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Verisign on 2016 expectations and IDNs

April 29, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

Company warns Q4 might see a drop, says more IDNs on the way.

Verisign held its quarterly investor call yesterday after announcing another quarter of better-than-usual results.

The company added 2.65 million net additions in .com and .net, above its predicted 1.5 to 2.0 million net adds.

After predicting normalization of registration numbers from China, company executives explained that demand from China was about one million names higher than expected.

Verisign again predicts normalization in Q2 and anticipates between 0.6 million and 1.1 million net adds in the quarter.

One analyst questioned if Verisign might be wrong about this normalization again. The company reiterated that it expects numbers to return to normal this quarter.

The company also warned that it still anticipates that deletions might exceed registrations in Q4, the one year anniversary of 2015’s big gains.

On the Internationalized Domain Name front, the company said it will begin the rollout of Korean transliterations of .com and .net in Q2, and it may release two or three more IDN strings in the second half of the year.

One notable thing not discussed: Verisign’s plans to monetize its intellectual property.

It seems the company has either put these plans on the backburner, or it’s being careful not to discuss them much while it works to extend its .com contract.



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Verisign signs deal with China’s CNNIC for real name verification

April 29, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

Group that operates .CN will assist Verisign with identity verification of .com and .net registrants.

Verisign has signed an agreement with China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) for real name verification.

Back in December, I wrote about how the Chinese government was going to begin enforcing real name verification on registrants of .com and .net domain names.

This requires domain name registrars in China to obtain Real Name Verification and Domain Name Verification for each newly-registered or transferred .com/.net domain name. They also have to obtain this for existing domain names within 45 days after they auto renew.

According to a release by CNNIC:

CNNIC will provide domain name verification service to “.com” and other domain names that are registered through Verisign’s domestic registrars. Once the service is on board, in the circumstance that users register .cn and .com at the same time, there is no need for them to provide repeated information, which is simplified the registration process.

CNNIC, which falls under the control of the Chinese government, provides its verification services at no cost.

How nice of them.
 



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Verisign has a new term for dropcatchers: scavengers

April 28, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

XYZ/Verisign dispute goes on as “scavengers” snap up expired domains.

Verisign has filed a reply (pdf) to XYZ’s brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals over the .com giant’s false advertising charges.

As you may recall, Verisign says XYZ falsely inflated its success and disparaged .com.

Verisign’s reply brief mainly rehashes old arguments that the two adversaries obviously disagree about.

For example, Verisign claims 70% of .com availability searches succeed. XYZ claims 99% fail.

The difference is that XYZ is including drop catching services hammering Verisign’s servers to try to get domains when they drop.

Verisign argues these shouldn’t count. In an amusing statement, its lawyers call people buying dropping domain names “professional domain name scavengers.”

So the case goes on.

I’m not a lawyer, and Verisign might have some arguments that the lower court erred. But some things still make me scratch my head. I’m still confused as to how Verisign is arguing that XYZ’s disparagement of .com hurt sales of .net.



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Verisign has another amazing quarter

April 28, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

.Com and .net continue to surge for Verisign.

Verisign (NYSE:VRSN) reported Q1 results after the bell today.

It had another strong quarter, topping its forecast for net domain name additions.

It expected 1.5 to 2.0 million net adds in the quarter. It hit 2.65 million, suggesting that the surge in Chinese domain investing in Q4 carried over. (Its Q4 net adds were a stunning 4.6 million.)

It also processed 10.0 million new .com and .net transactions. That’s down from the 12.2 million in Q4, but still well above the typical 8.0-9.0 million.

From a renewal standpoint, the company announced that the final .com and .net renewal rate for the fourth quarter of 2015 was 73.3 percent compared with 72.5 percent for the same quarter in 2014.



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GoDaddy files patents for Domain Title and Fast Transfer

April 28, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

Company wants patents for verifying a domain’s title history and for its Fast Transfer system.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published two patent applications today that were filed by GoDaddy.

The first is for a way to determine title of a domain name and the likelihood that it has a bad title, either due to theft or ongoing disputes.

Application number 14/522467 (pdf) describes a system that evaluates the history of a domain name to determine if it has a clean title. For example:

The domain history software may use this historical data to determine any breaks in the chain of title by, for example: 1) comparing the domain registration dates with the domain with the domain expiration dates and identifying non-sequential periods where the next registration date does not immediately follow the previous expiration date; 2) ambiguities in which registrant controls the domain name (e.g., because of privacy services, such as GODADDY’s DOMAINS BY PROXY, or a listed domain name registrant with a history of dishonest domain registration activity); 3) inactive status indicating periods of inactivity; and/or 4) changes in an email address as an access credential for the transfer codes and/or authorization for domain name administration.

The system could also look for unresolved domain disputes (such as a UDRP) and crawl the content of a site to see if it might have been seized by a government agency because of illegal activity.

GoDaddy’s patent application explains that this service could be used to review domain names being offered for sale on the aftermarket.

GoDaddy policy wonk James Bladel is listed as the inventor.

The second application, 14/824804 (pdf), is a continuation of previous GoDaddy patent applications. It describes Afternic’s system of automatic fast transfer between a seller and buyer when a domain name is transacted through its aftermarket platform. (Sedo has a similar system.)

This application is similar to two others just published, 14/805378 for “Losing registrar selling a domain name for a seller” and 14/805374 for “gaining registrar purchasing a domain name for a buyer”.

Sarah Ptalis, Paul Nicks, Frank Taylor (first application) and Mark Haseltine (latter two applications) are listed as the inventors.



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Sedo GreatDomains auction ends shortly; at least 18 domains will sell

April 28, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

A Peru domain name is at the top of the list.

Domains in Sedo’s monthly GreatDomains auction close at noon EDT today. 18 domain names have met their reserves with about 90 minutes to go.

8.pe is leading the pack with a $10,099 bid after 29 bids. .Pe is the country code for Peru, one we don’t often see in domain name auctions. 8 is, of course, a favorite number of Chinese domain name investors.

Wabe.com has the second highest bid at 2,550 EUR. This is a high-quality, pronounceable four letter domain name, despite not having obvious appeal to Chinese domain name investors.

Gum.net is below its reserve of somewhere under $5,000. This is a great .net domain name for building a brand. It has a nice ring to it, and is one of those rare instances in which I think .net can be part of the brand.

You can see a full list of domains, their current bids and reserve ranges here.



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ICANN warns new TLD owners, Emerson bows out

April 28, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

200 new top level domain names are nearing deadline.

emersonICANN has warned new top level domain name companies to get a move on, and one .brand owner has terminated its new TLD ambitions.

In a post on its website, ICANN reminded contracted registries that they have 12 months to delegate their top level domain after executing their contract.

While 950 new domain names have been delegated into the root zone, 200 laggards are facing the 12-month deadline between now and August. Failure to meet this deadline can result in termination of the registry agreement. ICANN said it will grant extensions as long as the registry operator is making reasonable progress toward delegation.

Meanwhile, Emerson Electric Co (NYSE:EMR) has abandoned its plans to operate the .emerson top level domain name. The company notified ICANN (pdf) last week that it is terminating its registry agreement.



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Let the Cruz – Fiorina domain name registrations begin…

April 27, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

People are registering some crappy domain names for a potential Republican ticket.

Ted Cruz made the unusual step today of naming a vice presidential candidate should he get his party’s nomination.

Cruz said former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who dropped out of the Presidential race in February, would be his vice president.

Immediately, punters took to GoDaddy and other registrars to snap up possible domain names for the pair, no matter how bad available domain combinations are.

CruzFiorina.com was registered over a year ago, so that leaves people fighting over mostly worthless domain names such as:

  • tedcruzcarlyfiorinapresident2016.com
  • tedcruzcarlyfiorinapresident.com
  • cruz-fiorina-2016.com
  • carlyfiorinaforvicepresident.com
  • cruzfiorinapresident2016.com
  • cruzfiorinapresident.com
  • cruz-fiorina-2016.com

All of these domain names were actually registered today.

Interestingly, CruzFiorina2016.com recently expired and is at auction. It’s at $55 with six days to go.



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What domain names eBay and GoFundMe bought last week

April 27, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

eBay and GoFundMe contribute to big sales week at Sedo.

ebay-logoTwo big names are on this week’s Domain Name Wire end user sales report. eBay picked up WhatsYourThing.com, and GoFundMe bought a country code domain matching its web address.

Jobs.bg made several more large domain purchases and REIMO returned to the aftermarket, too.

Overall, it was a great week for Sedo with nearly $3 million in sales. This means that the company had at least one big sale that wasn’t publicly disclosed.

Here are some end user domain name purchases from the past week:

(You can view previous lists like this here. If you’d like to learn how to sell your domain names like these on Sedo, download this report.)

MikiHouse.com $224,224 – children’s clothing company Miki Shoko forked out big bucks for the .com to match its ccTLDs.

ITjobs.eu €55,000 and ITjobs.it €13,350 – who else other than Jobs.bg? In addition to other expensive domains, it recently paid €58,000 for ITjobs.de.

Cars.ch €10,000 – Jobs.bg also bought this domain.

WhiteHorse.com $16,000 – lending company WhiteHorse Capital, which owns WhiteHorseCapital.com.

StrategicMarketer.com $12,000 – online marketing Real Strategic, Inc.

WCOF.com $4,500 – WCMMA, LLC, which stands for World Cup of MMA. So this domain stands for “World Cup Of”.

WhatsYourThing.com $4,500 – eBay. My guess is it’s for a new marketing campaign.

Career.kz $4,000 – the owner of HR.com.ge, a jobs board.

Nutravet.com $3,750 – animal healthcare products company Nutravet, which uses Nutravet.co.uk.

GoFundMe.in $3,500 – donation site GoFundMe.com picked up this Indian ccTLD.

AFXGroup.com $3,499 – investment company AFXCapital.

CamperVansForSale.co.uk £2,725 – RV company REIMO bought another domain name.

PCE.eu £2,500 – Pelleting Consumables Europe B.V. bought its acronym.

GroundControlSystems.com €2,500 – Bauer 360 owns a couple companies in the bicycle business. This must be for a new product or business.

TreeTops.co.uk £2,148 – Tree Tops Caravan Park Ltd in the UK.

Blood-Cancer.com $2,000 – Health Union, LLC operates health sites such as Migraine.com, ChrohnsDisease.com and MultipleSclerosis.net.



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MMX releases 2015 report, discusses go-forward strategy

April 27, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off

Company continues to restructure its business under new leadership.

Top level domain name company MMX (Minds + Machines) released its audited annual results report (pdf) today, providing color on what’s going on in its business.

In a nutshell, while billings and revenue increased last year, operating expenses still outstripped them.

Revenue hit $6.3 million for the year, compared to $1.9 million in 2014, as the company rolled out more top level domains.

Billings, which do not account for revenue recognition of domains as a subscription product, were $7.9 million in 2015 compared to $5 million in 2014.

Although operating expenses were down in 2015 compared to 2014, they were still $12.2 million.

MMX (LSE:MMX) has built a cash cushion from private domain name auctions, but this will not continue forever.

This is why the company made sweeping changes this year, ousting its founding CEO and deciding to outsource its backend registry operations and shutter its domain registrar. The company will now focus solely on being a new TLD wholesaler.

The board was also trimmed, and Guy Elliott, non-executive Chairman, noted that “a culture of over-compensation in a period of low revenues has been stopped.”

The company hopes to see benefits from the cost-cutting as well as partnerships in the second half of this year.

MMX CEO Toby Hall noted:

As a pure-play registry, it will allow MMX to be more clearly benchmarked against fellow pure-play registries at a time when we see technical back-end providers increasingly having to operate in an ever-more price competitive, commoditized environment with the inevitable downward pressure on margins.

Indeed, I suspect there will be downward pressure on backend registry service pricing over the next few years. I suspect Public Interest Registry (.org) will save significantly on its annual $30 million+ bill.

MMX also noted that Nominet’s existing integrations with registrars for .uk will help it offers its domains through more registrars.

Concerning the registrar side of the business, Hall noted:

In relation to our registrar, the registrar models that are winning are sophisticated capital intensive and require a focus and specialization of their own; others are far better placed than ourselves to succeed in that market. More importantly, as an owner of top-level domains, we want to be actively partnering with the retail channel (registrars) internationally –
not creating the perception that we are competing with them.

MMX expects to save $2 million by outsourcing its backend registry services and dropping its registrar operation. However, the company doesn’t anticipate migrating before Q4.

The report makes it clear that MMX might be a buyer or seller of TLD assets when the right opportunities present themselves.

Here are some other highlights from the company’s report:

  • Targeting annualized operational savings of $5.5 million compared to highs of 2015.
  • Launch .VIP in May, .Boston in H2
  • Additional sales and marketing staff for .law
  • Company has repurchased over $10 million in its shares
  • June 2015 peak headcount 61 down to 43 at year end
  • Under resourced in registrar development and marketing support teams, so looking to grow
  • Some sales effort shifting from outbound sales to stimulating third party channels to drive inbound leads


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