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The Lowdown
April 2020 Archive
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Welcome to the The Lowdown from 
DN Journal
- your source for notable news 
and information from all corners of the global domain name industry! 

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

Coronavirus Pandemic Claims Another Conference - No NamesCon Europe This Year But Show to Return in 2021 

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has claimed another conference. The 2020 edition of NamesCon Europe was to have been held August 6th-8th in Budapest, Hungary but, like so many other meetings across all industries, this one has now officially been canceled. With so many people confined mostly to home around the world and no way to know what  conditions will be like this summer, NamesCon clearly had no choice

On the plus side, after doing what has to be done, NamesCon organizers immediately set their sites on staging the show next year in Budapest and have already penned the dates in - July 15-17, 2021. They are also continuing to plan for NamesCon Global 2021 earlier in the new year.

While the 2020 live meeting is out, a different version of NamesCon may take place online this year instead. A statement from show organizers said, "We’re evaluating a virtual replacement event for this summer! Staying connected is important for individual business outcomes as well as boosting the profile of the industry as a whole. That's why we're planning NamesCon's first-ever virtual conference. We want to deliver a summer event to bring everyone together, but the dates have not been finalized. Don’t worry, though: travel and hotel won’t be an issue... This is where your experience and insight can shine—the survey and call for submissions are now open." 

If you are interested in an online conference the NamesCon survey gives you an opportunity to share your opinions on the idea as well as any suggestions you might have for sessions, panels or presentations.

It is remarkable how much the world has changed since so many of us were meeting in person at the 2020 NamesCon Global conference in Austin, Texas in January. We were back home for barely a month before the coronavirus reared its ugly head in our part of the world and now, just two months later, we have over 60,000 dead in the U.S. alone from it. Wishing you all safety and good health as we all continue to navigate this new world. Sooner or later, the coast will clear and we will be so happy to see you again in person when that times comes!

(Posted April 30, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Internet Commerce Association Introduces a More Affordable Membership Option That Cuts Cost in Half

The Internet Commerce Assocation (ICA), the non-profit organization that protects the rights of domain registrants, has just taken a big step to make membership in the rapidly growing group more affordable. The ICA did it by adding a new basic Membership level that costs $25 a month. Previously, the most affordable level was the $50 a month Individual Membership level (that remains in place with some additional perks that distinguish it from the new basic membership option). 


Kamila Sekiewicz
Executive Director
Internet Commerce Association

In addition to helping more people join the ICA effort to protect domain owner rights, the new level could provide some relief to current Individual level members who are suffering from  financial issues created by the current Covid-19 pandemic. ICA Executive Director Kamila Sekiewicz said, "We are glad to make membership in the ICA more affordable to the thousands of domain investors who are still establishing themselves in the industry and we're hopeful that this will encourage continued growth of the ICA's membership. This membership level is also available to existing members who wish to remain as ICA members but whose businesses have been disrupted by the pandemic."

The new level gives the ICA a total of six membership tiers that have attracted everyone from beginning domain investors to industry veterans, SMBs and large corporations. You can get details on all membership levels, costs and benefits here.

(Posted April 25, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Rare Interview with Domain Investment Star Yoni Belousov is Added to New Series at GGRG.com

A couple of weeks ago I told you about Giuseppe Graziano launching a new series of  interviews with domain industry pros that he is publishing on the GGRG.com website (also the home of his domain brokerage and consulting firm). Giuseppe hopes the series will give industry newcomers and veterans alike more insight into the business and how others have made their living in it.  

I was honored to be the subject of Giuseppe's first interview published March 26, 2020, and he is already back with another in-depth discussion featuring one of the most successful investors in the business, Yoni Belousov. This is something of a coup for Giuseppe because Yoni, who is based in Vancouver, Canada, has always preferred to keep a low public profile. A lot of people would have loved to have the opportunity to pick Belousov's brain - now Giuseppe has done it and shared all of the insight Yoni gave him in the new interview that came out today.

Yoni talks about what first attracted him to domain investing 18 years ago (when he was still a teenager!) and goes on to lay out the key things he has learned over the past two decades. He also shares what he believes are the most common mistakes domain investors make, so you can avoid those pitfalls yourself. 


Yoni Belousov
(photo from GGRG.com)

Yoni has seen a lot of changes over the years, so you will also want to see what he says he would do with $10,000 if he was going to invest it now. It is an excellent interview across the board, so make sure you check it out at GGRG.com.

(Posted April 14, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

GoDaddy's Acquisition of Neustar Registry Operations Gives Them .Biz, .CO, a Role in Running Over 200 TLDs and a Chance to Jump Start .US

Less than two months after acquiring Uniregistry's registrar & market and Founder  Frank Schilling's massive domain portfolio, industry giant GoDaddy has made another monster acquisition. Late Monday (April 6, 2020), the company announced it has Neustar Inc's Registry business, including the Neustar owned .biz registry, the rights to administer several major ccTLDs, including .CO 


and .US and the contract to provide backend operations for over 200 hundred others, including new TLDs like .club. In all The Neustar registry business includes approximately 12 million domains across some 215 TLDs. 

Nicolai Bezsonoff

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed and it will still have to pass regulatory muster, however the the deal is expected to close in this quarter (2Q-2020).

Under GoDaddy, the previous Neustar assets will be called GoDaddy Registry and will be led by Nicolai Bezsonoff, currently Senior Vice President and General Manager of Neustar's Registry business. Mr. Bezsonoff said, "Our team is thrilled to join the GoDaddy family. We share a strong history of partnership and collaboration with GoDaddy that spans two decades. Additionally, we have the same values, a common culture of innovation, and a mutual vision for empowering individuals, businesses and brands to succeed online."

GoDaddy Chief Operating Officer Andrew Low Ah Kee added, "GoDaddy is committed to helping everyday entrepreneurs bring their ideas online with the best possible domain name choices.  Neustar's registry platform enables us to accelerate that commitment and provides enhanced scalability for future growth. For more than two decades, GoDaddy has used its consumer insight to drive innovation in the domain industry and we'll continue to do so by creating more choice and value for consumers."

As part of the transaction, GoDaddy, the world's biggest domain registrar, said it will strictly adhere to a governance model that maintains independence between the GoDaddy registry and registrar businesses. 

Personally, I will be especially interested in seeing how the .US registry fares when  GoDaddy takes control. Many in the .US camp have felt America's country code never got the promotion it deserved from Neustar who has administered the TLD since 2001 under a contract with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the United States Department of Commerce. Back in 2007, when the contract came up for renewal, GoDaddy tried to get it but the NTIA chose to leave .US  with Neustar (and did so again in 2014). That disappointed those .US fans who felt GoDaddy's marketing prowess could give the TLD a new lease on life. 


Now, if this deal is approved, we will get to see first hand whether or not .US can blossom under new management and flourish in the way many other ccTLDs have in recent years, including repurposed extensions like .co, .io and .ai and long established favorites like Germany's .de and Great Britain's .uk

(Posted April 7, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

Restructuring of  CentralNic Leadership Team Puts 5 Executives in New Roles as COO Exits

CentralNic Group PLC (AIM: CNIC) has announced a restructuring of their leadership team that resulted in five executives moving into new positions. They will help oversee a workforce of some 400 employees in one of the industry's fastest growing companies.


Over 45 million domains are currently using CentralNic platforms that are customized for every domain customer type (registry, reseller, corporate, SMB and domain investor).

CentralNic CEO Ben Crawford said, ”I take great pleasure in welcoming our new hires and appointees into their new roles, and I am confident we have the best team in place to maintain our track record of growth. In these difficult times, these new hires and changes reflect our confidence in the robustness of our business."

Two of those appointees are Robbie Birkner (top left) and Tony Kim (top right) who co-founded the popular Vancouver, Canada based Hexonet.com domain registrar that CentralNic acquired last year. Birkner, a 20-year industry veteran, becomes the Head of Reseller Division, the largest of the company's business divisions in terms of revenue. He will have oversight of the strategic direction, expansion and operation of all CentralNic wholesale channels and platforms for domain names, which encompasses the leading reseller brands of RRPproxy by Key-Systems, Hexonet, PartnerGate, TPP Wholesale and more. Kim's new post is Head of Product, responsible for managing new product development and onboarding across Group companies. Tony has over 18 years of experience in the industry. Before co-founding Hexonet he was General Manager at Hostway Canada and Director of Product Development for Hostway Corp USA.

Stuart Fuller (top left) has been appointed as the Head of Brand Services Division, overseeing BrandShelter and CentralNic’s interest in Thomsen Trampedach, which delivers domain portfolio management and brand protection services to Corporate clients. Stuart brings over 14 years of experience in the industry and joined CentralNic three years ago as Group Commercial Director, after eleven years at corporate domain name management and brand protection firm NetNames (now CSC). 

Gavin Brown (top right) has been appointed Head of Registry Solutions, providing registry software and managed services to country code Top-Level Domain names globally. CentralNic is also the world’s leading distributor of new Top-Level Domains, with a global market share of over 47% and those will be under Brown's purview as well. Brown, who has 20 years of industry experience and is CentralNic's longest-serving employee, will also retain his role as Chief Innovation Officer for the Group. Before taking that role in 2019, Gavin was CTO of CentralNic for fourteen years.

The talented quintet of appointees also includes Oliver Fries (at left), who has been appointed Head of Shared Services, and will oversee technology and other shared services for the Reseller, Retail, Registry Solutions and Brand Services business divisions. Oliver brings over 17 years of experience in technical and managerial roles and will be focusing on key activities around infrastructure, systems, development, support and domain procurement. 

Oliver previously held the position of CTO at CentralNic’s subsidiary Key-Systems where he played a key role in shaping its core technology as well as helping the company grow and evolve. He previously worked in the Telecommunication sector as a software developer and project manager.

While those five executives are taking on new roles, another will be leaving. CEO Crawford said, “I regret to inform you that Alex Siffrin, our COO for Centralnic Group, and Founder/CEO of KeyDrive, has decided it is time for a new challenge and therefore is stepping down from his role with CentralNic. Alex’s legacy will live on in CentralNic as we continue to develop the great businesses he built, which will now pass into the very capable hands of the team of hugely talented people that Alex hired and nurtured over the past two decades. Alex remains a valued stakeholder, and his family remains one of the largest shareholders of CentralNic."

(Posted April 1, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:

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