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April 19, 2016

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The Lowdown
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Here's the The Lowdown from DN Journal,
updated daily
to fill you in on the latest buzz going around the domain name industry. 

The Lowdown is compiled by DN Journal Editor & Publisher Ron Jackson.

DomainHoldings Reports Year End Surge - Q4 Sales Jump 40% from 3Q - Average Sales Price Nearly Doubles

Popular domain brokerage house DomainHoldings has announced their final results for 2015 - a year in which they booked over $21.7 million in sales. The best news is that they closed the year with a bang, seeing 4th quarter sales surge 40% from 3Q-2015 - reaching over $6.3 million - a $1.82 million jump from the previous quarter. The company's average sales price also soared from $57,500 in 3Q-2015 to $105,982 in 4Q-2015. 

In the closing quarter the United States and China continued to be DH's two largest markets, accounting for 86% of total sales. Sales to the Chinese market increased due to their intense  interest in short domain names, especially  those up to 3 numbers or 4 letters in length.

In 4Q-2015 .com continued to be their most popular extension (by several miles). .Coms made up 87.6% of sales. The other legacy TLDs - .net and .org - had 5% combined. Other gTLDs (including the hundreds of new extensions) combined for 6.7% of their market share.

The DH report also noted, "Flippa’s acquisition of Domain Holdings has allowed us to build a solid foundation for future growth. We have increased our sales through our continued dedication to our existing clients (buy requests), secured more inventory, generated new relationships, matured pipelines and launched new outbound marketing campaigns.  In addition, Domain Holdings has expanded our team in size, function and experience in 2015. Our increased head count has allowed us to expand our service offerings, helping us to fulfill the needs of our existing clients, as well as the demands of a constantly growing client base."

Senior Domain Broker Mark Daniel

In a related note, industry veteran Michelle Miller,  Flippa/DomainHoldings VP of Sales and Marketing, just published a very interesting profile of DH's Senior Domain Broker Mark Daniel who has been a star producer with the company ever since it was founded by John Ferber and Chad Folkening in 2010. Michelle's profile of Mark is of Cover Story quality (something she is very familiar with - over a decade ago, when Michelle was one of just a handful of woman in the domain business, she was featured in a DNJournal Cover Story herself).

It was great to see her give Daniel the attention he deserves. In her piece Michelle wrote, "Having worked with Mark for the last 8 months, I can attest that one of his best attributes is a tireless and selfless focus on his clients. He is always ensuring that the sellers and buyers he works with are happy, getting a fair deal and that the transaction and domain always remains the hero. It’s this approach that has made him one of the most successful and

respected brokers in the space. It’s also what has kept his success so low profile. I was instantly impressed with his unique approach and attitude. This is why I thought we’d turn the table for a moment and shine the spotlight on Mark." 

(Posted February 29, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Sedo Domain Village Will Put Domains in Front of a Huge Creative Crowd at 2016 SXSW Festival in Austin

When the massive 2016 South by Southwest (SXSW) Music, Film & Interactive Festival gets underway two weeks from now in Austin, Texas, Sedo is going to be there putting domains in front of close to 200,000 influential attendees from around the world. In fact, from March 12-17 the company will set up an entire Sedo Domain Village - complete with bars, food trucks, a photo studio and a tattoo parlor (visitors can even apply for a free tattoo at GetYourFree.Tattoo) plus special events designed to bridge the digital and analog worlds.

Sedo CMO Christian Voss

Sedo CMO Christian Voss told us, "In this creative-digital environment, our live domain experiences show perfectly how premium internet addresses can connect genuine, palpable and tangible daily life with the Internet, automatically and quite naturally. Visitors can get their morning coffee (and TLD branded donuts) on the way to the Convention Center in the Domain Village shop www.Coffee.Club and in the evening there will be live events at www.Sedo.live (where music.rocks!) as well as "German beer" at www.SedoBeer.bar."

Voss noted, "Every business needs a good, easy-to-remember name – online as well as offline – and with the 18 million internet addresses we have for sale, everyone can find the right domain name."

The Sedo.com Domain Village will be perfectly situated between Austin’s daytime and nighttime attractions - directly behind the Convention Center and Rainey Street (the SXSW party epicenter).

An artist's rendering of part of the Sedo Domain Village at SXSW

Sedo's free frozen yogurt truck, that was a big hit at last year's SXSW will also be back - along with another surefire crowd pleaser, TLD branded hot dogs.  Voss said, "We were happy with 8,000 visitors to our frozen yogurt truck in 2015. However, this year we are counting on up to 20,000 visitors between March 12th and 17th."

The Sedo yogurt truck at the 2015 SXSW Festival

The Sedo effort to put domains in front of the huge SXSW crowd  is being supported by many other industry companies including Uniregistry, Radix, Rightside, .club, .me, .top, .asia, .rest and .bar.

(Posted February 26, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

It Is a Lot Harder Than It Looks: Learn Before You Leap Into Domain Investing - New DNAcademy May Help 

Over the past 14 years I've seen a lot of people dive head first into the domain business without having any idea what they are doing - leading to them quickly running out of money and and making a beeline for the exit door. While buying and selling domains may look easy from the outside the truth is it is a very difficult craft to master

There is much more involved than a newcomer could ever imagine. I just wrote a foreword for an overseas  friend's upcoming book on domain investing that includes this line: "Don't be in a hurry to give your money away. There will be countless opportunities in this business tomorrow too, so educate yourself first...only then should you start investing in domains."

It is a process that can easily take a year or two to reach a reasonable level of competency and with the business constantly changing (including new gTLDs and new markets like China redefining what makes some domains  valuable almost overnight) you can't afford to ever stop learning. 

Almost everyone in this business today learned the ropes on their own by reading every resource they could find, looking for opportunities to 

Education image from Bigstock

network with experienced investors and old  fashioned (and often expensive) trial and error - learning from their mistakes and considering it part of the tuition fee.

DNAcademy Founder Michael Cyger

There's nothing wrong with continuing to do it yourself but some find the course too difficult to navigate on their own or, if they have the funds, would be happy to speed up the process by paying someone else to teach them - if they were qualified to do so. Industry veteran and DomainSherpa.com Founder Michael Cyger just launched what may be exactly what the latter group is looking for at DNAcademy.com. Cyger told me, "It's an accelerated learning course that I put together after collecting 5+ years of interviewing industry experts on DomainSherpa. I've been actively writing it for years

It "boils down" all the important aspects of domain name investing into one organized step-by-step course - without having to watch hundreds of hours of DomainSherpa content, make sense of it all, summarize the take-aways, and put it all in order. This is not a "get rich quick" course, but a fundamentals course to develop real investors who base decisions on data and process."

I spent some time poking around the DNAcademy site and was very impressed with what I saw - it is immediately obvious that a lot of thought and effort went into creating this treasure trove of text, graphics, video and interactive elements, including forums and groups that meet through 

video conferencing. When you log into the Course section you will find a huge menu along the right side of the page with dozens of articles under the various topic headings. For example when I looked (the list is continually being upated) there were six articles under Intro to Domain Names, seven under Keywords, 15 under Valuation Metrics, 11 under Valuation Tools - and on and on - on any topic you are likely to think of.

DNAcademy was attractive enough to convince Frank Schilling's Uniregistry to enroll several of their new employees to get them quickly up to speed. Some of Uniregistry's veteran team members are also contributing content for their own customized course. The site also got a nice endorsement from Australia's Financial Review today.

With respect to cost, DNAcademy offers two levels of service, each covering 12 months of access. The Basic level is $349 and the Pro level - that includes a private forum and Q&A webinars among its upgrades - is $499. Special pricing for teams is also available. The amount of useful, well organized and frequently updated information being offered at those prices looks very reasonable to me (it is on par with the cost of a ticket to a single domain conference). 

Of course, anyone can still take the DIY path - there are many great free resources on the web that allow you to do  that - but for those to whom time "time is money" I think DNAcademy will  prove to be a very welcome addition to the domain industry landscape.

(Posted February 25, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Escrow.com Introduces a New Transfer Option That Eliminates Risk of Domain Loss

If you have visited Escrow.com recently you have no doubt noticed the completely revamped website installed by the new owners, Freelancer.com, who acquired the company last year. In addition to the inviting new interface the  Escrow.com crew has been hard at work expanding backend capabilities, office hours and services. General Manager Jackson Elsegood sent me a note about the latest of those that was launched today - the Domain Name Concierge service.  

Escrow.com has long been the go to platform for thousands of buyers and sellers who wanted to secure their transactions. That was done by having buyers send their money to Escrow.com who held it until the seller delivered the domain. The system has safeguarded millions of dollars in sales but some clients wanted one more feature. In addition to having Escrow.com hold the money, they wanted them to hold the domain too. That would insure the seller followed through on their promise to deliver the name and the buyer could never claim the domain was not delivered.

The new service launched today fills that void by giving the parties to the sale the option of upgrading to the Concierge service and having Escrow.com handle both the funds and the 

Jackson Elsegood
General Manager

transfer of the domain to the buyer's registrar. In addition to beefing up security this also eliminates the need for an inspection period which can speed up the transaction.  Elsegood noted, "Many buyers and sellers have told us that they prefer the security of an independent third party completing the transfer of the domain on their behalf. We are glad we are now able to offer that service to our customers."

Escrow.com holds accounts with all major registrars and can receive domains via push or authorization code. Personal assistance with processing domain transfers to Escrow.com is also available over the phone and via email on business days from 8am to 11pm Pacific Standard Time. For more information on the Domain Concierge Service or to calculate the fee for a Domain Concierge transaction on Escrow.com, both buyers and sellers can visit https://www.escrow.com/services/domain-concierge.

(Posted February 23, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Major Management Move at Minds + Machines: Toby Hall Replaces Co-Founder Antony Van Couvering as CEO

Toby Hall
Minds+Machines CEO

Minds + Machines Group Ltd.,  (LSE:MMX), a public company that is one of the major players in the new gTLD space as owners and operators of a variety of new top level domains, has a new CEO. The company announced this morning that Co-Founder Antony Van Couvering was relieved of the CEO role at a Board of Directors meeting Friday (February 19), 2016). 

Toby Hall, who has been serving as the company's Chief Marketing Officer, has, subject to regulatory approvals, accepted an offer to take over as Chief Executive. Hall is to join the Board in that capacity at the first Board meeting after that approval has been received. A press release on the change said, "The Group is currently making the transition from asset gatherer to monetisation of its leading portfolio of top-level domains; the Board believes a change of leadership will assist in this process." In short, the company will focus less on adding more new gTLDs to their portfolio and more on generating revenue from the ones they already have. A key way they intend to do that is to build partnerships with other registrars to sell their TLDs, rather than rely primarily on their own registrar operation as Van Couvering preferred to do. 

Hall said, "We are operating in a sector of significant growth and opportunity. As a portfolio registry player, we are exceptionally 

well placed to reach into markets – both geographic and vertical – through a strategy of partnership. It is a strategy that will allow us to drive growth while maintaining a tight control on costs.”

In the wake of his dismissal, Van Couvering published an insightful article today at Circle ID (succinctly titled I Got Fired) that laid out the variety of strategies that are being employed by the many new gTLD operators. At this very early stage of the game there are a lot of different business models out there and varying opinions as to which is most likely to succeed. That kind of  difference of opinion between himself and the Minds + Machines board led to this parting of the ways.

Van Couvering has been one of the most visible and vocal proponents of new gTLDs since well before the ICANN program began. While his departure from the company he co-founded surprised many, it will be even more surprising if he doesn't soon re-surface in another key role in the new gTLD sector. There are still a lot of laps left in this race and it will be some time before we see which strategies prove to be the winning ones. 

Antony Van Couvering

(Posted February 22, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Chinese Buyers Breathe New Life Into Early .Com Alternatives: 16-Year-Old .WS Feeling the Love

It's no secret that Chinese buyers have given the domain market - both new registrations and aftermarket sales - a huge boost is recent months. Everything from top-tier short .coms to random four-letter acronyms and numeric domains to new extensions like .xyz, .top, .club and others have all benefited mightily from China's embrace of domains as long term assets. 

The list also includes a couple much older re-purposed ccTLDs that were the "new gTLDs" of their day - .WS (representing Samoa) and .CC (originally assigned to the Cocos and Keeling Islands). Nearly 20 years ago, entrepreneurs, wanting to carve out a share of the rapidly growing  Internet land rush, cut deals with the governing bodies in those countries to rebrand and market the TLDs globally as alternatives to .com.

For example, Alan Ezeir and Michael Starr of Global Domains International (GDI), who founded the new .WS in 2000, positioned their extension to mean "website". While those TLDs never made big waves in the aftermarket they piled up more than enough registrations to keep them quite profitable through the years. Now - thanks to China - they are doing better than ever. 

Ezeir said, "The rise of the Chinese Domain Market has been a thrill to watch. In December 2015 alone, thousands of .WS domain names were registered in China. The entire 4-number Chinese Premium .WS space sold out over a three day period in December. GDI has partnered with experienced industry leaders to help accommodate the .WS growth in China, and we are excited to announce new policy changes that will help meet this demand."

Alan Ezeir, Co-Founder & President
Global Domains International

"Our premium domain pricing for all 2 and 3 character .WS domains is changing. Beginning today (February 22, 2016), all new registrations of 2 and 3 character domains will be sold for a onetime premium rate which includes one year of registration. All renewals and transfers will be charged at the same rate as all other standard .WS domain registrations. This pricing change will be extended to all our registrars as well. So whether someone buys directly from us or one of our registrars, everyone will be able to take advantage of our new pricing."

In conjunction with that pricing change, today at 3pm (US Eastern time, 12 Noon Pacific, February 22) .WS is starting a series of exclusive Name Jet auctions featuring 22 two and three character .WS domains at no 

reserve. Those domains will have standard renewal prices. Ezeir noted their 1-3 character domains previously had yearly premium fees but that is no longer the case. Transfers also now work just like any other standard TLD (to and from any of the approximately 100 registrars that carry .ws). In the past .WS domains had to stay with the registrar originally used to purchase them.

In another recent changed, Ezeir added,"5-20 all-number .WS domains (5N-20N) had been held back at the Registry level since we launched the .WS top level domain. We made those domains available for registration for the first time on January 28, 2016 - all at standard domain pricing - and we are are seeing strong demand in our numerics, currently being registered in volume in the 5 number space."

There is a fascinating story about how Ezeir and Starr originally acquired the rights to .WS, an effort that started in the late 1990s. You can read all about that here.

(Posted February 22, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

The Door to .Store Opens in April - Radix's New TLD Gives Registry a Sweet Seat at the Ecommerce Table

.Store was one of the more heavily contested new TLDs with seven applicants in the chase for the ecommerce extension. Radix Registry ended up coming out of the private auction process with a nice addition to their portfolio that already included .site, .tech and .online among others. To get it they had to get through a gauntlet of deep pocketed  competitors including Uniregistry, Donuts, TLDH, Amazon and Google.

Today Radix announced the launch schedule for .store. It will begin with Sunrise (for trademark holders), April 6, 2016. An Early Access Phase will follow, then the extension will enter General Availability on June 14, 2016

Online store graphic from Bigstock

Sandeep Ramchandani
Radix VP & Business Head

Sandeep Ramchandani, VP & Business Head at Radix, said, "While the purpose for .store is specific to websites and platforms that offer products or services for sale online, the target market is global and highly diverse. We see a great fit for traditional mom and pop business as they make their way into selling online, as we do for modern start-ups with a commerce motive. The entire spectrum can look to find their ‘brandname.store’ which would be their perfect gateway to a dedicated web commerce site, or short URL to their internal commerce specific landing page. During the first few years, we see most demand coming from existing brands looking to use it as a short, clear and precise call-to-action in their marketing messages."

The Radix announcement noted "the trillion dollar ecommerce market grew a healthy 20.9% in 2015 vs. 2014. There are over 12 million e-commerce sites on the internet and over 650,000 that make at least $1,000 annually. Statistics also show that 40% of the more than 1 billion internet users worldwide have bought products or goods online and this number is projected to continuously grow." 

Radix plans to leverage its extensive Registrar channel that includes industry leaders like GoDaddy, 1&1, Namecheap, Domain.com, Tucows and Name.com to ensure the extension gets maximum visibility and reaches the customer at an attractive price point. Their launch announcement said, "As .store will be the first TLD to cater to the e-commerce market, Radix is geared to make the most of its first mover advantage and capture a strong market share."

(Posted February 18, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Heavy Hitters Converged in Seattle Last Week for Domain Name Association Summit

A lot of heavy hitters from both inside and outside of the domain industry got together in Seattle last week for The Domain Name Association's first Healthy Domains Initiative Summit.  The event - organized by the  industry trade association to  foster healthy growth within the domain name ecosystem - assembled  a diverse group of 77 representatives across multiple industries including registries, registrars, law enforcement agencies, civil society, child protection experts, illegal pharmacy authorities, and content providers. 

Some of the noteworthy attendees were the FBI, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.  The event's focus was to establish guidelines for industry-recommended best practices and measures for self-regulation.

Adrian Kinderis, VP Corporate Development at Neustar and Chairman of The DNA, said, "The DNA continually demonstrates creative innovation to support the importance and utility of 

Adrian Kinderis
Domain Name Association Chairman

domain names. This Healthy Domains Initiative is an important step forward to ensure we work collaboratively with our peers toward a more secure and stable Internet naming system." 

The agenda was developed with three founding principles in mind:

  • Establishing a network of industry partners focused on the creation and ongoing maintenance of a healthy domain ecosystem via effective communication and collaboration; 

  • Developing industry-focused policy guidelines, recommended best practices and success metrics that result in tangible ways of identifying and promoting positive standards for healthy domains; and,

  • Demonstrating to the regulatory community a positive example of self-governing.

The summit's discussion focused on domain name industry best practices principles and programs.  The group will now work to categorize and analyze the current landscape of online abuse to determine where the initial priorities should be focused.  In addition, working groups were formed to discuss a potential first set of recommended best practices programs that could be implemented.

The Director of GoDaddy's Digital Crimes Unit, Ben Butler, said "All summit attendees view the domain name system from unique perspectives. This diversity gives great insight when we're working toward a common goal. The group rolled up their sleeves with a collective focus on ensuring the namespace grows in a healthy way." Statton Hammock, Rightside Vice President, Business and Legal Affairs, added, "I applaud the efforts of The DNA and HDI for this proactive initiative and for their inclusive approach. It was a productive summit and we are encouraged by the positive direction this effort is taking."

(Posted February 16, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

.EU Lets New Frankcom Brokerage Advertise Their Listings in Registry's WhoIs Search Database 

When people are interested in buying a domain name the first thing many of them do is conduct a WhoIs Search to get contact information for the domain owner. Naturally, if a seller could place a high profile For Sale banner on the official registry's results page for searches 

involving their names, it could generate a lot of leads. In the summer of 2013, aftermarket giant Sedo was able to strike a deal with EURid (administrator of the .EU extension representing  the European Union), allowing them to do just that for names listed on the SedoMLS Premium Network

EURid has just opened the door for an additional brokerage portal to to show banners for their listings in WhoIs Search results as well. This time it is a new player in the field, Frankcom EU Service, an accredited registrar for .eu domains, that has launched a brokerage portal at  Find-Your-Domain.eu. A Frankom release about the agreement said it will allow them to promote thousands of high quality domains (many of them exclusively) that clients have listed with them.  

Frank Heilmann, the owner of Frankcom, said, "We are happy that it was possible to integrate
our domain brokerage services in the WhoIs database of Eurid from the first day of a listing going live. It makes it very easy for interested parties to inquire about a domain, if it is part of our domain
brokerage portfolio."

Example of a Frankcom For Sale banner showing up in a EURid WhoIs search involving one of the company's listings, SEC.eu. Interested parties can click on the banner to inquire about purchasing the domain.

Heilmann said, "After showing the interest in a domain through the contact form, Frankcom contacts the domain owner and acts as an agent between the interested party and the domain seller. The assistance provided begins with the first contact, goes on with the price negotiations and issue of the invoice and the final transfer of the domains once sold. Frankcom EU Service can also provide assistance in the case of domains not registered directly with us as a provider. An inquiry can be made with a special form in the brokerage portal.

(Posted February 15, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Valentine's Day Special from THE Domain Conference in Florida Offers Free Tickets for Spouses    

Sunday (February 14) is Valentine's Day and in the spirit of the holiday THE Domain Conference has come up with a special offer that will allow you to bring your spouse to their 2nd annual show in Florida next September at no extra charge. That's a tough one to pass up since a week on the beach is bound to make you a bigger hero in your Valentine's eyes than the usual box of chocolates!

Conference Co-Founder Howard Neu gave us the details on the offer that he is mailing out today. From now through Sunday (Feb. 14, 2016) you can pay for one ticket ($399 + tax) but get  

Hearts image from Bigstock

admission for two when you bring your spouse to the event that will run September 10-14  at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. The scenic hotel sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, making it a perfect place to combine business and pleasure with your loved one. 

THE Domain Conference Co-Founders Howard Neu, Barbara Neu and Ray Dillman Neu 
at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Neu family will be going into this year's show with the wind at their backs. Howard noted, "The positive buzz from those who attended THE Domain Conference 2015 has been overwhelming! The ambiance, the food, the networking, the content, the venue - just go to our website and read the testimonials. More business is done in four days than the rest of the year and rooms at the Hyatt are still only $109 per night with free wifi and no resort fee. The hotel is only 10 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and it has the biggest hotel campus in South Florida with the pool area and cabanas reserved solely for THE Domain Conference attendees. So go to our website and register today - and don’t forget to click on the Venue and reserve your rooms at the lowest price available."

(Posted February 10, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

.Movie Registry Donuts Strengthens Film Industry Relationship With New Anti-Piracy Agreement

If you were paying attention to the Super Bowl ads in Sunday's 50th edition of the big game, you saw a new gTLD featured in one of the spots seen by the 3rd largest audience in TV history. The URL in one of the world's brightest spotlights was GodsOfEgypt.movie, home of 

the official website for a major film that hits theaters February 26. The .movie extension, operated by the world's largest operator of new gTLD registries, Donuts, seems to be gaining excellent traction with Hollywood studios. It has been used for other major movies including the latest film in The Hunger Games series, Dirty Grandpa and Freeheld

Given that rapidly developing relationship it wasn't surprising to see Donuts and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) today jointly announce an agreement to help ensure that websites using domains registered with Donuts are not engaged in large-scale piracy.

Under the terms of the agreement, the MPAA will be treated as a “Trusted Notifier” for the purpose of reporting large-scale pirate websites that are registered in a domain extension operated by Donuts. The agreement imposes strict standards for such referrals, including that they be accompanied by clear evidence of pervasive copyright infringement and a representation that the MPAA has first attempted to contact the registrar and hosting provider for resolution.

The agreement specifies that Donuts will work with registrar partners to contact the website operator and seek additional evidence. If Donuts or its registrar partner determines that the website is engaged in illegal activity and thereby violates Donuts’ Acceptable Use and Anti-Abuse Policy, then they, in their discretion, may act within their already established authority to put the infringing domain on hold or suspend it. Overall, the new program is a voluntary best practice designed to help promote a healthier Internet by mitigating blatantly illegal online activity.

Jon Nevett
Donuts Co-Founder & Executive VP

Donuts Co-Founder and Executive Vice President Jon Nevett said, “This is a groundbreaking partnership and one we’re proud to undertake,” said . “Donuts, as the operator of .MOVIE, .THEATER, .COMPANY and almost 200 other domain extensions, is committed to a healthy domain name environment and this is another step toward a safe and secure namespace.”

Nevett added, "While this agreement is geared specifically to film and television piracy, it can also be adapted to address other illegal activity online. Hopefully, it will become a model for similar agreements that can be reached with operators in the domain name ecosystem and other Internet intermediaries.”

Former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, who now serves as Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, said "I want to thank Donuts for their leadership. This agreement demonstrates that the tech community and content creators can work together on voluntary initiatives to help 

ensure vibrant, legal digital marketplaces that benefit all members of the online ecosystem. Filmmakers and distributors are already using the Internet to offer more options than ever before for accessing online legal content, including over 115 such sites in the U.S. alone. But sites engaged in large-scale piracy threaten this continued growth and creativity, as well as the livelihoods of the 1.9 million Americans whose jobs depend on our industry.”

The announcement immediately precedes the first Healthy Domains Initiative summit tomorrow in Seattle, an event organized by The Domain Name Association, that will bring domain name industry leaders who are focused on issues such as this, including the safe and healthy evolution of the namespace.

(Posted February 9, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

ICANN Names a New President  & CEO - Sweden's Göran Marby Will Take Over in May  

ICANN has found the new President and CEO they have been searching for to succeed Fadi Chehadé who will leave those positions effective March 15, 2016 (Chehade announced his plans to step down in May of last year). Leadership of the domain name system's oversight body will pass to ran Marby, an experienced business executive and government leader in Sweden who will move from Stockholm to ICANN's Los Angeles headquarters when he begins work in May 2016 (Akram Atallah, President of ICANN's Global Domains Division, will serve as acting CEO during the two-month gap between when Chehade leaves and Marby arrives).

Dr. Stephen Crocker, Chair of the ICANN Board of Directors, said "I'm delighted to announce Göran as the new head of ICANN. His leadership experience as a technology CEO and start-up founder as well as his current experience as Director-General of the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) will be invaluable as ICANN moves towards the next chapter in its history. We conducted an extensive, global search and Göran impressed us all throughout with his shared values, operational experience and understanding of the Internet ecosystem. I'm looking forward to working with him and what I know will be his substantial contribution to ICANN and to helping ensure a stable, secure and unified global Internet."

Marby aid, "I am very excited to be joining ICANN and joining at the start of a new era for the organization and the community. While I know there is much for me to learn, I am eager to work with ICANN's multistakeholder 

Göran Marby will become President 
and CEO of ICANN
in May 2016.

community to continue all the good work that ICANN has been doing and am very committed to implementing thecommunity's decisions – both with respect to the IANA Stewardship Transition, but also in the myriad important areas of ICANN policy development as it fulfills its mission."

Marby has more than 20 years of experience in the Internet and technology sectors. Prior to joining PTS he co-founded AppGate Network Security AB, a security software company where he served as CEO between 2002 and 2009 with a focus on international customers and operations. He has held several other leadership roles in the Internet and technology sectors including as CEO of Cygate, a network services company, Country Manager for Cisco in Sweden and as CEO of Unisource Business Networks in Sweden. Marby holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Gothenburg School of Economics.

(Posted February 8, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Inside China Specialist Allegravita's New Partnership with Former ICANN CSO Kurt Pritz

On Thursday (Feb. 4, 2016) Allegravita, well-known strategic advisors to companies who want to do business in China, announced a new partnership with the highly regarded former Chief Strategy Officer at ICANN, Kurt Pritz, who during his time there was regarded as the "point man" for ICANN's ambitious new gTLD program. After leaving ICANN in 2012 Pritz remained in the industry as Executive Director of the Domain Name Association until he resigned from that post this past October.

Kurt Pritz speaking at the January 2015 NamesCon conference 
while serving as Executive Director of the Domain Name Association. 

I connected with both Pritz and Allegravita CEO and Co-Founder Simon Cousins to find out more about what the partnership would entail. Cousins said, "What we have with this partnership is a really unique melding of skills, knowledge and networks. Allegravita brings 13 years of deep comprehension of Chinese markets - sales channels and consumers, B2B, B2C and B2G - and a highly efficient approach to our client work that we call 'relentless delivery'. Kurt brings a long and distinguished career encompassing hundred-million dollar budgets at Disney, running the new gTLD program at ICANN (and testifying to Congress more than once), rarely-paralleled networks of key internet sector decision makers worldwide (very much including our home territory of China), and a calm, disciplined attorney's mind."

"Over the last couple of months that we and Kurt have been experimenting with special projects, we've tested our suspicion that our chemistry is really compatible. We have found it 

Allegravita CEO Simon Cousins
speaking at NamesCon 2015

to be better than we expected. End result is that the Allegravita team in China and the U.S. has loved working with Kurt; he knows every single exec and most of the managers in every one of our 15 (to date) domain registry retainer and project clients, and his contributions to the 2016 strategic planning process for several of our clients have already borne fruit."

Cousins added, "You probably won't see a whole lot of Allegravita and Kurt in the year ahead: this is because it is our habit to work in the background, ensuring our clients are winning and gaining the improved profiles and sales figures we're paid to help them with. A few times a year we're on public display, such as when we present our China Masterclasses and boot camps or are invited to comment on China business or regulatory conditions. But mostly we're working hard in the background, always for our clients' benefit. And that is what will distinguish our work in the Year of the Monkey and beyond, with Kurt in our partnership: our fantastic clients will continue to post record results in China and Chinese-speaking markets."

Pritz told us, "I am extremely honored that Simon,  Co-Founder and Head of Corporate Services Catherine Davis and the Allegravita team have welcomed me as an appropriate partner to help them develop their business in a way that continues to meet the needs of their growing client list. Much of Allegravita’s success to date can be attributed to their deep, talented and experienced team, which offers a set of highly valued and unique skills to assist entry into the Chinese business market."

"Due to a variety of economic circumstances,  domain names are of singular value in China as an investment and the coincident introduction of new TLDs means a great opportunity for both registry operators and registrants alike. Allegravita is the only firm with the contacts, local knowledge and business acumen to make the connections that enable domain name registries access to this huge developing market.  Success begets success and

demand for Allegravita services continue to grow because of the respect Simon and his team have engendered, not only in the industry, but throughout China. I am very excited to join the Allegravita team at this critical time."

In a related note, there is a lot of interesting information about Allegravita's work over the past year  that was published in a 2015 Review on the company's website earlier this week.

(Posted February 5, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Uniregistry Adds Industry Veterans Sam Tseng & Alan Crowe to Their Account Executive Team

Since Uniregistry launched their retail registrar  in 2014 (complementing the company's new gTLD registry operations) they have won many plaudits for the smooth, easy to use interface that fronts the technologically advanced platform. While "gee whiz" technology has been a hallmark of all of the company's offerings, the real root of their success goes back to the people they have hired to build their platforms and serve their customers.

If you have been in the industry for any length of time and look at a list of the team members that make their registry, registrar or aftermarket sales operations hum - you will see many names that have become very familiar because of excellent reputations they built before Uniregistry began. Since its founding, the company has been able to consistently bring  top performers on board and that was evident again today when the company announced Sam Tseng and Alan Crowe have been added to the registrar's team of Account Executives.

Tseng has been a major player in the traffic monetization space for 12 years now, having served as Director of Sales at DomainSponsor/Oversee.net before joining Uniregistry. Sam said, "I want to utilize my experience and knowledge in the domain name industry to carry forward the growth of Uniregistry and there are plenty of exciting opportunities to help clients grow their domain name portfolios." 

Uniregistry didn't have to go far to find Crowe. While he got his start with Go Daddy back in 2008 he had been a broker with Uniregistry's DomainNameSales.com aftermarket operation (soon to be re-christened Uniregistry Market) since 2012 when he became one of the company's original employees. Alan said, "I was able to see the birth of the registrar and now I get to be a part of that team. Working in a different division is interesting, but the vision is the same throughout the company. The vision is to be the very best registrar, the very best sales organization and the very best registry." 

Sam Tseng
Account Executive


Alan Crowe
Account Executive

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More Details About the Inaugural Domainers Meet Conference Scheduled for Dubai in April 2016 

Yesterday I told you a new domain conference - Domainers Meet - was being planned for Dubai in April - the first ever in the GCC  region (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman). I didn't have much information beyond the dates - April 23-24, 2016 but have since gotten more details from the organizers - known collectively as the World Domain Owners Assocation

For starters, the venue has now been identified. The show will be held at the highly rated Hotel Radisson Blu in Dubai. The organizers are expecting approximately 250 attendees at their debut show, the aim of which is to "wake up the GCC market to opportunities in the domain business." The background information I received said, "We believe Dubai, being the business hub of the Middle East and the city

that will host World Expo2020, it is the right place to begin. At  Domainers Meet we look forward to giving the audience content rich speeches that are simple enough for laymen to easily understand." 

Toward that end, they identified six topics to be addressed by featured speakers (some already selected with the full list to be announced soon), as well as a major panel discussion. Those are:

  • Domain Names Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow 

  • Domain Names Vs. Virtual Property

  • eBrand Development - Premium Super Power Brand 

  • Domain Name After Market Sales - How to mqke money, domain name valuation and leasing

  • Scope of eBusiness in GCC, Scope of eBusiness Management Institutions, Future Market

  • Security of Sites, Web Auditing and Intellectual Property Right 

  • Panel Discussion - Legality of Domain Names, Issues & Solutions.

We will continue to pass along  information on the agenda, speakers, registration and room fees as it becomes available. 

(Posted February 3, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Big Changes at Sedo Bring Promotions for Two Top Managers - Dima Beitzke Becomes Global CSO, Christian Voss Now CMO - New CFO Also Comes Onboard 

Domain industry giant Sedo announced some major structural changes to the company's management team this morning - changes that bring promotions to two well-known managers as well as a key addition to the leadership team. 

Dima Beitzke will assume management of both the North American and International sales teams as Chief Sales Officer (CSO) Global based in Sedo’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany. Dima joined Sedo in 2013 bringing with him a wide breadth of management experience in online marketing and sales which has enabled him to lead Sedo’s international expansion, further growing their sales distribution network into Asia as well as other emerging markets. Effective Friday (February 5, 2016), Solomon Amoako will be stepping down from his position as North American CSO due to personal family reasons.

Sedo’s focus on strengthening its marketing initiatives both inside and outside the domain industry will be further supported by the promotion of Christian Voss to Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Voss joined Sedo in 2013 as Director Marketing & PR, increasing the international awareness for the domain name market successfully ever since. In his role he will expand activities in both offices, Boston and Cologne

In addition to the adjustments within the Sedo sales and marketing teams, Barbara Stolz will take over the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) position from Torsten Hauschildt who will be returning to Sedo parent  United Internet Ventures as Senior VP of Finance and M&A. Sedo's announcement noted, "Stolz has profound know-how in shaping high-functioning financial organizations; before joining Sedo, Barbara was the CFO at QSC AG, a publicly listed telecommunications and technology company in Cologne, Germany."

With these structural changes implemented, Sedo’s CEO Tobias Flaitz is looking forward to a prosperous 2016 and beyond. “By continuing to occupy our management positions with experienced and proven experts, Sedo is well positioned to further expand its customer outreach and expertise within the domain name industry and also into other industries," Flaitz said. "Now more than ever, we’ll be able to coordinate our sales and marketing efforts in established markets like the U.S. and Europe as well as developing domain markets like China and India, under a more unified management team.”

Sedo (an acronym for “Search Engine for Domain Offers"), is a leading global domain marketplace and domain monetization provider. The company is headquartered in Cologne, Germany and also has a U.S. office in Boston. Sedo has assembled the world’s largest database of domain names for sale with more than 18 million listings. The success of Sedo's model has attracted a client base of more than 2 million domain professionals in 180 countries worldwide. 

The pioneering company has been an industry leader for more than 15 years. One of the earliest DN Journal Cover Stories back in 2004 detailed how the company began and quickly developed into a powerhouse that has stood the test of time.

Dima Beitzke
Chief Sales Officer Global

Christian Voss
Chief Marketing Officer

Barbara Stolz
Chief Financial Officer

Tobias Flaitz
Sedo CEO

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Dubai to Get a New Domain Conference - Meetings in India & The Netherlands Also Imminent

NamesCon got the 2016 domain conference calendar off to a great start last month and after a brief respite this month, we will see successive meetings in India, Dubai and the Netherlands over the next three months. 

First up, on March 5-6 will be a special Workshop in Goa, India being put together by the Domain Name Owners Association of India who stage the annual DomainX conference (held last summer in Bangalore and coming up again August 6-7, 2016 in New Delhi). A web page for the first ever DomainX 

Workshop says it will be "an opportunity for 25-30 professionals to meet, greet and network with some of the best in domain name business in India (a list of those planning to attend is also shown on the Workshop web page). Tickets are just $19.99 with only a handful left when I checked today.

Last week organizers of a new conference - Domainers Meet - scheduled for Dubai April 23-24,2016 began advertising the event on DNJournal.com. They wiill be releasing full details in the days ahead - including the venue and admission cost. In the meantime you can sign up to be notified by email as soon as registration opens (and you will get a 20% discount for your early expression of interest). 

Their website says, "The unique aim of this meet will be to increase the awareness, reach and market of domain names in Middle East and Persian Gulf Countries. Domainers Meet will be an outstanding event with a group of likeminded people in one location with the sole purpose of networking."  

Rounding out the spring trifecta will be the previously announced 2016 Domaining Europe conference that will be held May 29-31 in the Netherlands at The Hague's historic Grand Hotel Amrâth Kurhaus hotel. Today conference founder Dietmar Stefitz sent out an update on the event.

Dietmar said Braden Pollock will moderate again this year and .CLUB CMO Jeff Sass has joined the list of sponsors with plans to raffle off some state of the art gadgets at the show's opening day Sunday luncheon. DomainSponsor's Simon Pupo is also rounding up some cool gadgets to give away. Sedo and MrDomain are also supporting this year's show that will have a 

DOTCOM Day on Monday (hosted by Verisign) and a NOTCOM Day on Tuesday (with a host to be announced). We do know who one of the marquee speakers on NOTCOM day will be. Dietmar said, "Mrs. Ingrid Baele, Head of IP at Philips has agreed to participate on the . BRAND panel and will explain how they are going to use .philips.

(Posted February 1, 2016) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

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