2016-08-21

News Review: IANA Stewardship Transition, Vint Cerf Retrospective (video)

"The U.S. government was the origin of this project [the internet], it started in the Defense Department, and I am very proud, not only of the Defense Department but other parts of the U.S. government including the National Science Foundation, and now NTIA, for persistently stepping away from control over this system and turning it over to a multistakeholder operation … this [the IANA transition] is the last step--Vint Cerf, August 17, 2016, see this week's FEATURE below.

Domain Mondo's review and look ahead [pdf], starting first with the macro view, the big picture, after cutting through all the noise:

•  Soros Doubles Down on Bet Against the S&P 500: According to WSJ.com, famed billionaire investor George Soros is shifting his fund’s focus back to the "big-picture economic global view that earned him recognition as he steadfastly continues to warn of a coming financial crisis, much as he did leading to the 2007 crash."  He continues to unwind his exposure to China "which he’s placed at the center of the next financial storm" along with commodities. He has a large derivative position on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF, the most widely traded fund that tracks the broad S&P 500 stock index. See also "Legendary Trader" Paul Tudor Jones Emerges As Latest Mega Bear With Record Surge In S&P Puts | ZeroHedge.com (Aug 19, 2016). NYSEARCA: SPY chart below:
NYSEARCA: SPY
•  Tencent (tencent.com) is now China's most valuable tech company, passing Alibaba (alibabagroup.com). Tencent's total revenue for Q2 2016, including its apps QQ (QQ.com) and WeChat (WeChat.com), came in at $5.38 billion. Read more: Tencent Surges; Becomes China's Most Valuable Tech Company | TheStreet.com. and Tencent Performance Highlights in Q2 2016 | ChinaInternetWatch.com: "WeChat monthly active users reached 806 million in Q2 2016." Note:
"China’s internet is fundamentally different from the one used in much of the rest of the world ...'It’s a closed environment, and you have to be quite different to compete in that market.' Two decades after Beijing began walling off its homegrown internet from the rest of the planet, the digital world has split between China and everybody else."--NYTimes.com (emphasis added)
•  2016 Olympics end August 21 but Brazil already knows Hosting The Olympics Is A Terrible Investment | FiveThirtyEight.com"Research has repeatedly shown that in most cases the Olympics are a money loser for cities, particularly those in developing nations where the cost-benefit proposition tends to skew even worse."

•  U.S. Market:

•  Election 2016 Update: As usual in U.S. politics, things don't get serious until after Labor Day (September 5). Best to avoid the media "noise" until then. Jeffrey Gundlach predicted in January that Trump would win the Presidency, and hasn't backed off that prediction despite recent polling numbers and a pro-Clinton, anti-Trump, establishment media onslaught for weeks now. In fact, Gundlach now says:
"The centerpiece of my thesis on Trump remains that Hillary Clinton is an incredibly bad candidate. She will have plenty of stumbles in the stretch run and, at the end of the day, WikiLeaks is going to take her down. Julian Assange wants to time the releases of these horrific emails to coincide with maximum damage and I think there is plenty more to come. Say what you want about Trump, about his volatility and his inconsistency, Hillary will be deemed to be the unacceptable candidate. All Trump has to do is be as steady as possible and she will fall by the wayside."
Trump's biggest challenge? "Convince the country, as he had almost done by Cleveland, that he is an acceptable, indeed, a preferable alternative"--Don't Count Yer Clintons Yet - It Ain't Over Till It's Over | ZeroHedge.com. Trump doesn't have to match Clinton in fundraising, he has enough funding (Mercer, Adelson et al) to be competitive. He doesn't have to match the Clinton political operation, he has enough political operatives via the RNC, and Kellyanne Conway et al, to be competitive. Trump's biggest challenge (other than biased media* coverage) may be Trump. Read more here. [UPDATE August 21, 2016: Trump (45%) now leads Clinton (43%) in the Presidential Race according to the USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll | latimes.com.]
*Media bias update August 21, 2016: American journalism is collapsing before our eyes | NYPost.com: "The largest broadcast networks — CBS, NBC and ABC — and major newspapers like The New York Times and Washington Post have jettisoned all pretense of fair play. Their fierce determination to keep Trump out of the Oval Office has no precedent."  See also Glenn Greenwald on Donald Trump, the DNC hack, and a new McCarthyism | slate.com:"The U.S. media is essentially 100 percent united, vehemently, against Trump, and preventing him from being elected president."

• FEATURE: IANA Stewardship Transition - Full Speed Ahead!
The Obama administration (NTIA) made it crystal clear this week that the IANA functions contract will expire effective October 1, 2016, notwithstanding dissenting voices in Congress and elsewhere (see below). Read more at NTIA Tells ICANN: IANA Functions Contract Will Expire October 1, 2016. Vint Cerf gave a retrospective on ICANN and the IANA transition in a Bloomberg West interview this week:


Video above starting at 12:10: Vint Cerf Talks the Future of the Internet on 'Bloomberg West'--Google Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf, often referred to as the "father of the Internet," on Bloomberg West, August 17, 2016, to discuss ICANN and the IANA Stewardship Transition, including the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) decision to allow the IANA functions contract expire October 1, 2016. 

•  Last Call for the Open Internet | WSJ.com by L. Gordon Crovitz: "... The administration naively thought crafting an alternative to U.S. oversight, which it dismissed as “largely clerical,” would be easy. By now it’s clear Mr. Obama’s solution to the nonproblem of U.S. protection is too half-baked for anyone who cares about the free and open internet." See also NTIA Violates Federal Law with IANA Transition | TechPolicyCorner.org.

•  ICANN the Machine… | CircleID.com by Shaul Jolles, Dot Registry CEO"ICANN's new gTLD expansion is really quite an ingenious ploy to grow the once small California non-profit into an unstoppable machine, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which soon plans to finally be free from any external oversight. I have no doubt that ICANN pats itself on the back for pulling the wool over so many eyes, including stakeholders, new gTLD applicants, politicians, and the global general public ..." (emphasis added)

•  Dot Registry IRP Declaration: Of the 18 Independent Review Process (IRP) proceedings brought to date to hold ICANN accountable for its actions, only three claimants have succeeded: ICM Registry (.XXX), DCA Trust (.AFRICA), and Dot Registry (.LLC, .INC and .LLP). All three were represented by Dechert LLP (dechert.com) lawyers, who recently wrote: Accountability and Transition in ICANN’s New gTLD Program | Lexology.com"... the importance of the Dot Registry Panel's decision lies in its recognition that ICANN, as the regulator of the Internet, a global resource, must be held accountable for its actions. Today, ICANN is pressing for the privilege to oversee Internet governance without oversight by the U.S. or any government. This privilege comes with immense responsibility and requires accountability. As ICANN enters into the next phase of its transition away from U.S. government oversight, the global internet community will be watching to see whether ICANN undertakes much needed reforms." (emphasis added)

•  A Lasting Legacy of Fadi's Follies: 1) Why does ICANN need 3 HubsL.A. is a large multi-ethnic 24x7 world-class metro, more than capable of staffing (even remotely) a 24-hour support center for the global internet community; 2) Why is one of those "hubs" located in Istanbul, Turkey, of all places?
Turkey to Release Tens of Thousands of Prisoners to Make Room for Coup Suspects | NYTimes.com"Turkey said on Wednesday that it would empty its prisons of tens of thousands of criminals to make room for the wave of journalists, teachers, lawyers and judges rounded up in connection with last month’s failed coup."  Economist.com reports Turkey’s drift away from the West is accelerating as the government and most Turks believe Europe and the U.S. had something to do with the Turkish coup attempt. See also: A Parallel State | n+1 | nplusonemag.com: "Over the past ten years, the prospect of a coup has been the [Turkish] government’s pretext for suppressing every conceivable opposition."
Brick-and-mortar "hubs" for organizations like ICANN are inefficient relics of the twentieth century, indicative of a hierarchical organization or the narcissistic empire-builder mentality of its leadership, rather than the needs of a streamlined, flat organization, connected globally through the cloud, empowering its stakeholders and workers to engage and work remotely throughout the world, without need for edifices or facades.

•  Cannell Capital Sells 19,881 Shares in new gTLD registry operator Rightside Group Ltd.  An amended 13D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission dated August 12, 2016, shows J. Carlo Cannell‘s Cannell Capital has lowered its stake in Rightside Group Ltd. (NASDAQ: NAME) to 1.21 million shares which account for 6.29% of the company’s outstanding stock. The fund previously held 1.23 million common shares, according to its latest 13F filing for the reporting period of June 30. Cannell Capital stated in the 13D filing:
"Mr. Cannell reserves the right to discuss various views and opinions with respect to the Company [Rightside] and its business plans with the Company or the members of its senior management. The discussion of such views and opinions may extend from ordinary day-to-day business operations to matters such as nominees for representation on the Company’s board of directors, senior management decisions and extraordinary business transactions. Mr. Cannell reserves the right to take such action as he may deem necessary from time to time to seek to maximize the value of the Shares. Such actions may include, but may not necessarily be limited to, pursuit of strategic initiatives to enhance shareholder value."
Remember Carlo Cannell's letter to Rightside ($NAME) earlier this year? It's a classic:
"While I am a believer in new gTLDs, it is going to be many years before their revenue in any way materially approaches the revenue potential of our registrar operations. In my view, NAME’s registrar has become like a crazy aunt kept in the basement, one that you refuse to adequately clothe or feed, but who steadfastly spins straw into gold used to subsidize a stable of largely substandard new gTLDs such as .democrat, .dance, .army, .navy, and .airforce. Most of these new gTLDs are irrelevant and will never be sold in material volumes. NAME is holding back the growth potential of your registrar by pushing garbage extensions to a user base that quietly knows better."--J. Carlo Cannell, Cannell Capital LLC, February 19, 2016 (emphasis and link added)
Rightside (NASDAQ: NAME) shares are down -9.66% since August 11, closing Friday at $10.85.

•  ICANN's Competition, Consumer Trust, and Consumer Choice Review Team (CCT-RT) will be meeting in Vienna, Austria, on 29-30 August 2016. The CCT-RT face-to-face meeting agenda includes an Analysis Group economic study that is examining pricing trends and competition indicators in the Global Domain Name market, the Nielsen registrant survey that is studying consumers' perceived trust and choice in the Domain Name System, and AM Global's interviews conducted with applicants. Join in-person to observe the meeting or online via Adobe Connect. More info here and on the wiki.

•  No comments close this coming week at ICANN.

•  Tech News:
  1. The Twilight of China’s Online Consumer Paradise | Bloomberg.com: "... Consumer loyalty means nothing in China ... volume of private equity and venture capital flowing into China’s tech sector, as well as investments in the country as a whole, peaked last fall ... “The slowdown is a global phenomenon, and it’s still ongoing: we’re in the middle of the winter,” says Kai-fu Lee, founder of prominent VC firm Sinovation Ventures in Beijing. “The Chinese market has a tendency to accelerate uptrends as well as downtrends: When things are trendy, they will double or triple quickly – and then when they’re out of favor, they will drop like a brick.”"
  2. Google’s High-Speed Web Plans Hit Snags | WSJ.com"After initial rollouts prove costly, Google Fiber rethinks how to deliver connections in metro areas ... Now the company is hoping to use wireless technology to connect homes, rather than cables, in about a dozen new metro areas, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas, according to people familiar with the company’s plans. As a result Alphabet has suspended projects in San Jose, Calif., and Portland, Ore."
  3. Uber and Lyft Replace Public Transportation in Florida and Colorado: "... the Uber partnership and partial ride subsidization proved significantly cheaper than maintaining a bus system. In its pilot program, the town pays for 50 percent of the cost of a ride (up to $3 per rider) and estimates the program will cost $40,000 a year--a quarter of what it cost to run two bus lines that were replaced by the arrangement. Lyft is set to launch a similar partnership in Centennial, Colorado, later this month."--POLITICO.com
  4. Chrome starts retiring Flash in favor of HTML5 | ArsTechnica.com"Non-visible Flash content blocked in September; Flash fully deprecated by December."
  5. Back to the Future: Nokia Android phones are comingsee BusinessInsider.com and Meet the man charged with reviving Nokia's phone brand | CNET.com.
Five most popular posts (# of pageviews Sun-Sat) this week on DomainMondo.com:
  1. News Review: ICANN Says It Is Ready for the IANA Transition, Is It Really?
  2. NTIA Tells ICANN: IANA Functions Contract Will Expire October 1, 2016
  3. Afilias Challenges New gTLD WEB Auction Results in Letter to ICANN
  4. Jet.com Deal: A $3 Billion Acquihire Botox Shot For Walmart? (videos)
  5. Facebook At War With Ad Blockers, But Ad Blocking Trend Increasing
10 Other Reading Recommendations:
  1. Market Manipulation? A $35 Billion Stock, an SEC Halt and Suspicions of Manipulation | Bloomberg.com: "Neuromama ... began to draw more scrutiny this year after its paper value more than quadrupled to $35 billion on scant volume. Before its suspension, the market cap of Neuromama, which was based in southwest Siberia before moving to a beach community near Tijuana, Mexico, was greater than even Tesla Motors Inc."
  2. Growth Hacking? How Lending Club’s Biggest Fanboy Uncovered Shady Loans | Bloomberg.com: "... Silicon Valley tends to venerate mildly deceptive tactics when they’re used in service of a scrappy upstart—it’s known as “growth hacking” ...  loans containing seemingly misleading information, tied to SEC-registered securities. Maybe it wasn’t fraud, but it wasn’t exactly transparent ..."
  3. I Hire Engineers At Google--Here's What I Look For (And Why) | FastCompany.com"... Yes, engineers need to be able to code ... on your resume, instead of listing your GPA (which we no longer use to determine candidacy), give us details about your experience at hackathons, coding competitions, or programming assignments at work. Just because it isn't an academic credential doesn't make it any less relevant. Not only does this create a more textured portrait of your abilities, it’s a great way to prove your engineering chops if you majored in sociology, for instance ..."
  4. Obama Administration Wants to Give You Money to Learn to Code. Here's Why That's a Problem | Bloomberg.com"Let me get this straight: They're going to partner untested for-profit entities with institutions with a proven track record of doing poorly by their students, and the Department of Education is expecting excellent outcomes?" said Alexander Holt, policy analyst at Washington-based think tank New America."
  5. Dinosaur Watch: Broadcast & Cable TV - TV Ratings: Rio [Olympics] Hits Competition Low on Friday | HollywoodReporter.com"... numbers are still down from London four years ago, but NBC Sports continues to see record returns from [online] streaming ..."
  6. 'Walmart destroyed retail' | BusinessInsider.com"The root of the problem, according to Kniffen, is that there are simply too many physical retail stores in the US. Kniffen isn't alone. Last week, Macy's CFO, Karen Hoguet, said in an earnings call that 'this country is over-stored, given evolving customer shopping habits.'" See also Walmart’s Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy | Bloomberg.com.
  7. Bill Gross Warns "Central Bankers Are Destroying The Engine Of The Real Economy" | ZeroHedge.com
  8. Dollar Vans: The Economist.com"In parts of New York City, if you know what to look for, you will find a vast and quasi-legal transport network operating in plain sight. It is made up of “dollar vans”, private 15-passenger vehicles that serve neighbourhoods lacking robust public transport ..."
  9. UK’s Nuclear Future Threatened by Chinese Espionage, Brexit | WolfStreet.com: "The cancellation of Hinkley Point could crush EDF and the French nuclear industry – or is Britain’s move a Brexit negotiating ploy?"
  10. Virtu Never Loses (Well, Almost Never) in Quest to Upend Markets | Bloomberg.com"Virtu and other relative newcomers, including Jump Trading, DRW Holdings, and Citadel Securities, as well as smaller, nimbler enterprises, are filling voids created by new regulations and technologies."
-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo 

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