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April 02, 2018

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The Lowdown
February 2018 Archive
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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.

Neustar Event at Upcoming ICANN 61 Meeting in San Juan Set to Raise Money for Puerto Rican Relief

The 61st  ICANN meeting is coming up March 10-15, 2018 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As you all know, Puerto Rico suffered devastating damage in Hurricane Irma last summer but ICANN said that San Juan has come back strong enough to handle such a major event, stating, "We recognize that Puerto Rico is still in the recovery phase, and while we can expect some minor inconveniences, the convention center and supporting hotels are fully operational and eager to host our event in March...We have been assured that our presence in San Juan will support economic recovery on the island."

One of the companies that will have a major presence at ICANN 61, global information services company Neustar (the administrator of  .US, America’s official web address), has a special


event planned to support the Puerto Rican recovery. On Tuesday evening, March 13, Neustar will bring together the domain name and Internet community for a purpose-driven event at Antiguo Casino San Juan. In collaboration with Americas for Conservation + the Arts (AFC+A), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families and neighborhoods recover from the devastating natural disasters, Neustar will be donating $25 per attendee to the Puerto Rican Resilience Fund. AFC+A launched the Puerto Rican Resilience fund 24 hours after the disasters occurred with a campaign that ran on http://www.24weeks.us and is continuing to help support the recovery process.  

The Neustar event, that will run from 7pm-11:30pm, will bring together domain name and Internet experts, as well as local community advocates for an evening of networking and purpose-driven conversations. If you will be at ICANN 61 you can get more information or confirm your attendance by contacting Carolin Bachmann, Neustar's Senior Public Relations Manager, by emailing carolin.bachmann at team.neustar or calling 415-312-2100.

(Posted February 28, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

2018 Global NGO Technology Report Reveals How Non-Profits Use Modern Tech to Reach Their Goals

Public Interest Registry, the nonprofit operator of the .org, .ngo and .ong top level domains, and Nonprofit Tech for Good have released the results of their 2018 Global NGO Technology Report.  This third annual report analyzes how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide utilize web, email and mobile technology, online fundraising tools and social media, as well as manage data and security.

The report details the key findings from a survey of 

5,352 NGO respondents from 164 countries across Africa, Asia, Australia & Oceania, Europe, North America and South America. It provides insight on the online and mobile communication tools NGOs around the world use to promote general awareness, communicate with core audiences and raise funds from donors, as well as an analysis of those online tools and comparisons of regional usage. New findings this year also uncover how NGOs implement data management and security software.

Some of the key findings globally include:

  • 92% of respondents have a website. Of those, 87% are mobile-compatible, a 9% percent increase from 2017

  • 68% of survey respondents noted that their organization uses the .org domain, compared to 8% that use the .com domain

  • Email dominates as the preferred form of communication to donors, with 63% of respondents regularly sending email updates, but 18% use messaging apps and 15% regularly send text messages to supporters

  • 72% of respondents accept online donations, an increase of 5% from 2017

  • While 95% agree that social media is effective for online brand awareness, only 32% of NGOs worldwide have a written social media strategy

  • Facebook leads global use as the highest social media platform with 93% of respondents having a dedicated page, followed by Twitter (77%) and YouTube (57%)

  • 25% of NGOs post daily to their Facebook page and 24% Tweet two-to-five times daily, yet 68% of NGOs post to LinkedIn less than once per week

  • 80% of NGOs worldwide rely on Microsoft Windows operating system for desktop/laptop computers; on smartphones/tablets global Google Android use outweighs Apple iOS

  • NGO respondents indicated using Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software to manage communications with donors (45%), and of those, 64% use cloud-based CRM

  • Only 41% of global respondents use encryption technology to protect data and communications

Heather Mansfield, founder of Nonprofit Tech for Good, said, “The findings from the 2018 report confirm that NGOs worldwide are rapidly expanding their use of technology and with increased reliance on technology, comes increased data management and security needs. For the first time, this year’s report provides benchmarks for managing and securing organizational and donor data. NGOs lag behind the private sector in this area and by providing benchmarks, we hope to inspire NGOs to modernize their data management and security practices.”

There is much more data in the full report, including breakdowns on how NGOs use technology in the various regions around the world.

(Posted February 22, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Latest GGRG Report on Liquid Domain Sales Breaks Down How Short .COMS Fared in 4Q-2017

Domain brokerage and consultancy GGRG.com has released their latest free quarterly report (.PDF file) breaking down aftermarket sales and development of "liquid domain names" in the 4th quarter of 2017. GGRG defines liquid domains as  being very short .com domains consisting of all letters (L) or all numbers (N), as well as 3-character (C) .coms that have a  combination of letters and numbers. GGRG terms these categories "liquid" domains because they are relatively easy to sell at prevailing market rates.

GGRG's latest report, produced by Founder Giuseppe Graziano in conjunction with Escrow.com, Intelium.com and ShortNames.com, said, "In Q4, the disclosed transactions for liquid domains, as reported by ShortNames.com, nearly doubled from $5.4 million to $9 million. The total liquid domain turnover went up (from 3,449 sales to 5,256), confirming that there might be a negative seasonality factor in the 3rd quarter for liquid domain sales. At the same time, Escrow.com sales volume went down 25% from $24 million to $18 million. According to Escrow.com, the most traded category in Q4 was 3-character .com domains ($6.4 million), followed by 4-letters at $4.6 million and 3-number .com domains at $3.97 million, the latter boosted by a record 3N portfolio sale by Rick Schwartz."

GGRG Founder Giuseppe Graziano

The report added, "Following the trend in our past reports, China continues to be the largest net gainer of liquid domains, adding over 10,000 domains (1.64%) in Q4. China now owns 31.17% of all liquid domains, with Chinese registrants controlling over 50% of the 5Ns (a 5% increase from last quarter), 45% of the 4Ns and 42% of the 2Ns. The United States is a distant second at 17.51%, after losing 10% of the 2Ls and 8.28% of 3L domains in Q4...The rest of the world and Europe are stable at the 4th and 5th place, respectively with 7.64% and 7.13%. European owners represent approximately 10% of registrants in the most developed categories (2Ls, 2Cs and 3Ls), which suggests that liquid domains are perceived as brands rather than investments in the European Union."

In its forecast for the current quarter that will end March 31, GGRG noted, "Q1 is typically a slow quarter, with fewer transactions due to a decrease in activity around the Chinese New Year. It is possible that the fall in the crypto currency prices could generate additional liquidity from the investors who are looking to hedge themselves from high volatility. The performance of the equity markets could also influence the liquidity flowing into domain names. While the market is still uncertain, the overall negative trend is likely to continue even if a few large transactions in the most valuable categories might keep the overall sales volume high."

These are just a few highlights from the latest GGRG report. You will find much more data in the full report here

(Posted February 20, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Latest Verisign Industry Brief Shows .Coms & ccTLDs Outperforming the Overall Market and a New gTLD Plunge 

Verisign (the administrator of the .com and .net domain registries) has released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief covering the 4th quarter of 2017. The report revealed that the year ended with a total of 332.4 million domains (covering all extensions) registered worldwide. With 3.1 million domains added over the past year that represents a 0.9% increase year over year and a 0.5% rise from the prior quarter (3Q-2017).

Verisign's .com and .net TLDs had a combined total of approximately 146.4 million registrations at the end of 4Q-2017, increasing 2.9% year over year and 0.4% from the prior quarter. .Com, by far the world's most popular TLD, ended the year with 131.9 million registrations, 5 million more than the 126.9 million reported one year ago (representing a 3.9% increase). 

As they did last quarter, ccTLDS (country code domain extensions), like the .coms, also continued to grow at a faster rate than the overall market. At the end of 2017 146.1 million ccTLDs were registered worldwide, a 2.4% jump year over year (compared to 0.9% for the entire market) and a 1% rise from the prior quarter (compared to 0.5% for the entire market).

It was much rougher sledding for new gTLDs. As of December 31, 2017 there were 20.6 million new gTLD registrations, a 19.5% plunge year over year (a loss of approximately 5 million registrations). However, the rate of the new gTLD decline began slowing, with the drop from the previous quarter coming in at -2.4% (representing a loss of about 500,000 domains).

You can read the full Verisign report here and the news release here. You can also find more information on Verisign’s blog.

(Posted February 15, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

VPS Web Hosting

Illinois Donut Shop Files Trademark Infringement Suit Against Chef Patrick's Mini Doughnut Factory

Patrick Ruddell  was known as "Chef Patrick" during the years he spent in the domain industry as an investor, broker, blogger, corporate employee (Moniker) and organizer, with his wife and current business partner Zezura Ruddell, of domain conferences on cruise ships. A couple of years ago Chef Patrick and Zezura moved on to a new industry that actually involved food - opening what has become a wildly popular doughnut shop in Tampa (with a second location recently added in St. Petersburg) called the Mini Doughnut Factory.

They have worked virtually around the clock the past two years to establish and promote their award winning start up company, becoming well-known and respected figures in the Tampa Bay business community in the process. So, I was dismayed to see an article in the World Intellectual Property Review (WIPR)  today about an Illinois donut shop operator with a similar name, Mini Donut Factory, filing a lawsuit against the Ruddells claiming trademark infringement. I'm no attorney, but the suit (PDF file) appears to be full of holes to me. I don't think the Illinois company will win it but the distraction will still cost the Ruddells time and money fighting it - resources that could be better used continuing to grow their business.

A couple of the more interesting points in the suit that jump out include the fact that the Illinois company, even though they had been operating since 2008, didn't even file their trademark application until May 2017 and it was granted only two months ago. They claim that though the Ruddell's company 

Above: The original Mini Doughnut Factory in Tampa.

Above: (left to right): Mini Doughnut Factory team member Lisa with co-owners Zezura and Patrick Ruddell getting boxes of mini-doughnuts ready for customers to take home back in 2016.

has a different spelling, the Ruddells, through their own MiniDoughnutFactory.com website were purposely trying to confuse people into thinking they were actually the Illinois company - as if there would be any benefit to the Ruddells in being confused with a completely unknown company that only does business in Illinois (and under a different name at that)! 

Here's the real kicker though. The operators of the Illinois company never even bothered to spend $10 to register their own name in .com! It was sitting there unregistered when the Ruddells settled on MiniDoughnutFactory.com and - knowing something about domains - also wisely registered MiniDonutFactory.com to redirect typos to their site. The Illinois company claims the Ruddells took advantage of their own inexplicable oversight to try to trick people and trade on the Illinois company's "good will" (good will that doesn't exist for a company unknown in Florida or anywhere else outside of their very limited trading area).  

While I expect the eventual decision to go the Ruddell's way, anything can happen in a courtroom (or UDRP proceeding) as we saw this week in another case involving Domaining.com owner Francois Carrillo's loss of ADO.com - a grossly unfair decision that Carrillo is thankfully going to fight in court, where he should eventually win as well. We are hoping justice prevails in both cases.

(Posted February 13, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Lords of Uptime (Rock Band Formed By Internet All-Stars) Replaces Manager for Alleged Allegiance to Rap!

If you were at  last week's NamesCon conference in Las Vegas you undoubtedly saw show President Soeren von Varchim (who also heads the giant Cloudfest conference that will attract over 6,000 attendees to Rust, Germany next month) on stage, in the hallways and at evening social events. What you might not know is that Soeren leads a second life as a singer/guitarist in the rock bank Lords of Uptime that is made up entirely of all-stars from various corners of the Internet (until recently their line up even included former GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving on drums).

Lest you think the Lords - who bill themselves as "The Bad Boys of the Internet" - are just a bunch of pals who noodle around on musical instruments as a lark - think again. They can really play - and they have played with some of the best. In fact at their next gig, March 13, 2018 at Cloudfest is Rust they will be joined on stage by Billy Morrison (from Billy Idol's band), Dave Navarro (from Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chiil Peppers) and Sebastian Bach (from Skid Row)! Soeren said, "Get ready people! We are gonna rock it loud, hard and raw!"

Soeren von Varchmin on stage with the Lords of Uptime

Obviously, von Varchmin is a man who is devoted to rock around the clock. However, according to a press release Lords of Uptime put out yesterday that apparently wasn't the case with everyone on the team. After being accused of favoring rap over rock music, Manager Christian Dawson was "fired" and replaced with Chuck Wadlow. The release said, "With rumors swirling that Dawson secretly coveted rap music over rock, the Lord’s decision to replace Dawson with an individual more in tune with their rock n’ roll agenda was a logical one - especially with their next performance at the Hotel Colosseo March 13 mere weeks away." 

Chuck Wadlow
Lords of Uptime Manager

The release added, "Wadlow (Infopro) is a veteran cloud hosting enthusiast and longtime friend of Cloudfest who was once described by rock legend Sebastian Bach as a "true rock and roller."  Chuck sees his new role as a way to give back to the Cloudfest community and to support efforts in taking the Lords to a whole other level."

Soeren himself added, “Chuck rocks! We can't think of anyone more uniquely suited for the band. He has previously taken on the role of CloudFest brand ambassador with distinction - twice - and we look forward to what he has in store as we move closer to our next gig in Europa Park."

While the appointment of Wadlow is legit, the "firing" of Dawson has all of the earmarks of a clever publicity stunt. Especially since Dawson and von Varchmin are friends and have been engaging in friendly banter about the managerial change on Facebook. In fact I ran in to them together one afternoon at Namescon last week (see photo below of all of us taken by Sedo's Christian Voss who is at far left. Soeren is in the center and Christian Dawson is at far right). Of course, this could have been before rock stickler von Varchmin discovered his friend's alleged affinity for rap! :-) 

(Posted February 8, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Closing Day Photos & Highlights From the 2018 NamesCon Global Conference Wednesday in Las Vegas

The  5th annual edition of the NamesCon Global conference is now history. The curtain came down on the industry's biggest investor/developer event at the Tropicana Hotel with a pair of special sessions that capped the show's  four-day run in Las Vegas on Wednesday (January 31, 2018).

If you missed our coverage from the first three three days of the conference you can see Sunday's opening day photos and highlights here, day 2 Monday here and day 3 Tuesday here.

Above and below: The final day Wednesday began at 11am with a Closing Keynote Roundtable that featured (left to right on the dais below): moderator Derek Newman, Sandeep Ramchandani (Radix Registry), Steve Heflin (Afilias), Rob Monster (DigitalTown) and Christian Voss (Sedo).

The wide-ranging roundtable session ran close to two hours during which attendees could also enjoy a full breakfast (below) before beginning their journey home. 

Above: The Exhibition Hall was also open for three hours Wednesday from 11am-2pm giving attendees a chance to visit service providers they may have missed earlier in the week while busy absorbing a seemingly endless variety of business sessions. I stopped by to see Stuart Dinnes (Director Channel Strategy) at the Verisign booth. Verisign served as NamesCon Global's title sponsor this year.

Below: The GoDaddy booth was also a beehive of activity throughout show week as a steady flow of attendees came by to chat with representatives from the world's biggest registrar.

Above: Of course there is nothing show goers love more than a free souvenir T-shirt from a favorite service provide. This visitor picks up a nice 101Domain.com shirt from COO Anthony Beltran while visiting the popular registrar's booth Wednesday.

Below: Dynadot is another registrar that has become a favorite among domain investors who appreciate their appealing interface, consistently low prices and excellent customer service, as well as the growing aftermarket the site provides. I stopped by to chat with Barry Coughlan (left) about the company's history and current services.

Above: After checking out of their rooms many attendees used that 11am-2pm window to meet in the Exhibit Hall for some final networking before heading to the airport. 

Below: Others stayed on for the day's second special event - NamesCon's first Unconference, held in the Keynote Hall from 2-5pm with Bill Sweetman (left) from NameNinja and Braden Pollock from LegalBrandMarketing moderating the event. 

So, what is an Unconference? In short, NamesCon provides the forum and the moderators, but attendees decide the content. They follow the World Café method, where each table in the keynote hall is dedicated to a certain topic, as decided upon by Unconference attendees. The topics they want to discuss are listed on a white board with a table then devoted to each one (as you see below). Attendees are free to move from table to table to delve into whatever topic interests them as the unconference unfolds.

Above and below: Another important part of unconferences are the white paper table coverings and magic markers.  Attendees can use the markers to jot down thoughts or things they learned that might be useful to others who follow them to that table. The self-directed system is a very casual, relaxing way to network and learn more about the things you are most interested in.

Above: Greg Ricks (at right) was among the familiar faces at the Wednesday unconference that officially closed the show. Greg, who came in from Texas, was the owner of DNForum.com, when I entered the business in 2002. It was the place many of us learned about the domain world when it was still in its infancy. Today we are fortunate to have a rich variety of forums, blogs, books and other resources that make industry information and insight readily available, but it is conferences provide the final piece of the puzzle you need to have the best possible chance to succeed - a place to build personal relationships through face to face contacts. NamesCon Global 2018 underscored that truth yet again and sent us home much better equipped to take advantage of the opportunities that await in the year ahead and beyond. Thanks to all everyone on the NamesCon team for another job very well done.

(Posted February 1, 2018) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

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