2016-07-27

New gTLD dot WEB 'Last Resort' ICANN Auction: and the Winner Is?

UPDATE August 1, 2016: Verisign Statement Regarding .WEB Auction Results: "VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSN), a global leader in domain names and internet security, today announced the following information pertaining to the .WEB top-level domain (TLD): The Company entered into an agreement with Nu Dot Co LLC wherein the Company provided funds for Nu Dot Co's bid for the .WEB TLD. We are pleased that the Nu Dot Co bid was successful. We anticipate that Nu Dot Co will execute the .WEB Registry Agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and will then seek to assign the Registry Agreement to Verisign upon consent from ICANN. As the most experienced and reliable registry operator, Verisign is well-positioned to widely distribute .WEB. Our expertise, infrastructure, and partner relationships will enable us to quickly grow .WEB and establish it as an additional option for registrants worldwide in the growing TLD marketplace. Our track record of over 19 years of uninterrupted availability means that businesses and individuals using .WEB as their online identity can be confident of being reliably found online. And these users, along with our global distribution partners, will benefit from the many new domain name choices that .WEB will offer." (emphasis added)

UPDATE August 2, 2016: Total Net Auction Proceeds now held by ICANN $233,455,563 (including .WEB).
Original post starts here:
"An auction will be facilitated by Power Auctions LLC on 27 July 2016 to resolve string contention for one new generic top-level domain (gTLD) contention set: .WEB/.WEBS. This set is an indirect contention set consisting of both the WEB and WEBS strings. An indirect contention set is when two applications are both in direct contention with a third application, but not with one another. Eight applicants have completed all necessary prerequisites to participate in the “method of last resort” auction, and the auction will proceed on 27 July 2016. Within seven days after the completion of the auction, the results, including a results report, will be posted to the Auction Results page of the New gTLD Microsite. In addition, the Auction Proceeds page will be updated within seven days to reflect the proceeds and costs related to the Auction."--ICANN
UPDATE July 28, 2016ICANN reports *NU DOT CO LLC is the Winning Bidder of .WEB with a winning price of $135 million,  and in addition "The Application in the “B” position was eliminated after Round 10, causing the Contention Set to divide and causing the Application of Vistaprint Limited (for .WEBS) to be deemed a Winning Application." See embed below:



*Nu Dot Co may have an agreement to assign its contractual rights in .WEB to Verisign, registry operator of .COM and .NET, based upon a report in DomainNameWire.com. The Verisign 10-Q filed July 28, 2016, disclosed:
"Subsequent to June 30, 2016, the Company incurred a commitment to pay approximately $130.0 million for the future assignment of contractual rights, which are subject to third-party consent. The payment is expected to occur during the third quarter of 2016." FORM 10-Q - VeriSign, Inc.
If true, the third-party referred to above, would be ICANN. In addition, all of this may have some bearing on whether Ruby Glen (Donuts) decides to amend its complaint and continue its U.S. District Court case--see New gTLD WEB, Ruby Glen, LLC v. ICANN, Complaint & TRO Request | DomainMondo.com.

Is $135 million too much to pay for new gTLD .WEB? That depends. As Warren Buffett says, "Price is what you pay, value is what you get."  Finally, to put this in historical perspective:
Verisign acquires Network Solutions for $21B - March 7, 2000"VeriSign Inc. agreed to acquire Network Solutions Inc. for $21 billion in stock."
8 Applicants (for more info on each applicant see the bottom of this post):
  1. Nu Dot Co
  2. Charleston Road Registry (Google)
  3. Web.com
  4. DotWeb (Radix)
  5. Ruby Glen (Donuts)
  6. Afilias
  7. Schlund Technologies
  8. Vistaprint (WEBS applicant)
Contention Set WEB/WEBS (source: ICANN.org)
How we got here--an abbreviated history--there's a long history to new gTLD .WEB and not just beginning in 2012 with ICANN's expansion of gTLDs from 22 generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) to more than 1000:
  • New gTLD WEB, Ruby Glen, LLC v. ICANN, Complaint & TRO Request | DomainMondo.com (2016)
  • Vistaprint Loses New gTLD dot WEBS IRP, dot WEB SCO, ICANN Prevails | DomainMondo.com (2015)
  • IMAGE ONLINE DESIGN, INC. [IOD] vs. ICANN (2013) (pdf) see also IMAGE ONLINE DESIGN, INC. v. INTERNET CORPORATION FOR ASSIGNED NAMES AND NUMBERS | Leagle.com"... On November 16, 2000, ICANN's Board of Directors issued its decision on new TLDs, identifying seven selected for the "proof of concept phase." The TLD .WEB was not selected. (Id.) At some time during the deliberations in 2000, the then Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Vincent Cerf stated, "I'm still interested in IOD. They've worked with .WEB for some time. To assign that to someone else given that they're actually functioning makes me uneasy ..."
  • A recent comment on CircleID.com: ".web may not be usable in California ... IOD had an operational .web registry here in California dating from a very long time ago ... Whether you believe in competing root systems or not, .web by IOD was an operating business here in California well before ICANN, and it has existing contractual relationships. One (such as myself) might consider anyone operating another .web named service in California as an interference with my existing contractual relationships ... in which an established, older business has established a common law use of a name in business. One would hope that rather than stomping on pre-existing, and quite legal, prior business uses of .web in California that the new aspirant would reach out to the prior vendor and users and seek an accommodation or release."--Karl Auerbach
See also: New gTLD Program Auctions | ICANN New gTLDs | ICANN.org
and for more info on each applicant, click the link(s) below:

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