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April 01, 2020

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The Lowdown Subscribe to our RSS Feed
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.

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:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200401.htm

VPS Web Hosting

Why GGRG Founder Giuseppe Graziano Decided to Turn the Tables on DNJournal's Ron Jackson

Giuseppe Graziano, the Founder & CEO of Lisbon, Portugal based domain brokerage and consultancy firm GGRG.com, has enjoyed a lot of success since entering this industry as the Director of European Business Development for Domain Holdings in 2012. He moved on to found his own shop in 2014 and in 2016 Escrow.com gave him a Master of Domains Award as one  of the top 3 highest-grossing domain brokers in the world. 

A lot of Giuseppe's success comes from being able to easily serve clients around the world because he speaks five languages and has lived in five different countries across three continents. He also holds a Masters Degree in International Management from Fudan University in Shanghai, China.

In addition to being known for his skills as a broker and consultant, industry pros appreciate the data Graziano collects, analyzes and publishes in his popular quarterly industry report on liquid domain sales titled LXDO

 

Giuseppe Graziano
Founder & CEO, GGRG.com

Now, Giuseppe is expanding his publishing activity with the launch today of a new series of interviews aimed at giving industry newcomers and veterans alike more insight into the domain business and how others have made a living in it.

I was honored to be asked to be the subject of Giuseppe's first article in that series, published earlier today. He told me the invitation came because he had been a long time fan of DNJournal.com, especially the many biographical Cover Stories we've done over the years. Graziano went on to say he thought being able to read our stories about Domain Holdings Co-Founders John Ferber and Chad Folkening before interviewing with the company helped him land the job there (he was also a big fan of a 2017 Cover Story about Domain Holdings Senior VP Alan Dunn with whom he also worked before starting GGRG).

For my part, having Giuseppe put me on the opposite side of the interview table felt a little odd, but it was fun re-tracing the journey from radio DJ, to TV reporter to record store owner to the domain business and DNJournal.com. It also brought home how incredibly fast so many decades have flown by. As I told Giuseppe, the positive thing about that was gaining an even greater appreciation for the precious time every new day gives us. At this very moment almost all of us around the world are being threatened by a deadly virus that could bring any of our stories to an immediate end. Tomorrow is promised to no one - so do everything you can to make the most of today (but for the time being at least, make sure you are doing that at home)!

A photo from Giuseppe Graziano's interview article with Ron Jackson 
(who is disrupting a 1980 publicity photo shoot at the ABC-TV station in Sarasota, Florida).

You can read Giuseppe Graziano's article here.

(Posted March 26, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200326.htm

Verisign Says 2019 Ended With Over 362 Million Domains Registered Worldwide - .Com Outperformed Market but .Net Continued Slide

Verisign has released their latest quarterly Domain Name Industry Brief (.pdf file) covering the 4th quarter of 2019. The new report revealed that at the end of the quarter, total domain registrations across all TLDs had reached 362.3 million worldwide. That is an increase of 13.5 million domains from the same point a year earlier, a 3.9% rise.  

Verisign administers several Top Level Domain, including the world's most popular TLD, .com, as well as the second most popular gTLD, .net. They reported total .com registrations reached 145.4 million at the end of 4Q-2019, outperforming the overall market with a 4.6% rise year over year. It remained a different story for .net though as that 

 

TLD continued to decline. .Net slid 4.3% from 14 million a year earlier to 13.4 million registrations at the end of 4Q-2019.

ccTLD (country code TLD) registrations underperformed the overall market but that category did show an increase, adding 3.3 million registrations in 2019 to close the year with 157.6 million domains, a 2.1% rise year over year.

Thanks to a surge in 4Q registrations, new gTLDs jumped 23.2% year over year to close 4Q-2019 with 29.3 million registrations. Of the 5.5 million domains added over 2019, 5.3 million were registered in the final quarter of the year! Without that late charge, new gTLDs would have shown virtually no growth from the previous year. 

(Posted March 11, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200311.htm

Radix Reports Big Revenue & Profit Jump in 2019,  Donuts Names a New CMO and InterNetX/Sedo Issues a Global Domain Report

We have several things to share with you today. Radix, who operates a large  portfolio of new gTLD domain registries, has released details on their 2019 revenue. The company reported gross revenue of over $21 million, a 26% surge from the previous year.  Radix's net profit grew even more, jumping by 54% from 2018. In another good sign, they closed 2019 with momentum on their side as Q4 was their strongest of the year.  

Radix, who administers 10 gTLDs as well as the .PW ccTLD, noted that 25% of their revenue came from standard registrations and 64% from standard renewals. Radix’s premium domains cumulatively generated over $2 million in revenue with 58% of that coming from 

 

premium renewals. The United States was the biggest contributor to Radix's revenue, accounting for 50% of the total. Germany was next highest with 12% then China with 7%

Radix also pointed out that they are the only registry portfolio holder that has put two of its new TLDs over the 1 million mark in domain registrations. .ONLINE reached that milestone in November 2018 and .SITE joined the club in February 2019.

Mina Neuberg
Chief Marketing Officer, Donuts

Speaking of large domain registry portfolio holders, we also have some news from the biggest of them all, Donuts. The Bellevue, Washington based company that operates over 240 new gTLDs, has named Mina Neuberg as their new Chief Marketing Officer. Neuberg will be responsible for leading the marketing, creative, communications and outreach functions to drive Donuts consumer awareness and strategic marketing initiatives. 

Neuberg joins Donuts from Revolution Math, where she served as Chief Marketing Officer for the past two years. Previously, she spent over two years at BAMKO, serving as its SVP, Marketing and Consumer Insights. 

Donuts CEO Akram Atallah said, "Mina has an excellent track record of strategic marketing expertise and customer engagement which make her the ideal person to join Donuts as Chief Marketing Officer. Her years of experience paired with her expertise in strategic marketing, consumer experience and driving awareness will be instrumental as we build on our momentum in the marketplace.”

Neuberg added, "I am overjoyed to join Donuts at this exciting time in the company’s continued growth. I deeply connect with Donuts’ and Name.com’s mission to provide creative and meaningful online identities to entrepreneurs, organizations, and dreamers alike. I look forward to working with our executive and marketing teams to elevate Donuts’ and Name.com’s presence in the market and build deeper connections with new and existing customers worldwide.” Name.com is the domain registrar that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Donuts.

Also today, in case you missed the original announcement that came among the hustle and bustle of  NamesCon Global, I wanted to alert you to a new Global Domain Report that has been put together and released by domain registrar InterNetX and popular domain marketplace Sedo. The document includes numerous data sets and analyses of the current status of the domain business. The companies said millions of data sets were collected and analyzed for the report with internal data from Sedo and InterNetX augmented by data sources from third parties such as VeriSign, CENTR and nTLDstats.

The report noted that 369 million domains have been registered to date with .com accounting for 147.2 million of those. In addition to exploring .com and the nearly 1,200 alternatives now available, the report looks at what the future of domain search might look like and what  registrars can offer their customers to provide an  optimal buying experience.

As you would expect with Sedo involved, the report also examines the current state of the domain aftermarket. The report is available free of charge and can be accessed here: DomainReport.global.

(Posted March 5, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200305.htm

Domain Community Rallies Around Donna Adams as the Industry Pioneer Faces Life Threatening Health Crisis

Donna Adams (Mahony) was already a well established, highly respected member of the domain investment community when I stumbled upon this business back in 2002. Donna was one of the first female domain investors and was always one of the first to welcome and support newcomers (like me) when they showed up at DNForum.com, a site that was then the central gathering place for people who had an  inexplicable passion for domain names.  

Succeeding in the domain business was (and is) much more difficult than it appears to be from the outside, so newcomers desperately needed someone to show them the ropes so they could  avoid wasting their time and money along the way.  Donna was among the very best advisors, always generous with her time and resources. 

 

Donna Adams (Mahony)

Donna has always been a giver by nature but now she needs a little help of her own. She's not the kind who would ever ask for it, so one of her friends, Brian Gilbert, took it upon himself to sound the alarm, quickly drawing support from dozens of others who have been so positively impacted by Donna over the past two (or more) decades. Donna was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension several years ago, the same disease that led Brian's late wife, Charlotte (also a beloved member of the domain community and one of Donna's closest friends) to a heart/lung transplant and ultimately her untimely death early last year.

Now, Donna needs life-saving surgery of her own, and she has a chance to get it at the #1 treatment facility for this disease in the world. The problem is there are many expenses not covered by insurance that are obstacles that need to be removed from her path to recovery. So, yesterday Brian started a GoFundMe account to raise funds to help cover those expenses. Within hours, the modest goal of $7,500 had been surpassed as dozens of donors rushed to Donna's aid (a testament to how many people she has positively impacted along the way). 

As of this writing the total has crossed $10,000. Still, if you have ever needed medical care you now how quickly uncovered costs can spiral out of control. For anyone who can help with a few dollars I would encourage you to add what you can to Donna's account. She already has more than enough stress on her plate and not having to worry as much about mounting expenses will give her some well deserved peace of mind. 

In any case, whether you can contribute monetarily or not, I hope everyone will visit the GoFund me page to read Brian's meticulously detailed account of  the treatment journey Donna will be on for the next two months. It requires trips back and forth (with a helper) between Donna's home in Arizona and the treatment facility in San Diego.  It will not be an easy gauntlet to run but we can all make it a little bit easier just by dropping Donna a note, or leaving a post, telling her what she means to us and how  much we are rooting for her in this battle!  A positive attitude and support from an Army of friends are the most powerful weapons anyone could have in the kind of fight Donna is in now. 

(Left to right): Donna's friends Mike Robertson and Brian Gilbert 
with Donna Adams (Mahony) on a recent visit to her Arizona home.

(Posted March 3, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200303.htm

An Inside Look at the Fabulous/Directnic Offices in Florida and Alexander Schubert's Plan for .Tampa  

I had an opportunity to connect with two long-time friends and industry veterans this week and didn't even have to leave our home base in Tampa to do it, even though both come from different continents! It made for a most interesting day that gave me some fresh insight into the world of domain registrars, as well as new approaches to running future new gTLD registries. Before I get to that, a little bit of their back stories will explain what led to the get together with two guys who work in different sectors of the industry, but whose fields (registrars vs. registries) rely greatly on each other for success.

One, Mike Robertson, is from Australia but has been living and working in Tampa for almost six years now. Mike, as most of our readers know, is the Director of Business Development for popular registrars Fabulous.com and Directnic.com, sister companies that share a suite of spacious offices at the Tampa International Airport. The two registrars have long been favorites with domain investors. DirectNic, founded in 2001, was known more for its small to medium size business clientele but the quality of their platform also attracted high end investors who held large portfolios, like "Domain King" Rick Schwartz. Fabulous was launched a year later, specifically for the purpose of meeting the unique needs of domain investors.

Directnic's home base is actually in New Orleans but they've long maintained offices in 

 

Mike Robertson
Director of Business Development
Fabulous.com & Directnic.com

Tampa as well, with some of their top managers and backend operations staff working in Florida. Soon after Directnic acquired Fabulous in 2017, they put the two registrars together in ultra-convenient new digs at the airport where their offices in the Marriott Hotel connect directly to the main terminal. 

I had visited Mike (whom I've know for over 15 years) in the old offices when he first moved to Tampa in 2014 to work for Directnic's parent company, DNC Holdings (and wrote a Cover Story about how and why that union came about). However, since I see Mike at every conference,  including the most recent NamesCon Global held in Austin, Texas just last month, I still had not visited the new airport offices. It suddenly became a priority when Mike told me that he will be moving back to Australia in August (his job with Fabulous/Directnic will not change, he'll just be doing it from his homeland, closer to family and friends he has missed seeing as much in recent years). 

Alexander Schubert
Project Lead, dotTAMPA

Coincidentally, at the same time I got that news from Mike, I had been planning to get together with another old friend (also dating back over 15 years) who had recently moved to Tampa to lay the groundwork for a .Tampa new gTLD he plans to apply for when ICANN opens a second round of new gTLD applications (when that will happen is currently unknown). Alexander Schubert, a native of Germany, who has been living in Riga, Latvia much of the last decade (and previously lived in the Tampa Bay area for nearly two years), has already proven his ability to get a major city domain into the root. Along with Dirk Krischenowski, Alexander co-founded the first one ever delegated, .berlin. He and Dirk launched the effort in 2005 and never gave up the dream. The TLD was finally approved by ICANN and went live in March 2014.

With registrars Fabulous and Directnic offering dozens of new gTLDs, I felt Mike Robertson and his company's razor sharp COO, Rob Alfonso, would be as interested in what Schubert was doing with .tampa as I was, so getting together with everyone at once was a no brainer and it proved to be every bit as enlightening and enjoyable as I thought it would.

Above: My wife Diana has known Alexander and Mike as long as I have and they are her friends too, so she was looking forward to the visit as much as I was. Here, shortly after we arrived, she and Alexander started catching up in the lounge area at the Fabulous/Directnic offices at the Tampa International Airport Thursday, February 27, 2020. 

Above (left to right): Ron Jackson and Alexander Schubert kick off a visit to Director of Business Development Mike Robertson in the conference room at the Fabulous/Directnic offices in Tampa.

Below: Mike Robertson reviewing the Fabulous.com website on his office computer as monorail trams at the Tampa International Airport zoom by his window.

Above: Fabulous.com/Directnic Chief Operating Officer Rob Alfonso (left) and Director of Business Development Mike Robertson in front of one of the large hallway murals in their offices that feature the dozens of TLDs the domain registrars offer their clients around the world.

When Mike, Alexander and I popped into Rob's office I wasn't expecting to take too much time away from his busy schedule, but the four of us wound up talking off the cuff for a full hour about the symbiotic but sometimes rocky relationship between domain registrars and domain registries. The registries own and operate the various TLDs (top level domains like .com, .net, .org and .xyz, for example) and wholesale them to registrars that make up the global retail channel . Having Alexander, a TLD registry founder and expert on that part of the industry in the room, gave registrar operators Rob and Mike a chance to discuss a lot of mutual issues in a forthright way that helped all of us come away better informed and in general agreement about why many new TLDs have had trouble gaining traction.

A lot of new TLD operators expected new extensions to essentially sell themselves (after all, new domain possibilities, like home.loans and vacation.rentals look great on paper and could reasonably be expected to draw a lot of attention). However, the general public isn't nearly as familiar with even the simplest domain concepts that those of us in the industry take for granted. The "build it and they will come" approach has largely fallen far short of expectations. Many registries hoped registrars would take on the expensive marketing burden for the new names, while registrars, already operating on thin margins, saw that as one of several unrealistic expectations the new TLD operators came to the table with. That doesn't mean the tide won't be turned over time, especially now that it has become obvious that it will take more marketing muscle and innovative ideas from everyone with skin in the game to break through the clutter of hundreds of new gTLDS so the rest of the world will recognize and want them.

Alexander Schubert certainly seems to have learned from experience. His strategy for both .tampa and his other major project, a future .airport (an interesting coincidence since we were all meeting in an airport!) are the exact opposite of those most registries have used. For .tampa he set up a non-profit organization and has spent months getting community leaders (including Tampa Mayor Jane Castor) interested in backing the idea, showing them how the new TLD would simplify online branding of everything related to Tampa, from tourism to basic city services. For example, the Tampa Police Department's current website is 

at the highly forgettable www.tampagov.net/police. Ms. Castor, a former Tampa Police Chief herself, quickly recognized that www.police.tampa would be a vast improvement. 

At one meeting Schubert found himself between Mayor Castor and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. If you know anything about the Tampa Bay area, you know there has long been a friendly rivalry between the two cities. When Alexander showed Mayor Kriseman his .tampa business card, the Mayor himself inquired about the possibility of getting a .stpete domain and put Schubert in contact with a city communications official to get more information. With formal backing from cities, local Chambers of Commerce, etc., Schubert believes a new extension can be organically grown and firmly established as a highly desirable, universal online community identity and resource. He is leaving nothing to chance, tirelessly attending every conceivable local public meeting and pounding the pavement to make contacts and find funding so he can once again turn one of his "TLD dreams" into a reality.

Above: Back on the office tour, we noticed that Fabulous/Directnic firmly believes in the "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" proverb. When Alexander spotted the original Pac-Man console in the office, he promptly accepted Mike's challenge to do battle. Spoiler alert - someone gotten eaten alive!

Above: They say "an Army marches on its stomach". Well, so do the troops at Internet companies! Mike Robertson proudly showed us the Fabulous/Directnic kitchen and its wide variety of healthy fruits and vegetables (this was right after he hid the bowl of candy bars on top of the compact ovens at the right)! 

Above: Speaking of food, after two hours in the office talking about domains (and playing video games) we took the short walk into the Tampa International Airport terminal to wrap up the visit with lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was great way to end a memorable get together with good people. 

One of the most attractive things about our business is that you could go to virtually any big city in the world and enjoy a similar outing with industry friends. We just happened to be able to do it in our own town this week, but as always, it was the company that mattered, not the location!

(Posted February 29, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200229.htm

New GGRG Report Breaks Down Over $19 Million in Liquid Domain Sales Closed in Q4-2019

GGRG.com has released their latest quarterly Liquid Domains Overview (LXDO), covering the 4th quarter of 2019. These reports break down aftermarket sales results for short .com domains comprised of 2-4 letters, 2-5 numbers and a combination of 2-3 characters mixing letters and numbers. Collectively, GGRG refers to domains that fit those parameters as liquid domains because there are almost always buyers (at least at the wholesale level) for them. As in all markets, prices fluctuate for these closely-followed domains, of course, which is why GGRG developed the LXDO to track those price movements and give you the most current information available on how these domains are currently being valued.

This is the 14th edition of the LXDO that the Lisbon, Portugal based domain brokerage and consulting firm founded by Giuseppe Graziano has published. It includes data collected from a variety of public sources as well as cumulative private data contributed by Escrow.com. The report is presented in infographic format for easy consumption of the information.

The latest report begins with a brief overview page that, for Q4-2019, shows the total dollar volume for publicly reported liquid domain sales jumped to nearly $7.3 million, a rise of over 30% from the previous quarter. However that news is tempered by seeing total liquid domain sales dip 13.3% at Escrow.com to about $12.2 million (individual domain sales information is not released by Escrow.com but they do their cumulative sales total for these domains).

Giuseppe Graziano
GGRG Founder

The main page overview is just the tip of the iceberg though. To get the more detailed information from the nine individual sub-categories (like two-letter .coms, three-letter .coms, etc) be sure you don't overlook the Menu row at the top of the main LXDO page that has abbreviated links that will take you to each section. Those are shown as: (there are also links to information and on the same row). The entire liquid domains universe, as defined by GGRG, totals just 614,298 domains, a relative scarcity that contributes to the investment value of these domains.

(Posted February 18, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200218.htm

Is the Tide Turning for Domain Investors on the UDRP Front? New Data Uncovered by Attorney Howard Neu is Promising

In the course of my reading this week I came across an article by veteran domain attorney Howard Neu posted on his NeusNews.com blog that was quite surprising. It unveiled an encouraging trend that bears watching in the months ahead. Before getting into the specifics, for those not familiar with the UDRP, some brief background may be helpful.

As a domain industry attorney, Howard frequently handles UDRP cases and writes about developments related to ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). That's the arbitration system that resolves disputes that arise when a

Image from Bigstock

trademark owner claims someone's ownership of a particular domain name infringes on their rights.

If a UDRP complaint is upheld by the arbitration panel, the domain gets transferred to the complainant. If they lose, the name stays with the current owner (the respondent) but  even if the respondent wins the battle they typically lose several thousand dollars in legal expenses from having to defend their property (often from a party who had no legitimate claim to the name in the first place). There is no financial penalty for filing a frivolous UDRP complaint against someone (only the risk of losing your own legal fees). Worst case scenario is the offender is ruled guilty of a reverse domain name hijacking attempt and essentially told to "go and sin no more."

Attorney Howard Neu
NeusNews.com

Of course, this emboldens others to try their luck at using the system to steal valuable domain names. UDRP panelists are just as responsible for stopping that from happening as they are for stopping the bad actors who register domains for the purpose of infringing on and profiting from famous marks. 

Over the nearly 20 years I have been in this business, the feeling among the vast majority of domain investors has been that the deck has been stacked against them, as they wound up on the losing end of far more UDRP decisions than they won, something that the statistics bore out. That's why the new stats in Howard's article caught my eye.

After studying nearly 200 recent cases handled by WIPO and THE FORUM (two well-known arbitration services), Howard found the odds for domain owners were evening out and even shifting in their favor at THE FORUM. Most cases that are lost are uncontested (the domain owner simply fails to respond

because they can't afford the cost to defend the domain or the name is not worth that much to them). However, in the 30 WIPO cases that were contested (out of 171 filed) the complainants won only 17 of 30 - much closer to a 50/50 chance for respondents than we are used to seeing.  In the real shocker, at THE FORUM, where 27 cases were filed but only five contested, only one complainant won - an 80% success rate for the domain owners. Howard emphasized that this is a very limited data set at this point but he will continue to follow and report on UDRP results very closely. There is much more information in his article, including names of the arbitration panelists and how they individually ruled in these cases.

(Posted February 13, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200213.htm

GoDaddy Makes Blockbuster Acquisition of Uniregistry's Registrar & Market and  Frank Schilling's Domain Portfolio  

In our annual State of the Industry Cover Story published two weeks ago, one of the most frequently made predictions by our panel of experts was that we would see much more consolidation in the industry in 2020. That point could not have been hammered home harder than it was today when GoDaddy announced a jaw-dropping deal to acquire Uniregistry's registrar operations, their domain marketplace and Uniregistry Founder Frank Schilling's entire Name Administration domain portfolio of more than 350,000 domains. GoDaddy also acquired Brandsight in the transaction, an add that will help them better support enterprise-level customers. The price paid for those assets was not revealed.

Schilling, a domain industry pioneer who was profiled in two DNJournal Cover Stories, one in 2007 and another in 2012, will retain Uniregistry's new gTLD registry operations that includes 26 TLDS as well as the backend platform serving those extensions and others. So, Schilling will remain an active participant in the industry after the deal with GoDaddy closes in Q2-2020 if all goes as planned. 

For Uniregistry customers, things will continue as they are now with no major staff or operational changes expected over the balance of the year as the two firms work through what is expected to be a smooth transition. 

 

Frank Schilling
Uniregistry Founder 

Paul Nicks
GM & VP, Aftermarket, GoDaddy.com

GoDaddy Vice President Paul Nicks, noted "Uniregistry is unique in that domain investors built it from the ground up so their products and services have always catered to the domain investor community, This acquisition reinforces GoDaddy's commitment to domain investors. Combining Uniregistry's solutions and incredible knowledge with our platform will help investors succeed and advance future innovations for them."

Nicks was also excited about acquiring Schilling's domain portfolio, adding, "Frank is one of the smartest and savviest investors, and his portfolio shows that knowledge and acumen. We can't wait to bring these to market for our customers with competitive prices."

After new GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani delivered the keynote address at the 2020 NamesCon Global conference on January 30, I wrote that he had made a very strong personal commitment to championing the

domain investor/developer community that I felt was extremely good news for our industry going forward. GoDaddy's purchase of Uniregistry quickly underscored that (as does Paul Nicks' decision to serve the community as a Board Member of the Internet Commerce Association, the non-profit organization that protects domain registrant's rights). The company has the money and the marketing skill to dramatically elevate recognition of what we do in mainstream business circles, and to portray it in a more accurate light than has often been the case among those with little understanding of the business.

Frank Schilling, who built Uniregistry to be a custom-tailored platform to meet the needs of domain investors and developers is also confident that GoDaddy is the right company to carry what he and his team created forward. Schilling said, "One of the mantras we repeat around the Uniregistry office is that we dream about building a company of permanence and value. When I started speaking with GoDaddy, it became clear how passionate we both are about our customers and this industry. I realized the best way to fulfill our mantras and dreams was to join with Godaddy. I'm so proud of the team we've put together. It is incredibly rewarding to give them the opportunity to scale our solutions with GoDaddy's customers. The years ahead will truly be awesome!"

(Posted February 11, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
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Voices Rising Against Proposed ICANN Agreement With Verisign That Would Push .Com Prices Up 31% in 4 Years

ICANN is again catching flak (on top of the incoming fire over the pending .org registry sale) by proposing that .com registry operator, Verisign, be allowed to raise the wholesale price of the world's most popular TLD 7% annually over each of the final four years of their current six-year contract. If approved, the current wholesale price to registrars of $7.85 would soar 31% to $10.26 by 2024.

Domain registrants already pay well above the wholesale price, of course, as registrars have to mark up prices to cover their overheard and marketing costs and make enough of a profit to stay in business. Big changes in the wholesale rate force them to pass price increases on to you. That doesn't make customers happy, so many leading registrars are strongly opposing the proposed agreement.


You can make your feelings known too, as ICANN is accepting comments from the public  through Friday, February 14. The Internet Commerce Association (ICA), the non-profit group that fights for domain registrant rights, has created a tool that makes it easy for anyone to file a comment. As of this writing, over 1,300 comments have been files and the number is growing quickly.

The ICA released this statement about the proposed agreement:

"Verisign is the sole-source supplier of .com domain names at the wholesale level, giving them an effective monopoly. When you register or renew a domain name through your registrar, such as GoDaddy or NetworkSolutions, $7.85 of your registration or renewal payment goes to Verisign. The actual cost to Verisign to provide the expensive infrastructure and the management of the registry has been estimated at between $2.50 to $2.90 per domain name per year. Other registries have said they can offer the same services at lower cost. But ICANN does not allow other companies the opportunity to bid to operate the .com registry, for ICANN has given Verisign the perpetual right to operate the .com registry - meaning forever!

As the cost to operate the .com registry drops lower and lower, Verisign's profits are already rising higher and higher. Verisign already enjoys one of the highest profit margins of any company in the world.  A further price increase is not justified. Yet ICANN staff has determined that Verisign should be able to increase prices on .com registrants by 7% per year from the current $7.85 to $10.26 after four years. This will impose hundreds of millions of dollars of added expense on .com registrants - simply to benefit Verisign.
 
ICANN is supposed to act in the public interest, and be responsive to public comment. This comment period is your opportunity to share your views with ICANN, whether you think the price increases are justified or unjustified. You can learn more about the issue in the following articles:

Circle IDVerisign's Attempt to Increase its Fees Still Unjustified Despite Diversionary Tactic

Circle IDHundreds of Millions of Dollars at Stake as .COM Price Freeze Set to Expire

Domain Name Wire.Com prices are going up after Verisign pays off ICANN

ICANN says it wants more public feedback. Here's your chance! Take 30 seconds to let ICANN know what you think.

(Posted February 10, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
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GoDaddy's Afternic Honored the Domain Sales Platform's Longest Running Partnerships at an Awards Ceremony in Austin

There was a lot going on in Austin, Texas with the 2020 NamesCon Global conference in town last week. In addition to all of the official conference activities, several of the industry's leading companies staged parties and special events of their own to thank their clients and partners. 

I thought GoDaddy's popular Afternic domain sales platform put a cool new spin on one of those. It came as part of a reception for the company's new CEO, Aman Bhutani, that was held at GoDaddy's 12th floor offices in downtown Austin Wednesday afternoon, January 29, 2020 (the opening day of NamesCon Global).

Afternic Chief Revnue Officer Bob Mountain (left) and GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani recognized Afternic's longest Tenured Partnerships in an awards ceremony at the GoDaddy office in Austin, Texas January 29, 2020.

With some 100 guests on hand, Mr. Bhutani and Afternic Chief Revenue Officer Bob Mountain handed out special awards to the six companies that have been Afternic's longest running partners, with all dating back ten years or longer.

Above: Bob Mountain, getting ready to announce the winners of the awards for having the longest Afternic Longest Tenured Partnerships. Four of the six had representatives in town for NamesCon Global who were there to personally accept their awards. Trophies were sent to the other two, TierraNet, who has been a partner since 2007 (the longest tenure of the six) and Name.com, who has been a partner since 2010.

Above & below: The longest tenured partners with representatives at the presentation were Web.com and DomainTools.com whose partnerships both started in 2008. Above, Web.com SVP of Partnerships Barbara Sher accepted for her company, an industry giant whose brands include Network Solutions, Register.com, NameJet and SnapNames, among others. Below, DomainTools.com Principal & Director Ammar Kubba with his company's award. Ammar is a well-known serial entrepreneur with many other business interests as well. 

Above: New GoDaddy CEO Aman Bhutani, who joined the company in September, made a great first impression on attendees. It was telling that he spent much of the time that had been set aside to put him in the spotlight diverting it to partners instead. Bhutani also made it clear that he would be a champion for domain investors, developers and small business entrepreneurs which was certainly music to everyone's ears.

Completing the quartet of partners honored in person were DirectNic/Fabulous.com Director of Business Development Mike Robertson (above), a partner since 2009, and Dynadot.com CEO Todd Han (below) whose partnership dates back to 2010 (Todd started has a great back story too, having started his popular registrar in his garage back in 2002)!

We live in a busy world and work in a constantly changing industry but there should always be time to stop, say thank you, and show gratitude to those who have helped you along the way. Good job Bob, Aman and your team at GoDaddy/Afternic. 

(Posted February 7, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
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NamesCon Global 2020: The Complete Conference Recap with Photos from Every Session

The NamesCon Global 2020 conference is now history! The 7th annual edition of the industry's marquee event was held January 29 - February 1 at the Omni Hotel in Austin, Texas. It was the show's first time in Austin after the first six editions were staged in Las Vegas. 

While the conference was underway we posted daily photos and highlights in The Lowdown, but with the show's busy day/night schedule we didn't have time to write about all of NamesCon's dozens of business sessions. So, after the show ended, we set about putting together this complete conference recap that has photos from every one of the week's business sessions, along with the session topics and speaker's names. We also added new, previously unseen photos from the Exhibit Hall that are sprinkled throughout the report that has also been posted on our Home Page. We hope you will enjoy this look back at a very big week in the Lone Star State's capital city. It's the next best thing to having been there yourself!

NamesCon President & CEO 
Soeren von Varchmin
(right)
 
and DNJournal's Ron Jackson

(Posted February 5, 2020)

Photos & Highlights from NamesCon Global 2020's Fun Day That Closed the Conference Saturday

The 2020 NamesCon Global conference concluded Saturday (February 1) with a Fun Day at Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden in Austin, Texas. The casual outdoor networking event under bright sunny skies was the perfect way to wind up a productive week in the Lone Star State's capital city. It followed three busy days filled with dozens of business sessions and social events at the Omni Hotel. You can see the opening day photos and highlights from Wednesday here, those from day two Thursday here, and the ones from day three Friday here.  

With around the clock activity while the show was underway we didn't have time to post photos and information from every session but, now that we are back home, 

that is exactly what we are working on now with plans to release the complete review Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. In the meantime, here is look at the aptly named Fun Day that officially brought down the curtain on the 7th annual edition of NamesCon Global Saturday:

Above: (left to right) NamesCon Global attendees Krinal Mehta, Prakhar Bindal and Aishwin Vikhona ready to get Fun Day underway Saturday (February 1).

Above: The closing day event was held at Austin's immensely popular Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden, running all day from 10am to 5pm. NamesCon arranged a large private area for attendees on the elevated patio overlooking at the far right that overlooks the public area in the foreground.

Below: In addition to live music from a top notch Austin band, attendees enjoyed a loaded buffet with a variety of sausages, side dishes and desserts, as well as access to an astounding variety of draft beers and cold drinks that came in handy as the temperature zoomed well into the 70s by afternoon.

Above: With the sun out and not a cloud in the sky, tables in the shade were popular. Those settled in at this one are (clockwise from the left): Hani Armstrong, Marlon Phillips and Dave Roberts (all from ProtectedParking.com), as well as Susan Lawrence, Adrienne Phillips and Diana Jackson.

Below: The best part of the day was a chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones. (Left to right) Howard Neu, Ammar Kubba and Ron Jackson first met in the domain business over 15 years ago and have remained fellow domain aficionados and personal friends ever since.

While the music, food and drinks were great, the conversations were even better. Above, Tess Diaz and Alan Hack do some catching up in front of the nearly 200 draft beer taps at Banger's. Below, Morgan Linton (left) and George Verdugo were also busy comparing notes.

Above: NamesCon Global attracts domain investors and developers from all of the world. India, which has one the world's most thriving domain communities, is always well represented at the show. Left to right above are Mayur Saparia (who was making his first trip to the U.S.), Manish Lunja, Deepak Daftari (a long-time friend of ours who helped welcome us to India when we first visited there), "honorary Indian" Bennie Sparkman (an industry veteran and close friend of Deepak's who is actually a Texan!) and Ritesh Singh.

We stayed at Fun Day all the way to the end. It's always hard to say goodbye to good friends that you likely won't see again for months or even a full year when NamesCon Global rolls around again,  but it is certainly a blessing every time we get to do it.

Above & below: With NamesCon Global keeping us busy, we didn't get around to seeing a lot of other things the city of Austin offers, so right after the Fun Day event ended, Diana and I, along with Howard & Barbara Neu (above), grabbed a ride over to the Texas State Capitol building, It is a remarkable place that many travel  guides recommend people see for its rich history and ornate architecture. The Capital grounds are a park in themselves, filled with beautiful statues and monuments. The elaborate one below celebrates the wde variety of early settlers that played a role in developing the territory that became America's biggest state.

Above: A view of the Texas State Capital Dome Saturday. Looking up from the rotunda inside also provides a stunning view. This was NamesCon Global's first time in Austin (after six years in Las Vegas) and we thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace. It is a great city in a great state. Everyone on the NamesCon management team told us they loved it too and they are leaning to returning to Austin again next year. However, as they do every year, they will now take a bit of time to reflect on this year's event, listen to attendee feedback and research all of the options. They have already decided the dates will remain in January for 2021 and they expect to announce the location in the near future. In the meantime, NamesCon fans can look forward to the NamesCon Europe conference coming up August 6-8, 2020 in Budapest, Hungary.

Finally, a big thank you to NamesCon President & CEO Soeren von Varchmin, Head of Operations Helga Neumer and their entire team for producing another outstanding event that made every minute in Austin time well spent!

(Posted February 3, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
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Day 3 Photos & Highlights from the NamesCon Global 2020 Conference Friday in Austin, Texas

The 2020 NamesCon Global conference continued in Austin, Texas Friday (January 31) with the final day of business, but a full Fun Day still ahead on Saturday (you can see the opening day photos and highlights from Wednesday here and those from day two Thursday here). While the show is underway we are posting a selection of photos from each day to give you a sampling of how the event is unfolding. Early next week we will be putting together a complete review with photos from every business session held through the entire week, as well as the social events that we attended. In the meantime, here is a capsule view of a busy day 3 at NamesCon Global 2020:

Above & below: The Friday business day at the Omni Hotel in dowtown Austin began with a Keynote discussion with Phenom.com Founder James Booth, one of the most successful domain brokers in the industry. Bill Sweetman (Name Ninja) conducted the insightful interview with Booth (below) who, earlier in the week, received the Escrow.com Award as the #2 broker worldwide in total sales closed on the Escrow platform.

Above & below: The Friday business day continued nine more business sessions, concluding with a 4pm panel discussion on Transparency of of the Secondary Market (below) that featured, left to right, moderator Braden Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing.com), Amanda Waltz (Saw.com), Deepak Daftari (eSiksha.com) and Joe Styler (GoDaddy).

Above: While business sessions were going on upstairs, the company booths set up in the first floor Exhibit Hall were welcoming a steady flow of visitors. At the Name.com booth Diana Jackson picked up a cool T-Shirt that might come in handy for the outdoor Fun Day Saturday when it is supposed to be sunny and warm.

The Exhibit Hall also featured a table tennis Game Area sponsored by ESQwire.com. Above (left to right) are ESQWire attorneys Jason Schaeffer and Ari Goldberger with veteran domain investor/developer Steven Kaziyev. All three know how to handle a ping pong paddle but are a little loose with the rules. Below Ari and Jason ganged up on Steven in a two against one match!

At 5pm, the business portion of NamesCon Global 2020 officially closed with some final comments from NamesCon President and CEO Soeren von Varchmin (above). Soeren said the NamesCon team loved Austin and are strongly leaning toward bringing it back to the Lone Star State's capital city next year, but will also consider attendee feedback and all options before making a final decision and announcing the January 2021 show dates and location. Between now and then they will be putting on the NamesCon Europe conference in Budapest, Hungary August 6-8, 2020.

Above & below: While the business day was over, the fun was not, especially for the industry's professional women who got together for the annual Women in Domaining networking event held Friday evening in the Afilias Lounge. Kudos to Lisa Box and Susan Lawrence for organizing another outstanding event.

Above: Three of the most well-known women in the domain industry reconnected at the Women in Domaining event.  Left to right are Nancy Bianchi (Above.com/Trellian), Andee Hill (ICANN) and veteran conference promoter Barbara Neu.

Below: At the same time the Women in Domaining event was going on, Uniregistry was hosting a social event just a block away at the Elk Lounge, close enough for guests to do both. Here, Truc Tran, who came in from Norway, caught up with IP attorney Karen Bernstein at the Uni event.

Above (L to R): NamesCon CEO Soeren von Varchmin, attorney Howard Neu, Dr. Gregg McNair and Ilze Kaulins-Plakacz also joined the crowd at the Elk Lounge.

Below: I caught up with a lot my favorite people as well. It has been awhile, so it was especially good to see industry veteran Vern Jurovich (left), who flew in from Vancouver, Canada.

Now it's on to the final day of NamesCon Global 2020, a Saturday Fun Day devoted to informal networking at Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden in Austin. We'll have photos and highlights from that event for you in my next post.

(Posted February 1, 2020) To refer others to the post above only (and not the full Lowdown column) you can use this URL:
https://www.dnjournal.com/archive/lowdown/2020/dailyposts/20200201.htm

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