mediabridge Infosystems Inc., which registered the domain name in 1994. The UDRP decision states that the Complainant claims rights dating to 2010.

It’s quite apparent that the domain name owner has rights or legitimate interests in the domain name, and that it couldn’t have registered it in bad faith in 1994 to target an as-yet-non-existent advertising agency.

The Respondent didn’t specifically ask for a finding of reverse domain name hijacking, but panelist Dennis Foster said that “given the egregious nature of this filing,” it should be addressed.

In this case, the Panel believes that it should have been obvious to Complainant that the first (and dominant) term of Respondent’s corporate name, “Mediabridge Infosystems, Inc.,” mirrored the disputed domain name, mediabridege.com (sic), and that the name had been registered by Respondent some sixteen yeas before Complainant was even created. Ergo, Complainant could never have hoped to prevail with respect to the last two elements required under the Policy, because Respondent most likely would have been commonly known as the disputed domain name to a relevant public and there was absolutely no basis to claim that the name was registered in bad faith…

…As a result, the Panel finds that the Complainant in initiating this proceeding has attempted reverse domain name hijacking.

Media Bridge, Inc. was represented by Alexander J. Farrell. The decision does not indicate that the Respondent was represented by counsel.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Categories: News and Updates

What domains Wegmans and others bought last week

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2020-01-23 14:01

A regional grocery chain, an apartment rental service and a men’s clothing brand bought domain names.

Wegmans grocery store chain led this week’s end user sales list at Sedo. The popular Northeastern U.S. grocer bought Meals2Go.com for its Meals 2GO app.

Here’s a look at some of the domains end users bought at Sedo this past week. See prior end user lists here.

Meals2Go.com $44,200 – The grocery chain Wegmans bought this catchy domain name. GrubHub owns MealsToGo.com.

Course.de €7,050 – Tutor Platform hosts online courses in a wide variety of subject matters such as languages, pre-med and more.

ASAPTravel.com $5,500 – Dyninno Group, an international development, lead generation and in-house IT company that focuses on travel, entertainment, and financial technology.

Coevo.com €4,000 – Forwards to Coevo.co.kr, the site for men’s clothing brand Coevo.

AST-International.com $3,895 – This company appears to have been formed last year, combining the assets of a couple of different companies. AST develops and manufactures sensors, switches and electronic assemblies for vehicle technology, white goods and industrial electronics.

Storyland.net €3,500 – Forwards to StorylandStudios.com, a master planning, design, and fabrication studio in California.

Cosana.com $3,000 – This domain was bought by Cosana Europe GmbH, a nutritional supplement company in Munich that also specializes in Manuka honey and related honey products.

Stayery.com $2,995 – Forwards to Stayery.de, an apartment rental reservation website for several locations in Germany including Berlin.

ScreenToMachine.com $2,888 – Planit Solutions, Inc., which provides software for woodworking machines. This might be a case of a company owning a domain, letting it expire, and then buying it back.

Mana.ch €2,200 – Website still in development for Swiss jewelry designers.

FamilyServ.org $2,149 – The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago bought this domain, presumably for a campaign or special project within that community.

StickerWinkel.nl €2,000 – Forwards to StickerKoning.nl, a sticker manufacturer in the Netherlands.

Softice.com $2,000 – This domain was bought by Newtec Engineering, a manufacturer of weighing, packaging, and sorting machinery.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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  3. 18 end user domain name sales
Categories: News and Updates

Results.com Rings the Six-Figure Bell to Top This Week's Domain Sales Chart

DN Journal - Thu, 2020-01-23 03:13
The new weekly domain sales report is out at DNJournal.com. One-word .coms remain hot with 3 of the top 4 spots going to that group.
Categories: News and Updates

Thoughts on Our NPR Interview About Ethos Capital's Acquisition of .ORG

Domain industry news - Wed, 2020-01-22 18:25

I was glad to join Meghna Chakrabarti on NPR this week for an engaging discussion about Ethos Capital's acquisition of Public Interest Registry (PIR) from the Internet Society, which you can listen to here. I always appreciate an opportunity to answer questions about .ORG, and was pleased to be joined by Andrew Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Internet Society, and Esther Dyson, founding chairwoman of ICANN from 1998 to 2000.

I have always respected Esther as an expert in domain name space, so I was surprised and disappointed to hear her compare for-profit ownership of .ORG to "slavery," saying, "I think it offends our sense of justice and rightness. ... You don't take a person and sell them. ... It's not the same as slavery, but it is in that same direction." [timestamp 10:39]

As with any healthy debate, reasonable minds can differ on the best path forward for .ORG, but this language was inappropriate and unnecessary.

I would also like to address what went unsaid by Esther — namely, that she is part of a group called the Cooperative Organization of ORG Registrants (CCOR) that has said it wants to take over operation of .ORG from PIR. While we respect the right of people to express a point of view on Ethos' investment in PIR, this group has no financial backing or experience running a registry business. No evidence has been presented as to how it could run .ORG better than PIR — or what it would invest in PIR to run a world-class registry and offer new services. This is in sharp contrast to what has been laid out as part of Ethos' commitments.

Investment Thesis

During our discussion on NPR (and many others), we have heard questions such as, "Why did Ethos pay so much for PIR?" and "What's in it for your investors?" I understand that this is where a lot of the fear about price increases comes from — at the heart of this, people are wondering why we would invest over $1 billion in PIR if we don't plan to profit by raising prices? As Erik Brooks, the Founder and CEO of Ethos, has stated previously, our investment thesis in buying PIR was very much driven by the stability and predictability of the company's current and historical performance. Like any business with stable revenues over time, the investment amount is one we're very comfortable with based on the current profitability of the business. When we first heard concerns on price constraints, it was easy to address them because we never had any plans for dramatic price increases.

Price Restrictions

Andrew made it clear that the removal of the price restrictions was not connected to the decision to sell PIR. As Andrew stated, various parties had expressed interest in acquiring PIR from the Internet Society before the price restrictions were removed. We have addressed these concerns directly: Ethos has committed to limiting any potential increase in the price of a .ORG domain registration to no more than 10% per year on average, even though today there are no regulatory pricing constraints on PIR or virtually any other domain name registry. At less than $10 today, .ORG is one of the most affordable domains in the world, and a 10% increase would equate to about $1. As such, .ORG will continue to be one of the most affordable domain names to use. As noted, without the transaction, PIR today could raise prices as much as it wished.

Ethos Investors

I was also asked about Ethos investors. First, I want to make it clear that as the majority stakeholder, Ethos Capital will control the board of PIR. As we previously stated on multiple occasions, we are committed to investing in PIR for the long haul. Our other investors include families and nonprofit organizations with long-term investment horizons. While we have been more transparent than any other registry transaction in the history of ICANN, this is a US-based private transaction in which investors and corporate directors have a right to privacy. The .ORG domain is indeed special — that is why are committed not only to keeping it that way, but also making it even stronger for the future. Today its proceeds power the Internet Society; tomorrow they can empower .ORG users.

History of For-Profit Ownership

One of the points that Esther made during our discussion is that a for-profit entity cannot and should not own .ORG. Contrary to the view that only a nonprofit can support another nonprofit, .ORG was formerly operated by a for-profit company (VeriSign). And nonprofits rely on for-profit businesses every day to achieve their online goals — from registrars to web designers, to Internet providers, to hosting services, and beyond. The Internet was built by for-profit companies with the resources and capabilities to innovate, and we want to make sure that the registrants of .ORG, like every other domain in the world, have the benefit of being served by a company with the ability, desire and resources to innovate and compete on a global scale.

As I hope I have made clear in my statements about this transaction, Ethos is a different kind of for-profit entity, one that believes doing "well" and doing "good" go hand in hand. Ethos was founded on the belief that prosperity should be built and shared, and that innovation has the power to fuel growth and success for all. The identity of .ORG as a domain "for good" is critically important to both PIR and Ethos, and we intend to do everything we can to protect and enhance this reputation.

* * *

Ethos has agreed to every offer for an open discussion on this transaction, and I look forward to more of these conversations in the coming weeks.

Written by Nora Abusitta-Ouri, Chief Purpose Officer at Ethos Capital

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Categories: News and Updates

Guest editorial: ISOC’s broken funding model and profligate spending

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2020-01-22 17:20

[Editor’s note: The following is a guest editorial from Nat Cohen, who provides interesting details about the birth of Public Interest Registry and its role with Internet Society. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of the conclusions, I think it’s a good contribution to current discussions about the sale of Public Interest Registry to Ethos Capital.]

The Internet Society (“ISOC”) generates tens of millions of dollars for itself each year through its control of the .org registry, Public Interest Registry (“PIR”), which makes money each time a .org domain name is registered or renewed.  Running .org has become so lucrative that PIR is now a target for acquisition by private equity firm Ethos Capital.  Much of ISOC’s revenue comes from nonprofit organizations[1] which predominantly use .org domain names.[2]  As a consequence, funds needed by those nonprofit organizations to pursue their own worthwhile missions are transferred to ISOC.  This raises the question as to whether ISOC’s control over .org serves the public benefit.

The way the nonprofit funding model usually works is that the nonprofit does good work and raises funds from contributors who voluntarily wish to support the mission of the nonprofit.  A nonprofit, such as Doctors Without Borders, must demonstrate that it is a good steward of donated funds in order to be able to attract continued contributions.

In contrast, ISOC uses its modest financial support of the Internet Engineering Task Force (“IETF”), where most of the actual work is carried out by “thousands of volunteers from around the world”,[3] to justify fat compensation packages for its own executives, while imposing a $70 million upcharge on its base of .org registrants, and enjoying control of a public resource valued at over a billion dollars.  The funds it extracts are not contributed voluntarily but come from compelled payments from those wishing to use .org domain names.[4]  It spends vast sums of money without needing to justify that the money is being put to a worthwhile or efficient purpose and with no accountability to discipline its spending.

ISOC’s Purpose and its Profligate Spending

ISOC’s primary mission is to support the modest funding needs of the IETF.[5] The IETF is an Internet standards body made up of thousands of people volunteering their time and effort[6] to accomplish the IETF’s goal of “making the Internet work better.”[7] The IETF conducts three meetings per year, runs mailing lists and publishes Internet standards documents.  ISOC contributed $3 million to the IETF in 2018,[8] yet most of that was merely passing along outside contributions earmarked[9] for the IETF.[10]

ISOC raised more than $70 million in 2018 from its control over the .org registry.  ISOC paid $18 million to Afilias[11] to do the work of actually operating the registry, paid $2.65 million in fees to ICANN, and yet charged .org registrants $93 million for the right to register or renew their .org domain names.

Where did the bulk of the $70 million go?

  • Nearly $7 million went to pay PIR staff and executives. PIR contracts with Afilias to do the actual work of running the .org registry; PIR handles marketing and registrar relations and it lobbies ICANN to look after ISOC’s interests.  PIR has ten key employees, including top executives, each compensated in excess of $200,000 per year.  The combined compensation for the CEO position[12] exceeded $770,000 in 2018.[13]   In contrast, Doctors Without Borders, whose size and scope of operations dwarfs that of PIR, paid its executive director less than $300,000 in 2018.[14]
  • ISOC pursues several vaguely defined initiatives:[15] [16] global engagement, such as removing impediments to Internet growth in developing countries ($9 million), communicating about what it does ($4 million), providing briefings on policy issues ($4 million),[17] reaching out to new stakeholders ($2 million), and elevating “identity” to a core issue and educating end-users to the importance of Internet security ($3 million).[18]
  • $17 million in compensation[19] was paid to a staff of over 100 people in 2018.[20]
  • $7 million was spent on travel and attending conferences.[21] [22]
The Controversial Award of .org to ISOC

How did we get into this situation? ISOC leveraged its role in partially funding the IETF to gain control of .org  with the help of its connections at ICANN.

In the early 2000s, ISOC faced “a looming financial crisis”[23] – it needed funds for itself.  Meanwhile, ICANN needed a new manager for .org.  ICANN put .org up for bid in 2002.[24]  ISOC was one of eleven bidders.  ISOC did not fare that well in the initial evaluation process.  ISOC received poor marks from the bid evaluators on the “good works” criterion, with its support for the IETF being its only saving grace:

“the Committee notes that although it has made no commitment to support ‘good works,’ profits from the registry will go to ISOC. On the arguable proposition that support for IAB/IETF standards processes constitutes ‘good works’ we awarded ISOC a ‘Low’ ranking in this category rather than a ‘None.’”[25]

The bid evaluators noted that ISOC’s public support came primarily from ISOC itself:

“The Internet Society demonstrated support for its proposal by mobilizing its own membership and chapters. With one late exception, the British Computer Society, it does not seem to have sought or received organizational endorsements from outside of ISOC.”[26]

Another bidder, Unity, ranked far higher in the evaluation performed by the nonprofit constituency than did ISOC’s bid, and received far broader support from the nonprofit community.[27]

ISOC, however, had influence at ICANN.  Many of the founders and early leadership of ICANN had ties to ISOC.  At the time the .org bid process was run, the ICANN Board included Vint Cerf, the former head of ISOC, as the Chair and another ISOC member as the Vice Chair.[28]  In addition, eight more ISOC members sat on the Board.[29]  The ICANN Board awarded .org to ISOC.[30] [31]

Commenters at the time decried the outcome as an “insider deal”.[32]  They recognized that ISOC was proposing a parasitic arrangement in which ISOC would bleed .org registrants to feed itself: the “ISOC proposal nakedly says it will take money from .org registrants to support ISOC”.[33]  ISOC’s relationship to .org was essentially rent extraction.  As Bret Fausett noted at the time in his ICANNWatch blog, “the idea that funds from .org registrants will be skimmed to support ISOC programs is not only bad policy but contrary to what the Board has previously expressed.”[34]

The Lull Before the Storm

ISOC’s early years in control of the .org registry imposed a fairly modest burden on .org registrants.  The price of .org domain names was fixed at $6.00 for the term of the 2003 agreement,[35] which retained the existing pricing.  In 2004, ISOC generated around $5 million in disposable funds,[36] from which ISOC contributed $1.25 million to the IETF, such that 25% of the funds at ISOC’s disposal reached the IETF.

As is often the case when ICANN renews registry agreements,[37] the terms that ICANN and ISOC negotiated in the 2006 renewal of the .org agreement resulted in more money for ICANN, more money for the registry, and an increased financial burden imposed on registrants without their meaningful participation in the decision and without any increase in benefit to them.  The 2006 .org agreement renewal introduced a fee surcharge for ICANN, and gave ISOC the ability to increase .org prices by an aggressive 10% per year.[38]  No safeguards were included in the agreement to ensure that the amount of money extracted from .org registrants corresponded to the funding needs of the IETF, nor did it couple prices to operational expenses, nor did ISOC need to provide any justification for raising .org prices.  The first 10% price increase took effect on November 9, 2008, when ISOC increased the price of .org domain names to $6.75 (including a $0.15 ICANN fee).  Prices stayed at this level for around two and a half years, until April 1, 2011, when ISOC raised the .org prices to $7.21.[39]

Things changed after 2011.  ISOC developed an appetite for extracting substantially more revenue from its control of .org.  ISOC raised .org prices in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016, when it reached the current level of $9.93 per year.  A combination of growth in .org registrations, sharply lower fees negotiated with Afilias for running the registry, and the leap in .org prices produced an ever-rising river of funds to ISOC.

By 2018, ISOC’s surcharge had grown to $75 million, a fifteen-fold increase over the $5 million level in 2004, while ISOC’s contribution to the IETF had somewhat more than doubled, to $3 million.  ISOC pocketed 25 times the amount it needed to fund the IETF and passed along around 4% to the IETF of what it took from .org registrants.

A Broken Funding Model

Awarding ISOC control of the .org registry as a means to raise funds for the IETF may have been done with good intentions, but after 18 years it is a funding model run amok.  A structure intended to deliver a few million dollars per year in funding to the IETF is now pulling in more than $70 million per year in excess funds.  The money flowing to PIR will grow rapidly even if annual price increases are limited to 10% per year.[40]  Ethos Capital has placed a (low end)[41] valuation of $1.135 billion on future cash flows from PIR.[42]  This valuation is a measure of the harm that ICANN is causing .org registrants as a consequence of the ISOC/PIR funding structure.  The good done in ensuring that a volunteer-run organization covers a small budget shortfall,[43] is dwarfed by the tens of millions of dollars of financial burden placed each year on .org registrants to accomplish this modest goal.

ISOC’s ability to overcharge .org registrants, through its control over PIR, is now dangerously unconstrained as a result of its perpetual control of the registry and the recent lifting of price caps.  It is this power to exploit .org registrants that has attracted Ethos Capital.  That a private equity firm finds operating a name space intended for nonprofits to be a compelling investment opportunity demonstrates that the resource is being grossly mismanaged.

While ISOC’s stated mission is to promote the Internet “for the benefit of all people throughout the world”,[44] much of the $70 million extracted by ISOC is skimmed from the charitable contributions intended for nonprofits working to address pressing global social needs – hunger, disease, climate change, homelessness, intolerance, the refugee crisis, among countless other worthwhile missions, as well as from the tithes and other donations made to religious institutions and local houses of worship.

ICANN should recall its own mission[45] and purpose and restructure how .org is managed

ICANN has a duty to act in the public interest.  Blocking the sale of PIR to Ethos Capital,[46] while necessary, is insufficient.  Ethos Capital’s interest in PIR is due to the underlying defects[47] in the .org registry agreement negotiated by ICANN.  ICANN took a stable, growing namespace and destabilized it by removing protections from registrants and making them vulnerable to financial exploitation by the registry.  Rejecting Ethos Capital’s purchase offer, without taking further steps, would merely perpetuate the current broken system in which ISOC extracts enormous sums from .org registrants and dissipates those funds to enrich its own executives with no public benefit commensurate to the resources consumed.

It is time to put an end to the financial exploitation of .org registrants.  If at all possible, it is time to end the PIR/ISOC funding model which has long outlived its usefulness.  Now is the time for ICANN to rethink the operation of .org so that, at long last, it represents and supports the nonprofit community rather than being parasitic upon it.

I’d like to express my gratitude to those who reviewed and provided feedback on this article.

[1] See here

[2] In the United States, at least, the majority of 501(c)(3) websites are on .org domain names.   See also.

[3] See here

[4] See here

[5] “In contemplation of the need for a mechanism for aggregating funding from many sources, it was proposed to form an Internet Society and to use its resources, in part, to provide funds in support of IETF.” See here.

[6] ISOC reports the involvement of 4,096 volunteers on its 2018 990, see pdf.

[7] See here

[8] See here

[9] See, for instance, “Mirjam Kuehne (RIPE NCC) said the RIRs contribute membership money into ISOC specifically earmarked to support IETF and wondered what will happen with that.”

(https://www.ripe.net/participate/ripe/wg/services/minutes/ripe-71-ripe-ncc-services-working-group-minutes)

[10] ISOC’s $3 million grant to the IETF was nearly offset by $2.6 million in outside contributions and grants received by ISOC, over and above the funds received through PIR, as reported on ISOC’s 2018 990, Part VIII, 1f.  These additional contributions are nearly sufficient to cover ISOC’s grant to IETF, even in the absence of any funds received as a result of PIR’s control of .org. See pdf.

[11] See here

[12] PIR transitioned to a new CEO in 2018, with a Director serving as interim CEO for several months.  The $770k figure represents the total salary and benefits provided to the former CEO and interim CEO in 2018.

[13] See here

[14] See pdf

[15] “ISOC has a reputation for being a bit of a hammer looking around for nails.” at https://medium.com/savedotorg/well-that-was-a-surprise-1d8d8d3d3dfa.

[16] Figures reported net out grants reportedly given to other organizations, so that expenses shown better reflect expenses incurred by ISOC itself.

[17] See pdf

[18] See here: The “stakeholder” and “identity” initiatives were broken out in the 2017 990 but are lumped together in a $14.6 million program in the 2018 990 (Part III, 4b) that also includes support for the IETF.  The 2017 figures are used here.

[19] See pdf

[20] See here

[21] See pdf

[22] See also Ayden Féderline’s detailed review of ISOC’s spending in this Twitter thread.

[23] See here

[24] See here

[25] See here

[26] Ibid

[27] Ibid

[28] See here

[29]Ten of the ICANN Directors are members of the Internet Society

[30] Reports at the time accused ICANN staff of reweighting the results, in effect “lying with statistics”, to enable ISOC to come out on top in the ICANN staff evaluation.

[31] ICANN’s General Counsel addressed allegations of conflict of interest in his report on the award.  He found no impropriety: “Directors are members of the Internet Society, but none of them would financially benefit in any way, directly or indirectly, from the selection of the Internet Society as the successor .org operator.”  He further found that ICANN’s conflict of interest policy “does not prohibit Directors from voting on matters merely because those matters involve a philanthropic society which the Directors may philosophically support”.  See here.

[32] See here

[33] See here

[34] Brett Fausett cited here.

[35] See here

[36] ISOC paid Afilias around $4.00 per domain name, generating about $5 million for itself on a growing base of 2 – 3 million .org domain names.  Disposable funds refers to the revenues ISOC receives in excess of what is required to pay Afilias for performing the technical functions of operating the .org registry and to pay fees imposed by ICANN for its own support.

[37] See here

[38] See here

[39] See pdf

[40] See here

[41] See here

[42] See here

[43] Or as little as $400,000, as much of the funding for the IETF comes from outside contributions earmarked for the IETF.  See footnote 9 above.

[44] See pdf

[45] “ICANN’s mission is in part to preserve the operational stability of the Internet. Eliminating price caps and endangering the online credibility of the global nonprofit community is not consistent with ICANN’s mission.”, ASAE comment on the proposed renewal of the .org registry agreement.

[46] See here.

[47] “In its attempt to justify this current proposal, ICANN is pushing the misguided rationale that registry operators of legacy gTLDs should effectively be treated as owners entitled to whatever fees they deem appropriate even though they did not create the legacy domain names they currently manage.”, ASAE comment on the proposed renewal of the .org registry agreement.  See also: PDF, comment, comment.

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Related posts:
  1. ISOC CEO repeats the registry competition fallacy
  2. ISOC chapter breaks ranks, criticizes deal to sell .Org
  3. Ethos paid $1.135 billion for .Org
Categories: News and Updates

How the Sale of .ORG Could Hurt Non-Profits IRL

Domain industry news - Wed, 2020-01-22 17:10

Private equity firm Ethos Capital's attempt to take control of .org, the Internet domain that's home to most of the world's non-profit and public-benefit organizations, has triggered an interesting crisis in Internet governance. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is the body responsible for regulating the global domain name industry. For the first time since oversight responsibility over ICANN was passed from the United States National Telecommunications and Information Administration to the global public (in the form of the Empowered Community) in 2016, that oversight function has been called into action.

Since Ethos Capital's announcement, critics have pointed out that non-governmental and non-profit organizations all over the world rely on the .org top-level domain, and that important decisions affecting .org must, therefore, be made with the consultation and partnership of that affected community, using the multistakeholder governance process upon which the Internet relies. So far, the community of .org domain holders has neither been notified of nor given a mechanism to participate in the decision-making process.

Although relatively little has been revealed regarding the details of Ethos Capital's proposal, and mainstream media coverage has been somewhat limited, the real-world consequences of the deal reach much further than the tiny alphabet soup of global internet governance bodies where much of the concern has so far been concentrated.

Many of .org's more than 10 million registrants use the domain for public-benefit and charitable purposes, including post-disaster public health first-response, security for marginalized groups in post-conflict zones, and public education for disadvantaged communities, among many other critical real-time functions, such as air traffic control. The .org name space was originally intended for non-profit organizations or organizations of a non-commercial character that did not meet the requirements for other generic top-level domains. While some for-profit businesses also use .org for charitable outreach, the domain largely serves as the foundation of non-profit organizations' online identity, from the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva to hyperlocal initiatives at the neighborhood level around the developing world. This vulnerable sector, already dependent on individual goodwill and cooperative endeavor, is now facing the fresh threat of .org's secretive acquisition by private equity.

The deal's primary beneficiary is the Internet Society, a non-profit founded in 1992 to promote the use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world. In 2002, when the Internet Society was first awarded the right to run .org, it set up the Public Internet Registry (PIR) as a non-profit to manage the domain, and the sinecure was renewed for an unprecedented ten-year period in June 2019. A few months later, in November, the acquisition by Ethos was announced.

"The acquisition was approved unanimously by both the Board of Directors of PIR and the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society," said a January 6 letter signed by Andrew Sullivan, President and CEO of the Internet Society, Jon Nevett, President and CEO of Public Interest Registry, and Erik Brooks, Founder and CEO of Ethos Capital.

Brooks is a former Managing Partner of another private equity firm Abry Partners which in September 2018 acquired Donuts, a domain name registrar with a wide portfolio of new generic top-level domains. In October 2018, former ICANN President of Global Domains Akram Atallah joined Donuts as CEO, while in December 2018 Donuts co-founder Nevett joined PIR as CEO. Other former ICANN staff members are involved in Ethos Capital itself. Former CEO Fadi Chehadé serves as an advisor, and former Senior Vice President, Development and Public Responsibility Programs Nora Abusitta-Ouri serves as Chief Purpose Officer.

PIR's recent announcement that it would abandon its non-profit status to become a B Corporation — a type of benefit company that operates as a non-profit organization, often with tax-exemption status — has left close observers questioning whether such a return to for-profit status will necessarily entail continued investment in technical stability, and sustained efforts to build a more accessible, inclusive and secure Internet around the world.

"The Internet Society and PIR believe that the sale to Ethos will enhance and support .org's continued growth and make the domain even more reliable and useful for non-profit organizations and other .org users," the January 6 letter stated.

It was published in response to a December 23 letter from six members of the U.S. Congress, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, a frontrunner in her party's primary polls for that country's 2020 presidential election. The lawmakers urged ICANN to block Ethos Capital from taking over the .org registry, arguing that the "takeover is not in the public interest."

In their January 6 response, Ethos and PIR state their intention to anchor PIR in a Public Benefit LLC structure that will enshrine the mission of PIR in the governing documents, to maintain PIR's historical practices on pricing, to form a Stewardship Council as an independent and transparent body that will serve as a resource for both PIR and .org registrants, and to preserve freedom of expression and uphold human rights more broadly.

The letter also assures that "all three parties — PIR, Ethos and the Internet Society — are dedicated to ensuring a smooth and seamless transition, and to continuing the mission-driven purpose of .org and PIR."

But their deal is already raising concerns about possible domain name registration price-rises. "Does Ethos have plans to increase the revenue from .org to obtain a higher ROI? If so, what are those plans, and how are they consistent with the interests of current and new .org registrants?" reads a question in one document recently published on the Electronic Frontier Foundation website, and transparently titled 'Questions ICANN Should Ask PIR.'

Since 2003, PIR charged its accredited registrars a capped price of $9.93 per year for each domain name, although the registrars themselves could set the retail charges to end users without restrictions. But in April, ICANN proposed an end to that price cap and effectively removed it in July, in spite of opposition. While seeking to assure registrants that Ethos Capital will continue PIR's goal of making .org accessible and that it would not hike prices unreasonably, PIR, Internet Society and Ethos Capital have explicitly pointed out that they do have the option to raise prices.

A joint January 7 statement said they are "committing to limit any potential increase in the price of a .org domain registration to no more than 10% per year on average, even though today there are no regulatory pricing constraints on PIR or virtually every other domain name registry."

Packet Clearing House (PCH), the non-profit that has operated the public-facing servers for .org for the past sixteen years, disclosed detailed insights into the actual relationship between registration prices, operational costs, and technical stability.

"The decreased operational spending necessary for any commercial purchaser to break even would result in an increase from zero down-time to, on average, slightly more than three days without service each year," a December 12 letter from PCH to ICANN General Counsel John Jeffrey said.

"Three days per year of interrupted communications for millions of not-for-profit organizations would unacceptably damage the stability and functionality of the Internet, and more broadly of society globally," it said.

"Please do not approve this or any other any transfer of control that cannot demonstrate the financial ability and commitment to maintain operational reliability of the .org domain," it concluded.

One alternative to Ethos Capital's bid emerged on January 9, when a group of Internet pioneers and philanthropists filed incorporation papers for the Cooperative Corporation of .ORG Registrants (also called CCOR) in California as a non-profit under cooperative corporation law. It is governed by an uncompensated board of seven directors, including Esther Dyson, who served as ICANN's first chair; Katherine Maher, CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation; Bevil Wooding, Chief Knowledge Officer of Congress WBN; and Bill Woodcock, Executive Director of PCH.

"Maximizing revenue is explicitly not a goal of the CCOR. Maximizing the security and stability of the Internet are explicit goals," the incorporation document states.

The Cooperative explicitly pledges support for the open Internet community. Organizations including the Internet Engineering Task Force and eligible root domain name system operators would receive the lesser of one-fourth of gross revenue or the maximum allowable under law.

The incorporation document also articulates CCOR's commitment to correctly handle data "to ensure that the privacy and other human rights of .org registrants, which include many organizations that handle sensitive health records, facilitate the freedom of the press, and provide platforms for anonymous political speech, are protected." It remains unclear whether ICANN will exercise its authority to halt the transfer and redelegate the .org domain. Certainly, CCOR's forthright agenda provides ICANN with the opportunity to treat the future of .org as a competition between proposals, and to step back, evaluate each, then select the best.

Whatever the immediate outcome, it is already clear that if the Empowered Community continues to be excluded from the decision-making process, several actors are willing to exploit other effective channels to voice their concerns. Which is why the upcoming ICANN community meeting in Cancun, Mexico in March promises to become an important forum for continued expressions of intense public opposition and debate, for directly affected constituents and other interested observers alike.

Written by Gerard Best, Development Journalist

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More under: Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, Registry Services

Categories: News and Updates

Western end users buy domains from China

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2020-01-22 16:40

China sucked up a lot of domains, and now Western end users are bringing some of them back.

China is known for buying domains from the west. Examples such as 360.com, JD.com, and OFO.com are readily found. It’s a trend we all know. However, isn’t it reasonable to expect the opposite to also occur after so many good domains have gone to China? Two recent transactions remind me of such a possibility.

In September last year, Chinese domain company 62.com reported that it facilitated the sale of MPT.com. The buyer is the American public company Medical Property Trust. The exact price was not disclosed but reportedly more than 7-figure yuan (more than $150,000). Medical Property Trust’s corporate domain is Medicalpropertiestrust.com so MPT.com is the perfect upgrade. The company also owns MPT.net. Currently, MPT.com redirects to Medicalpropertiestrust.com.

In November last year, Chinese domain company West.cn announced the sale of Viafintech.com from its marketplace. The buyer is Barzahlen Cash Payment Solutions GmbH in Germany. The domain was sold for 46,980 yuan (about $7,000). The fintech startup owns the Viafintech and Viacash brands. It also owns Via-fintech.com, so Viafintech.com is a nice upgrade. Currently, Viafintech.com redirects to Viacash.com. The seller was Lu Chen, located in China, according to the Whois record.

These two sales may be a sign of what is to come. If it does become a trend and we see end users in the west buying domains from China, is there any implication for domain investors? That will mean you can find good domains in China for sale to end users in the west. This further means that you need to spend time watching the Chinese domain market. Reading my articles as well as my daily posts on LinkedIn may help.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

Related posts:
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  2. What China giveth, China can taketh away
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Categories: News and Updates

DAN.com enhances domain financing options

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2020-01-22 14:20

Sellers can now let buyers pay over up to 60 months.

Dan.com launched an improved domain financing system today, allowing payments to be spread over up to 60 months.

Domain name sales platform Dan.com has upgraded its domain name financing options.

Previously, sellers could allow buyers to extend payments over 12 months. The new financing tool extends this to up to 60 months and adds a premium if buyers extend payments more than 12 months. The premium ranges from 10% to 30%. Half of that amount is shared with the seller and the other half goes to Dan.com for managing the payments and escrow.

Dan.com’s base charge remains 9%.

Sellers only have to list a buy now price and opt into the financing option. Dan.com calculates the rest. Sellers have an option to limit payment plan duration.

The minimum monthly payment under installment plans is $99, but the service hopes to reduce this in the future.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Categories: News and Updates

Domain Wars: .Org debate on NPR’s On Point

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2020-01-21 21:13

On Point hosts discussion about .org sale to Ethos Capital.

NPR’s On Point featured the .org debate this morning. Host Meghna Chakrabarti was joined by Esther Dyson, founding chairwoman of ICANN, Andrew Sullivan, CEO of Internet Society, and Nora Abussita-Ouri, chief purpose officer for Ethos Capital:

They didn’t really break new ground, but the point was to try to express their views to the general public.

Sullivan and Abussita-Ouri kept repeating the fallacy that PIR isn’t able to invest in .org because it has to give all of its profits to ISOC. (It could just raise prices a dollar or two and have plenty to invest.)

Abussita-Ouri also kept repeating that Ethos wouldn’t raise prices more than 10% per year, which she defined as the previous norm. That’s not quite true. While the old contract allowed price increases of up to 10% per year, Public Interest Registry rarely took advantage of this. So while it’s true that, assuming it sticks to its word, this could have happened under the old contract, it’s not “the historical practice.”

Dyson repeated the idea that the .org registry’s operations are being subsidized, and as a for-profit it would cost a lot more to run .org.  I think this is based on a Packet Clearing House analysis which doesn’t make much sense. When Public Interest Registry put the technical contract out for bid, it cut its cost nearly in half. And I can guarantee you Afilias wasn’t the low bidder. In fact, I suspect Ethos Capital’s financial plan includes a reduction in technical registry costs.

There was also that unfortunate point at which Dyson compared selling .org to slavery. Hey, live radio is hard.

Chakrabarti did a good job of pushing for answers, even if she didn’t get the answers she wanted. For example, she pushed Abussita-Ouri for what Ethos’ return on investment will be. She didn’t get the answer, although Abussita-Ouri did say the “public will know in due time.” (I don’t think that’s true; those finances will be kept private unless .org goes public.)

Chakrabarti also pushed back hard on the idea that it was just a coincidence that Ethos struck this deal immediately after the price cap on .org was removed.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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  2. Vint Cerf and Mike Godwin follow bad talking points for .Org deal
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Categories: News and Updates

PayStubs.net buys matching .com and other Uniregistry sales

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2020-01-21 20:43

A payroll service company bought the .com to match its .net.

PayStubs.net bought PayStubs.com.

If I were to take my pick of PayStub.com or PayStubs.com as a domain investor, I’d definitely pick the former. It can be used for many personal finance purposes. But if my business was just about creating pay stubs, it would be a different matter. It’s an exact match, product-defining domain name.

That’s the case with the buyer of this week’s top domain at Uniregistry. Here’s a look at the other sales at Uniregistry, including notes when I could figure out who bought them.

Here are the Top 20 sales that can be reported.

1. paystubs.com $68,750 – As best I can tell, the business acquired PayStubs.net within the last two years. It was listed on various platforms for about $2,000-$3,000. The buyer set up the website and then acquired the matching .com, which now forwards to PayStubs.net

2. loopy.com $15,000 – Mobile phone case company Loopy Cases. It forwards the domain to LoopyCases.com.

3. rockspring.com $8,625 – Texas real estate investment company Rockspring Capital forwards this domain to RockSpringCap.com.

4. countryboots.com $8,000

5. creativebeauty.com $6,000

6. magicphoto.com $5,200 – Someone in New York

7. nprc.com $5,000 – Northern Pennsylvania Regional College

8. themortgagestore.com $5,000

9. ufff.com $5,000

10. billetera.com $5,000

11. ganjagrow.com $4,200

12. fastfiber.com $4,000

13. hellogenie.com $4,000

14. racestorun.com $4,000

16. partshare.com $3,500 – Automotive Distribution Network

17. smokingjackets.com $3,250

18. gemmology.com $3,000 – The domain now forwards to LustreGemmology.com.

19. puebloweb.com $3,000

20. brandbiz.com $3,000

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Categories: News and Updates

Mike Sullivan Adds The Ultimate Domain Resource Guide to His 13-Year-Old Industry Blog

DN Journal - Tue, 2020-01-21 20:18
Mike Sullivan has been insightfully writing about this business since 2007 at SullysBlog.com. Now he has added an impressive resource guide to the popular site.
Categories: News and Updates

Live domain name auction on tap for Austin next week

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2020-01-21 18:24

Valuable domain names will be sold in live auction next week.

Right of the Dot is holding its annual live domain name auction in conjunction with NamesCon next week in Austin.

The auction starts at 4:30 pm on Thursday, January 30 at the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin.

In addition to live bidding, remote bidding is available through ProxyBid.

The auction list hasn’t been set yet, but pre-bidding is running on GoDaddy Auctions. On January 27th, the final list of domains will be selected based, in part, on pre-bidding activity. At that point, bidding will continue in the live auction.

Several domains have high bids in pre-bidding, although most of these have not met their reserves. Add.com has a $201,000 bid but the reserve is over $500,000. Illionois.com is at $102,000 with a reserve somewhere between that price at $500,000.

Names that have met their reserves include HRB.com at $18,550, MGV.com at $8,000, Med.org at $5,200 and 70a.com at $3,050.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Categories: News and Updates

How a 3 letter domain helped this business go global

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2020-01-21 15:54

This company’s Chinese name would not have worked globally.

I like 3 letter (3L) domains so I spend a lot of time in this space. I have a database of Chinese companies that could benefit from an upgrade to 3L domains. I also have a database of Chinese brands created from 3L domains that startups can use. One powerful feature of 3L domains that you may not know is that they can help Chinese companies go global.

Zhu Ba Jie (猪八戒) is a name familiar to every Chinese. In the classic novel “Journey to the West,” a Chinese monk travels to far off places filled with mystery and adventure. One of his companions is Zhubajie, a soft-hearted and optimistic pig who often gets into trouble.

In 2005, Zhumingyue (朱明跃) registered the 3-pin Zhubajie.com and started a marketplace to connect businesses with individuals offering professional services such as logo design, translation, and IT. Within a short time, his company has grown into a unicorn with 4,000 employees. Considered the largest crowdsourcing website in China, Zhubajie has expanded globally as well, with presence in Singapore.

While ZhuBaJie.com is an excellent choice for the domestic market, Mr. Zhu knew the brand/domain would be too long and difficult to remember outside China. Therefore, in 2016 he acquired the matching acronym domain ZBJ.com as the new corporate domain. As an added benefit, web traffic was reported to skyrocket after the upgrade.

In terms of branding, Mr. Zhu’s company is remembered as Zhubajie at the digital address of ZBJ.com. Outside China, his company is known as ZBJ.com or simply ZBJ. No rebranding was required in the process of going global. So, you can see the power of the 3L domain in this upgrade story.

Mr. Zhu registered Zhubajie.com not because of the classic Chinese novel, but because the domain was available and it also happens to start with his name. As it turned out, ZBJ.com has made Mr. Zhu’s own journey to the west easy. He also understands the power of domains, for he once said, “If you cannot get the company name as well as its domain, then don’t run your business (公司名、域名,拿不下就不要干了).” This shows the domain is as important as the company name.

© DomainNameWire.com 2019. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact editor (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Categories: News and Updates

Broadband and Presidential Politics

Domain industry news - Tue, 2020-01-21 15:48

For the first time in my memory, broadband has entered into U.S. presidential politics. This is an important milestone for rural broadband — not because of the proposals being made by candidates, but because it indicates that the voices of those without rural broadband have reached upward to the top of the political system.

I'm sure that when the presidential candidates go to rural areas, they are asked if they can help find a solution for the lack of broadband in many rural counties. For years I've heard from county Boards and Councils that broadband has bubbled up to the top of the list of issues in many rural counties. Rural residents are tired of having to make an extraordinary effort for their kids to do homework, tired of not being able to work from home, and tired of not being able to engage in things the rest of us take for granted.

Candidate proposals are big on rhetoric, but short on details. Some of the stated broadband policies are as follows:

  • The current administration is spending $16.4 billion this year for the largest federal broadband grant program ever. They are also spending $9 billion to expand rural cellular coverage.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders would provide $150 billion in grants and technical assistance for cities and municipalities to build publicly-owned fiber networks as part of a larger Green New Deal infrastructure initiative. That plan obviously extends far beyond a solution for rural broadband, and when cities are thrown into the mix, $150 billion is not going to bring fiber broadband everywhere. He further would regulate broadband as a utility and require that all ISPs offer a low-price 'basic internet plan' to make sure that the Internet is available to everybody.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed $85 billion for public broadband as part of a larger infrastructure plan.
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg has proposed an $80 billion Internet-for-All plan that would bring broadband to unserved communities.
  • Former Vice-president Joe Biden supports a $20 billion grant program for rural broadband.
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar proposes perhaps the most workable plan that would provide grants to service providers willing to serve rural America. She has likely based this plan on the successful Border-to-Border grant program in Minnesota.

All of these plans must be taken with a grain of salt because we know that many proposals made on the campaign trail are often forgotten by January after an election. We further have to be skeptical of presidential candidate promises for spending, because Presidents don't get to spend the big dollar amounts being thrown around — Congress holds those purse strings. It's possible that none of these candidates gets elected. It's also possible that one of them gets elected and still would be unable to make headway on the rural broadband issue. For example, there might still be a split House and Senate, making it a challenge to agree on spending priorities. The federal government might get pulled in other directions for a wide variety of reasons and never get around to the rural broadband issue.

As somebody who understands what it takes to run an ISP, some of these ideas scare me. For example, the idea of handing broadband networks to municipalities scares me because I know that the majority of local governments have zero interest in taking on that role. If this responsibility was thrust upon them, many of them would do a lousy job. Even should networks be handed to governments for free, many are ill-equipped or unwilling to administer and maintain a network. The idea that we could legislate the creation of well-run government-owned ISPs everywhere is not in touch with the realities of the expertise required to own and operate a network. On the flip side, I hate the idea of giving any money to big ISPs to provide better broadband. We've seen how poorly that can go in the CAF II program.

I also always cringe whenever I hear the idea of regulating broadband as a utility. I am not against the idea of regulation, but the chances are that the federal government and politicians would goof it up and would create an absolute disaster. Regulating something as complex as broadband is a complicated endeavor and would be hard to get right if done at the federal level — if done poorly, we could end up undoing the good than many ISPs have already done.

As an example of the challenge of regulating the industry, I can't think of any easy mechanism to somehow drag all of the existing communities, telcos, cable companies, and fiber overbuilders that provide broadband into a regulated regime. Most of the entities that have built fiber have already taken on significant debt to build fiber networks. Short of the government paying off their existing loans, it's hard to think how these companies could begin offering low regulated prices and still meet their existing debt obligations. I can easily list a hundred other issues that could go awry when regulating the industry. I am highly skeptical that Washington DC can figure out all of the nuances of how to do this the right way. I'm a lot more comfortable with the way we originally regulated telephone service — the federal government established broad policies and state regulatory bodies filled in the details.

I am just happy to see broadband being discussed during the election cycle. The same thing is happening at the state and local level, which is one of the main reasons that we've seen so many state broadband grant programs being formed. All of the lobbying being done by folks without broadband is finally seeing results — at least in promises being made by politicians. We just need to keep up the pressure until the political talk turns into broadband networks.

Written by Doug Dawson, President at CCG Consulting

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