Blind-spot bias, the smarter you are, the worse it is

This should give anyone pause --

So, You Think You’re Rational?: "People... think the other side is biased into making bad decisions. They rarely assume that they, themselves, might be just as biased. Psychologists have a name for this: blind-spot bias. It's a bias that prevents us from realizing how biased we are. And it is pervasive in investing. Behavioral finance is one of the fastest-growing branches of psychology... Because people can reason and tell themselves stories, they're able to make up all kinds of excuses to justify their mistakes – even the same mistakes they criticize others for... Ironically, the smarter you are, the worse this gets... Why? Because the smarter you are, the more elaborate and sophisticated stories you can tell yourself to justify your bad decisions. An average investor could never convince themselves that leveraging your balance sheet 30-to-1 with subprime mortgages was a good idea. You need to be Harvard stupid to do that. The more rational we think we are, the more self-deluding we engage in, and the more biased we become.... Those least susceptible to biases share a common trait: they're skeptical of their own beliefs... George Soros once said: "I think that my conceptual framework, which basically emphasizes the importance of misconceptions, makes me extremely critical of my own decisions. I know that I am bound to be wrong, and therefore am more likely to correct my own mistakes."..." (read more at link above)

Lesson for ICANN and the domain name industry? An average domain name registrant or investor could never convince themselves that to "explode the internet" from just 22 gTLDs to more than 1300 gTLDs in a first-round roll-out was a good idea. Only donuts or someone Stanford stupid could do that.


Internet Ungovernance Forum, September 4-5

graphic of Internet Ungovernance Forum, September 4-5 A Strategy Workshop for Internet Activists

Are you confused about all the complicated and overlapping institutions that claim to be working on Internet governance?

Are you unsure about how activists concerned with local censorship and surveillance fit into these global structures?

Are you wondering how the IGF, ICANN, IETF, the ITU, the CSTD, Netmundial are relevant to your collective engagements?

Internet Ungovernance Forum, September 4-5, Istanbul Bilgi University, Santral Campus:

Internet Ungovernance Forum: "This workshop is for activists that want to collectively develop strategies for action at the local or international level on the topics of surveillance, privacy, the securitization of the Internet and censorship. We expect activists from all disciplinary/non-disciplined backgrounds to join us. A commitment to collective action and curiosity about internet governance processes is a plus. We ask those interested in participating to send an email to ungovWorkshop@alternatifbilisim.org by 1st of September, 2014. Please include in the email a short biography and a list of topics you would like to see discussed at the workshop." (more information and registration at link above)


LIVE video: World Economic Forum NETmundial Initiative

Scheduled start time Thursday for the first session 11 am (Geneva/CEST) - 5 am EDT (US) - event time converter

World Economic Forum, NETmundial Initiative - Initial Scoping Meeting
Initiative Brief / FAQ / Agenda / Participants

A broad-based, multi-stakeholder approach to the governance of the internet is essential to social progress and economic development. Inspired by the NETmundial meeting in Sao Paolo, Brazil in April 2014, the World Economic Forum is hosting a meeting of leaders from government, business, civil society and academia in Geneva on Thursday August 28 to develop ways to help carry forward the spirit of NETmundial through further dialogue and concrete cooperation.

NETmundial Initiative - Press Conference  14.00 CEST, 28th Aug 2014

NETmundial Initiative - Debrief with Founding Partners 16.30 CEST, 28th Aug 2014


The Web We Want (video)

Web We Want: " . . . In the next few months, three more heavyweight global meetings dedicated to the subject of Internet governance will take place. First up is the WEF/ICANN NETmundial Initiative* on August 28 in Geneva, in which I [Anne Jellema, Web Foundation CEO] and Web Foundation founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee, will participate. Shortly thereafter, the global Internet Governance Forum gets underway in Istanbul, where we’ll be participating in multiple panels and side events. And in late October and early November, the ITU Plenipotentiary will be held in South Korea...."

More info: https://webwewant.org and https://webfoundation.org/2014/08/the-fall-of-internet-governance/

*WEF/ICANN NETmundial Initiative meeting Thursday, August 28 to be streamed LIVE at expvc.com starting at 11 am (Geneva/CEST) / 5 am EDT (US) / event time converter


New gTLDs? No One Is Interested

Google Trends - Web Search interest: new gtld - Worldwide, Past 12 months:
graphic of Google Trends - Web Search interest: new gtld - Worldwide, Past 12 months

New gTLDs? (new generic Top-Level Domain Name Extensions) - No One Is Interested

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post: Domain Mondo | Are Domain Names Dinosaurs?: "....Need a web page? Facebook or Google or Amazon or Tumblr or Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest (and many, many others) will gladly provide you a web page with its own distinct URL, on an easy to use platform with lots of traffic, accessible on any device, including mobile devices through a native app, all for free! So the real competition for new gTLDS are Facebook et al and apps...."


Are Domain Names Dinosaurs?

Google Trends - Web Search interest: domain name - Worldwide, 2004 - present:
graphic of Domain Name Google Search Trend 2004-present
"Domain Name" - Google Search Trend 2004-present 
Having questioned from the beginning all the hype and hokum that accompanied ICANN's new gTLD domain name extensions program, for example, how about this headline: Dawn of a New Internet Era by ICANN's Akram Atallah--no hyperbole there!--it's hard not to engage in a little schadenfreude at this point. The disappointing new gTLD registration numbers (particularly after you throw out the registry land grabs, the free domain name giveaways, the purely defensive registrations, and rampant cybersquatting) are self-evident. Even some of the biggest new gTLD cheerleaders in the domaining sphere are beginning to question the whole thing: here's a recent domainer blog headline: New TLDs: is it an awareness, acceptance or demand issue?

And for those affiliated with the new gTLD registry operators, stress and desperation have now come into full view. One has even resorted to advertising on a LA public transit bus (BTW the farthest thing from sexy in LA is a public transit bus--I know, I've lived there). What's next, advertising new gTLD domain names in public restrooms? LOL! Maybe we are beginning to get an idea of what Akram really meant by "Dawn of a New Internet Era."

The sad thing is the new gTLD proponents "don't get it" and never have. Most are hopelessly lost in their outdated ways of thinking. It's 2014 people! The poor unfortunates trapped on the new gTLDs bus apparently think .COM is their great enemy, that if ONLY they could tear down and destroy .COM, their problems would all go away. What they don't understand is that .COM is not their competition. .COM is in a different class altogether than the new gTLD domain name extensions. In the domain name marketplace, new gTLDS are competing in the second tier domain name space which is dominated by .NET, .ORG and ccTLDs. And even more challenging, domain names altogether are increasingly irrelevant. Need a web page? Facebook or Google or Amazon or Tumblr or Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest (and many, many others) will gladly provide you a web page with its own distinct URL, on an easy to use platform with lots of traffic, accessible on any device, including mobile devices through a native app, all for free! So the real competition for new gTLDS are Facebook et al, and apps--a "Billion-Dollar Trend" that alone is a major domain name killer--

Billion-Dollar Trends - Business Insider: "... Chris Dixon argues that people have basically stopped using the mobile Web and now exclusively use apps..." [Note to the new gTLDs' promoters--it's a waste of time and money to tell people to use "http://____.newgTLD" on their iPhones (because the Safari browser won't navigate to new gTLD domain names otherwise)--consumers aren't going there anyway, they are on their apps, plus using "http://___" on the side of a bus in 2014 looks stupid! Where have you been living the past 10 years, some remote island?]

With native apps, a website is optional for developers, they can just list the app on the app store--

The decline of the mobile web | chris dixon's blog: "... Apps are heavily controlled by the dominant app stores owners, Apple and Google. Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues. Most worrisome: they reject entire classes of apps without stated reasons or allowing for recourse... Sadly, this is where we’re headed on mobile...."

And for most app makers, the news is getting worse--

Most smartphone users download zero apps per month - Quartz: "Almost all smartphone owners use apps, and a “staggering 42% of all app time spent on smartphones occurs on the individual’s single most used app,” comScore reports" (see also the 25 most popular mobile apps in America).

So who needs a website, or particularly, who needs a new gTLD domain name website? If it's direct navigation you are seeking, or a recognized, trusted domain name you want, most people know a .COM domain name is best--the "gold standard"--(or if you are outside the U.S. and only seek a national audience, then a ccTLD might do). See: Why dot com will always be the gold standard of domain names - YouTube

Final note: is it really that hopeless for the mobile Web? Well, there is something coming, but it won't save the new gTLDs. Nothing will save the new gTLDs--most will fail. Why? Because the whole new gTLDs process was dysfunctional, driven by greed and conflicts of interest, without any consideration of demand, need, or the public interest. Even Jon Postel, by himself, would have done a better job than ICANN with new gTLDs. What would Jon have done? Well it depends. Jon wrote in 1994: "In the Domain Name System (DNS) naming of computers there is a hierarchy of names. The root of system is unnamed. There are a set of what are called "top-level domain names" (TLDs). These are the generic TLDs (EDU, COM, NET, ORG, GOV, MIL, and INT), and the two letter country codes from ISO-3166. It is extremely unlikely that any other TLDs will be created." Later, John Gilmore said, "Jon’s initial design would have expanded to dozens of TLDs long before ICANN, and increased them by 50 or 100 a year until demand slacked off" (source: It’s time for ICANN to go - Salon.com July 2002). Demand? Jon was thinking about real demand--from actual domain name registrants who wanted to build something, not cybersquatters or speculators nor wholesale speculation and pre-emptive registration of thousands of domain names by registry-registrar operators or affiliates. It is obvious in the wanton expansion from just 22 gTLDs to more than 1000 gTLDs in just a few months, ICANN didn't really think about any of this nor many other things, or just didn't care. After all, as has been noted, when it comes to ICANN and the new gTLDs, it's all about the money.

ClaimICANN New gTLDs: "One of ICANN's key commitments is to promote competition in the domain name market while ensuring Internet security and stability."

Fact: ICANN has damaged the competitive domain name marketplace, and degraded Internet security and stability, by its incompetent and irresponsible flooding of the domain name ecosystem with more than 1000 new gTLDs [see ICANN: "the internet will explode"].

--John Poole, Domain Mondo


The Golden Google Decade, from IPO to Cash Cow (video)

Google's Golden Decade: From IPO to Cash Cow: Video - Bloomberg:

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Ten years ago, Google started trading as a public company on the Nasdaq. Since then, the shares have never fallen below the IPO price. Bloomberg West anchor Emily Chang has a look back at Google's first decade and what may be to come. (Source: Bloomberg Aug 19)


Free Domain Names, Supply and Demand, ICANN

.XYZ, .BERLIN, .TK, .ML, .GA .CF.... will there be more free domain name programs to come?

supply and demand - Vox: "... on the internet, there's no scarcity: there's an endless amount of everything available to everyone. The laws of supply and demand don't work terribly well when there's infinite supply. [Taylor] Swift is right that "important, rare things are valuable," but she's failed to understand that the idea of rarity simply doesn't exist in the digital marketplace....."

And so it is with domain names, except for the global business preference and habits of users worldwide to use the .com extension. But understanding the intention of ICANN to continue to create thousands of new gTLDs, for almost anyone willing to fork over $185,000, and "if" the new gTLD hucksters are right and eventually users somehow remember hundreds to thousands of new domain name extensions--why pay for a domain name? Why not just get a free domain name?

In fact here is a supplier of free domain names now (by the way, this is not a sponsored post):

According to its YouTube video "about" text, Freenom is a provider of free domain names; from its office in Amsterdam it "manages more than 19 million domains." It is the Registry Operator of .TK, .ML, .GA and .CF - and "many more top level domains to come. Join our team and join us to disrupt the domain name industry!"  (Video published on Sep 13, 2013)

Caveat Emptor--read the fine print--http://www.freenom.com/en/freeandpaiddomains.html

And surely Google Domains is thinking about a program of free domain names in extensions it controls as long as you park the name, or develop it, on a Google platform embedded with Adsense advertising?

But then again, seeing how desperate some of the new gTLD registries are becoming, is it out of the realm of possibility that one or more of the new gTLD registry operators will soon actually pay large brands (or even small brands) to move one or more their websites to a new gTLD domain? Talk about adding insult to injury, imagine the following response to such an offer: "I wouldn't have that new gTLD domain name for my website even if you paid me to take it!" In fact, one very astute domain name investor has already said as much.


ICANN, Internet Governance, World Economic Forum, Fadi Chehadé Leads

Kudos to ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehadé for leading the way--

An Initiative for Action - ICANN - by Fadi Chehadé: (18 Aug 2014) "Back in May, I wrote a blog titled "Turning Talk into Action after NETmundial." In it, I promised to work tirelessly on coalescing governments, private sector and civil society to operationalize the NETmundial roadmap. I did not make this promise lightly. This promise reflects my follow-through on the directive given to me by the ICANN Board of Directors – to begin the process of shifting some of ICANN's recent role in Internet governance to a broader group. This process will allow ICANN, and me, to share further the leadership role within the Internet ecosystem, and may take until the end of year before we can fully transition ICANN's role from leader to participant. This process is now underway. ICANN will soon join several countries and multistakeholder organizations to begin to build a global initiative for Internet cooperation and governance with an emphasis on action. While the particulars of the initiative are still being finalized, I wanted to share with you – in advance of the formal announcement from the World Economic Forum and its partners from government, industry, academia and civil society – why I think this is good for ICANN and for the greater Internet ecosystem...."(emphasis added) (read more at the link above) 

More info on the meeting (NETmundial Initiative), August 28, 2014, at the World Economic Forum headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland:
Brief_NETmundial_Initiative.pdf *
Agenda_NETmundial_Initiative.pdf *

*Documents source: Internet Governance Transparency Initiative: "... an anonymous publishing site for Internet Governance related documents. Several diplomatic processes are currently underway to decide key questions about the future of the internet. Many documents can be found on the websites of the these processes: NetMundial, IANA transition, ITU Plenipotentiary, WSIS+10. But not all documents are made available to the public. Particularly those under negotiation. We believe full transparency is a fundamental value for democratic processes and informed decision making..."


Yahoo! A Private Equity Fund or Operating Company?

Yahoo! squandered goodwill and destroyed the value of its own brand in the largest online market in the world. (source infra)

Yahoo! China According To Susan Decker - Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) | Seeking Alpha: "... Porter Erisman, a former Alibaba Vice President who recently released a documentary about his time working inside the company called Crocodile in the Yangtze offers this thought on how to assess Decker's legacy and her account of Yahoo!'s success:
"How Yahoo! performed as an operator and how they performed as an investor are two different questions. If we evaluate Yahoo! as an operator (both inside China and outside,) I think we can all agree that their performance was poor. If we evaluate Yahoo! as an investor, we should take into account their entire history of investments and not just cherry-pick one investment that paid off. On the whole, Yahoo! did well as an investor over the years (due to Alibaba) despite some obvious failures. But people investing in Yahoo! didn't do so because they believed it was a private equity fund. Luckily, the Alibaba investment turned out well and made up for Yahoo!'s failures on an operating level."


Alibaba IPO Roadshow (video), Top Chinese Internet Companies

Alibaba Said to Target IPO Roadshow Starting Sept. 3 in Asia: Video - Bloomberg:
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Two weeks, three continents, and 100 meetings. That -- and founder Jack Ma celebrating his 50th birthday on the road -- is what it will take for Alibaba to pull off the largest IPO in U.S. history. Bomoda CEO Brian Buchwald and Bloomberg’s Leslie Picker speak on “Bloomberg West.” (Source: Bloomberg Aug. 13)

Top Chinese Web Companies (1 month Alexa traffic rank globally)
 #5 Baidu.com
 #8 Qq.com (TenCent)
#11 Taobao.com
#12 Sina.com.cn
#15 Weibo.com
#16 Hao123.com (Baidu)
#20 Sohu.com


China, Internet Companies, Censorship

China Government Expands Internet Oversight: Video - Bloomberg

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The Chinese government continues to expand its oversight of the Internet, putting pressure on Chinese Web companies including Tencent Holdings and Alibaba Group Holding, which are required by the government to help censor content. Bloomberg's Brendan Scott has more on "First Up." (Source: Bloomberg, Aug 15)

For all the wild-eyed speculators thinking they are going to make a fortune in new Chinese IDN gTLDs, you better do some due diligence, including what makes for a good domain name market (clue: censorship does not help), and what is actually going on in China (see video above, and story at link below, excerpt follows):

Xi Remakes Internet in China’s Year of Blogging Dangerously - Bloomberg: Last August, President Xi Jinping gathered his propaganda chiefs in Beijing to rally them against a force that long vexed China’s ruling party: the Internet... Within days, Chinese authorities began their most severe online crackdown yet. Famous bloggers were jailed. The government instituted new punishments for defamatory social-media posts. State media officials were setting up portals to influence the country’s more than 630 million Web users. In the year since Xi’s Aug. 19 speech, China’s Internet -- already one of the world’s most heavily censored -- has grown even more tightly controlled, undercutting the idea that new technologies will lead to more open political debate and free speech. The government continues to expand its oversight, announcing new arrests and restrictions. The crackdown has put pressure on Chinese Web companies including Tencent Holdings Ltd. (700) and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (BABA), which are required by the government to help censor content.... (read more at link above)


ICANN, IANA, US Government, Internet Stewardship

The US Department of Commerce's NTIA really had no choice once the Snowden revelations were known--among many things the world learned was that the US government took Syria offline, corrupted routers, breached networks, and worldwide violated individuals' privacy--leaving a perception globally that the US government itself (NSA et al) is one of the biggest threats facing the internet. And after ICANN had signaled its intention in February, 2014, to create a "parallel legal structure" in Switzerland, the timing of the NTIA announcement was only accelerated (the NTIA decision, by that time, had already been made or was inevitable). Interestingly, and thankfully, the US government never claimed "ownership" of the internet (hence no legislative approval is required to transition the "IANA functions") but at most, exercised a "stewardship" role, most of which had been delegated to ICANN by contract with the US Department of Commerce. Therefore we now have the enduring principle that the internet is not something to be "owned" by any government or corporation, and that any authority exercised in reference to the internet is proper only when exercised in accordance with already established stewardship principles and fiduciary standards.

NSA Monitoring Practices Face Stiff Opposition | Statista: Infographic: NSA Monitoring Practices Face Stiff Opposition | Statista

So where do we go from here?

ICANN President and CEO Fadi Chehadé: "The function which the U.S. has today, which is a very minimal function, of oversight" [will be] "passed on to ICANN through its multistakeholder accountability mechanisms." [Characterizing the U.S. role as one of stewardship, he observed], "It is time for the U.S. to consider that the stewardship is ready to be passed to the stakeholders, as it has always envisaged."(source: If the Stakeholders Already Control the Internet, Why NETmundial and the IANA Transition?)

There are many problems and issues yet to be sorted out. Here are just 2--#1: ICANN, at present, really doesn't have ANY effective "multistakeholder accountability mechanisms"--ICANN, by virtue of its legal structure (a California non-profit corporation with no membership), really acts top-down, by and through its own self-selected Board of Directors, to whom it is solely accountable (other than that US Department of Commerce "oversight" which has been almost non-existent)--which is why we hear of GAC advice etc.,-- the various "stakeholder groups" within ICANN are in an advisory capacity only to the Board of Directors which makes ALL final decisions, none of which are really reviewable by the stakeholders nor any other group or entity (even the US Department of Commerce has taken a "hands off" approach).

#2 How can the global internet community continue to allow a California non-profit corporation (chosen solely by the US government), with no membership and a self-selected Board of Directors, have total control and authority over the global internet DNS, including root zone and IANA functions? ICANN has already admitted in a legal filing in a US Court, that the safety and security of ccTLDs of all the nations of the world is dependent upon the US government having its IANA oversight pursuant to its contract with ICANN. Once the US government is "out of the picture" then any American lawyer can attach (through US legal processes) any ccTLD in the world? This is unacceptable.

So here is the reality as I see it--(1) there is really only one nation in the world currently equipped, legally and structurally, going forward, to be the host nation for whatever emerges as the global internet DNS and root zone authority (or authorities)--Switzerland [if you do not understand why Switzerland, start by reading this by Dr. Richard Hill.] In this regard, Fadi Chehadé et al were actually on the right track back in February. (2) The legal structure(s) for both the IANA functions and other functions performed currently by ICANN need to be reviewed, discussed, negotiated, and changed. In this regard, the French Senate report and Just Net Coalition proposal are on the right track.

Therefore, a word to the wise: the odds of things in the world of internet governance staying the same as they have been, are very slim. And at this point, the continuing launch of hundreds of new gTLDs is little more now than a nuisance and distraction, or complication, to the serious and important work of the IANA functions transition and ICANN accountability processes [and I bet Fadi et al wish they had the new gTLDs decision to do over again (not that they would ever admit it), or that ICANN had waited or at least scaled back the new gTLDs as the FTC suggested in 2011].

So I will look forward, and make a few more suggestions in addition to what I had previously proposed:

1. ICANN should move prudently (as part of, or as an outcome of, its ongoing processes on accountability and IANA) to reincorporate under Swiss law with immunity as a recognized international organization [Dr. Hill, supra, can give you the particulars]. The membership of the new ICANN would be all domain name registrants (see Just Net Coalition proposal, supra), who along with various advisory bodies inclusive of the entire global internet community, would constitute an ICANN General Assembly.

2. Pursuant to the foregoing, ICANN should transition its global headquarters to Geneva (which will also serve as the regional hub for Europe, Africa, and the Middle East), maintain its Singapore hub for Asia (including Australia and New Zealand), close its Los Angeles and Istanbul offices, and open a regional hub for the Americas in Miami.

3. ICANN should formally recognize and acknowledge, at a minimum, the legacy gTLD .com (and perhaps .net and .org also) as a fully regulated gTLD, in the public interest, including limitations on registration and renewal fees beyond November, 2018, by virtue of its market dominance and the exclusive monopoly that was granted in perpetuity to its registrar Verisign.

4. All technical functions including the "IANA functions," should be separated from ICANN into a separate IANA--"Internet Assigned Numbers Authority"--operating free from all governmental oversight or interference, with full immunity under Swiss law, governed by Trustees selected by ICANN, the technical community (IETF et al), gTLD registrars, and ccTLD registrars.The authority of the new ICANN and the new IANA should be recognized and ratified by a new international treaty setting forth the governing principles for the stewardship roles of IANA and ICANN, respectively, over the internet. Here the US government will have the leverage to help establish, in perpetuity, principles for internet freedom in return for "letting go."

5. Finally, there should be a review/appeal process and authority (which should include government representatives) for ICANN decisions, along the lines suggested by the French Senate Report.

--John Poole, Domain Mondo


How Big A Failure Are New gTLDs? One Picture Tells All

ICANN's delusional ideas about innovation, competition, and consumer choice notwithstanding, the hard, cold reality of the disastrous new gTLDs domain names program, is now becoming clear--here's one picture that tells all:

Chart of New gTLD Websites Categorization
thumbnail source: Versign Study (click to go to original)

  • 41 percent of all new gTLD domain names are serving up PPC websites. A PPC website contains little user-generated content and almost exclusively advertising links. 
  • 17% of all new gTLD domain names fail to resolve to a website (return "error")
  • 10% redirect to another website
  • 10% have no content to classify
  • 8% holding page
  • 11% "other"
  • Only 3 percent of domain names registered in new gTLDs contain business websites!

Read more about the above referenced study here.

And of course, ICANN is getting ready for a second round of new gTLDs that the world neither wants nor needs. But hey, ICANN is making $185,000 (plus renewals) for each new gTLD from which it can expand staff, pay exorbitant salaries and benefits and lavish contractor fees, and hold junkets at luxury hotels worldwide! So that's how to profit off a non-profit corporation with no membership, and a self-selected Board of Directors, with no accountability nor oversight!


The Three Tiers of Top-Level Domains (TLDs)

So thanks to ICANN and its new gTLDs program, we now have three tiers of Domain Names (TLD domain name extensions) in the domain name ecosystem:

First Tier Top-Level Domain Names: .COM domain names
Second Tier Top-Level Domains: .NET, .ORG, ccTLDs and other open, unrestricted gTLDs
Third Tier Top-Level Domains: everything that's left--restricted, branded, closed, etc.--TLDs

A check with RegistrarStats and a review of Domain Name Sales reports confirms the above--you can't argue with the market consensus as to valuations and sales!

And so, unfortunately, we have to endure for several months more, the now boring, mundane release of countless additional new gTLDs still to come (yawn), second tier and third tier. Here's an example of a new third tier TLD:

The 'Land Rush' Has Begun: Register Your .nyc Domain | Gale A. Brewer - Manhattan Borough President: "... All registrants are required to have a physical street address in New York City (with no P.O. boxes permitted)... By October 7, if nobody else has requested the same address, it's yours. If there are multiple requests for the same address, an auction will be held to determine who will own it. A successful domain name registered during Land rush will cost $30 plus $20 for each year it registers the name... We don't want the .nyc portal to become a corporate playground; it should enable local organizations and businesses to have a presence online. The bodega, the corner pizza place, the 24-hour locksmith, the family-run shoe repair service -- that's what this is about..." --great, every corner pizza joint in New York City needs its own .nyc domain name (even if it costs more than double what you would pay to register a dot COM domain name)--such a deal!


Xiaomi Getting a Lot of Things Right, including domain names (video)

Xiaomi Is Getting a Lot of Things Right: Lashford: Video - Bloomberg:
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Rachel Lashford, vice president of analysis at Canalys, discusses Xiaomi's market share gains in Asia with Rishaad Salamat on "On The Move Asia." (Source: Bloomberg Aug 6)

domains: xiaomi.com (resolves to mi.com for Chinese market); mi.com (global market -- including English language for US)

Management - mi.com: "Mr. Hugo Barra Vice President Hugo Barra is responsible for Xiaomi's Global division and is in charge of the company's products and operations in all markets outside of Mainland China. Before joining Xiaomi in 2013, Hugo Barra was Vice President of Android Product Management at Google. Prior to joining the Android team, he worked for Google in London as Director of Product Management for Mobile, a role he had since joining the company in 2008. Hugo is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with bachelors and masters degrees in computer science, electrical engineering and management science."

Xiaomi looks to brand for international markets with Mi.com"Ever since Xiaomi hired Hugo Barra away from Google's Android team, it was made clear that the company had designs on expanding its brand reach around the world. While the company has expanded a bit, it has taken its first real step in reaching a Western market by purchasing the Mi.com domain. The simple fact of the matter is that Xiaomi is a tough name for many to remember... So, Xiaomi has decided to simplify its URL branding to just Mi.com.  Impressively, Xiaomi dropped a record $3.6 million on the domain name. This makes it the most expensive domain purchased by a Chinese company, and the 17th most expensive URL of all time."


VeriSign .COM Registry Agreement, What Happens After November 2018?

Bar Chart comparison of Number of Domain Names Registered at top 20 gTLDs - August 8, 2014
Registrations per Top 20 gTLDs - August 8, 2014
How dominant is Verisign's .COM Top-Level Domain (TLD)? Look at the chart at right of the top 20 gTLDs -- at scale most other gTLDs (generic Top-Level Domains) don't even "show up." Just check the stats at RegistrarStats.

VeriSign - The Misunderstood Monopoly - VeriSign, Inc. (NASDAQ:VRSN) | Seeking Alpha: "Continuity, Exclusivity, and Profitability of .com Registry Agreement: In 2000, VRSN [VeriSign] acquired the core registry functions that would form the basis for VRSN's registry services division. The .com Registry Agreement (Agreement) is a periodically renewed contract between VRSN, ICANN, and the United States Department of Commerce. The last iteration of the Agreement was signed on November 29, 2012 and provides the following key points: VRSN will remain the exclusive registry operator for domain names in the .com TLD through November 30, 2018. The price of a .com domain name shall not exceed $7.85 for the term of the Agreement. Just in case the other terms weren't favorable enough, VRSN and their lawyers have seemingly managed to effectuate this Agreement into perpetuity... VRSN's exclusive monopoly on .com registration will remain in place unless 1) a court or arbitrator rules that VRSN has defaulted on their part of the Agreement; AND 2) despite said ruling, VRSN still fails to take steps necessary to fix their default!...."

OK, the Verisign .com Registry Agreement is an "exclusive monopoly"--that is why we need regulation of dot com registration and renewal fees. As Versign's Founder, Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President D. James Bidzos said on July 24, 2014-- ".com, which is really sort of a well-known place where people register domain names for business"--the dot com extension is unique and in a category by itself. Just how dominant is dot COM among ALL domain name extensions? Look at the graphic above again. Adding to the possible future conflicts of interest at play here--Verisign is the root zone administrator under agreements with the US government and ICANN (for which Verisign currently receives no fee).

The Verisign dot Com agreement is actually two agreements: one with ICANN; and the other with the US Department of Commerce which is the one that limits the Verisign dot Com fees as set forth above. And we know from experience just how inept and incompetent ICANN is in regard to domain name registrants and registration fees. [See also: ICANN, New gTLD Domain Name Renewal Fees, Price Gouging]

The QUESTION everybody is dodging

So THE QUESTION everybody [from Verisign to Larry Strickling/US Department of Commerce to Fadi Chehadé/ICANN to the Internet Commerce Association] is dodging: what happens after November 30, 2018, to .COM registration fees if the United States Department of Commerce has completed its IANA functions transition?

*If you think the IANA functions transition does NOT affect US oversight of .com, you better think again:
IANA Functions and Related Root Zone Management Transition Questions and Answers | NTIA: "....Q. Are the legacy top level domains associated with U.S. Government (e.g., .mil., .gov, .edu) part of this transition? A. No, the operation of and responsibility for the three remaining legacy top level domains associated with the U.S. Government specifically .mil, .gov, and .edu are not impacted by this transition as they are not part of the IANA and related root zone management functions." [no mention of .com, .net, .org]


Internet Grows to 276 Million Domain Names in the First Quarter of 2014

Largest TLDs Q1 2014 (source: Verisign)
Largest TLDs Q1 2014 (source: Verisign)

Internet Grows to 276 Million Domain Names in the First Quarter of 2014: "Aug 11, 2014 - VeriSign ... today announced five million domain names were added to the Internet in the first quarter of 2014, bringing the total number of registered domain names to 276 million worldwide across all top-level domains (TLDs) as of March 31, 2014, according to the latest Domain Name Industry Brief. The increase of five million domain names globally equates to a growth rate of 1.7 percent over the fourth quarter of 2013. Worldwide registrations have grown by 19.3 million, or 7.5 percent, year over year. The .com and .net TLDs experienced aggregate growth, reaching a combined total of approximately 128.5 million domain names in the adjusted zone in the first quarter of 2014. This represents a 4 percent increase year over year. As of March 31, 2014, the base of registered names in .com equaled 113.2 million names, while .net equaled 15.2 million names. New .com and .net registrations totaled 8.6 million during the first quarter of 2014. In the first quarter of 2013, new .com and .net registrations totaled 8.8 million." (read more at link above)

Internet Use and Access 2014 (UK report)

Infographic showing latest internet use by adults in Great Britain (Source: Office for National Statistics licensed under the Open Government Licence v.2.0.):
Infographic on Internet access 2014 Households and Individuals in Great Britain

Internet Access 2014 - Households and Individuals - ONS: Key Points:

  • In 2014, 38 million adults (76%) in Great Britain accessed the Internet every day, 21 million more than in 2006, when directly comparable records began.
  • Access to the Internet using a mobile phone more than doubled between 2010 and 2014, from 24% to 58%.
  • In 2014, 74% of all adults bought goods or services online, up from 53% in 2008. Clothes (49%) were the most popular online purchase in 2014.
  • Of all adults in Great Britain, 67% are aware of Internet storage space services, but the take up of these services to store data is much lower at 35%.
  • In Great Britain, 22 million households (84%) had Internet access in 2014, up from 57% in 2006.
  • Fixed broadband Internet connections were used by 91% of households.


Good Domain Names for Business "end with .com"

Nice article by JJ Rosen (founder of Atiba) in The Tennessean about domain names and domain name investing (at link below, excerpt follows):

Domain names still have lots of value: ".... "Good" domains for businesses are usually short, with no dashes, easy to spell, end with .com [dot com] and are easy to build a brand around [brandable]. Obtaining a good one that customers will remember can make or break a product or company. In today's world, a domain is the main component of a brand. It's golden. The value of the domain name has in effect created a new currency. Owning a desirable domain name is like holding a piece of land in an up-and-coming neighborhood. If bought at the right time and right price — then sold at the right time — it can turn out to be a great investment... Every investment has its risks, and the buying and selling of domain names is no exception. Brand new domain names are cheap but rarely have much value. Existing domain names are expensive and there is no efficient public market like a typical stock exchange to help establish a fair price... Domains are generally long-term buy-and-hold investments that are relatively illiquid compared to stocks and bonds... (emphasis added, read more at link above)


The Secret Google Camp (video)

Google's Illuminati secret summit: The Camp: Aug 8, 2014 - Forget Bilderberg or the Bohemian Grove, now there's a new, secretive Illuminati summit in town: Google's "The Camp." Taking place at the posh Verdura Golf & Spa Resort on Sicily's southwestern coast [see map below], The Camp will be attended by banking, tech industry, and other high-profile business professionals. So what do we know about this super-secretive camp so far? The Resident discusses. 
Follow The Resident at http://www.twitter.com/TheResident "

Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, S.S. 115, Km 131, Sciacca AG, Italy
+39 0925 998001


Drinking the Kool-Aid With Frank Schilling

Time to pause and drink some Frank Schilling Kool-Aid on a hot summer day--I love Twitter and almost everybody loves Frank (even if you disagree with him)--so here's a selection of his Tweets (and 1 Retweet-- being the first one below) with a little Domain Mondo commentary in-between:

LOL! Little did they know!

Meaning the ones Frank owns!
CONTROL them ALL Dr. No--err--Mr. Frank!
"Bet on all of them"--oh yeah, real good advice for investors or gamblers!
Uh, Frank, you better check with De Beers on that one.
Imagine that!
Notice Frank doesn't predict the same for .TATTOO - #newgTLD remorse?
For follow-up see this
"2015 ... com flatlines" = Frank heavy into the Kool-Aid
OK, what will be at the top of that measure? .TATTOO? LOL!
A psychiatrist could have a field day psychoanalyzing the above--I'm not touching it with a ten-foot pole!
Yes, it's called fools and their money
I'm not getting between Frank and Esther Dyson!

Have a good weekend--you too, Frank!

-- John Poole, Domain Mondo


Domain Name as Website Success Factor

Giuseppe Graziano at Domain Holdings referenced the academic "working paper" at the link below in a recent email: "... It is no coincidence that companies with the best domain names often tend to rise to the top of their space... If you would like to dig even deeper in the numbers of why this happens, you can read this very interesting academic research from the prestigious INSEAD Business School of Paris called "Empirical Evidence for the role of the Domain Name Itself in Website Performance" (pdf) by Karan Girotra and Karl Ulrich* (November 2010)..."

It is well worth taking the time to read. Excerpt (emphasis added):
“Domain names are the primary scheme by which this [internet] economy is organized. For an internet-based organization (e.g., YouTube), the domain is often central to the marketing of the organization. For instance, the domain name serves an internet retailer in much the same way as both the brand and the physical location do for a bricks-and- mortar retailer. For a business with significant operations in the physical world, the internet presence is typically still critical for marketing, communications, and transactions.”
My #1 takeaway after reading? You definitely want a dot COM domain name (yes, even .NET is inferior), but there is much, much more in the working paper referenced above for anyone in the domain name industry or involved in the domain name selection process.

*Yes, the same Karl Ulrich quoted below: “The introduction of new TLDs is likely to increase the value of the gold-standard ‘dot com.’ Adding more side streets only increases the value of a main-street address.” –Karl Ulrich, Vice Dean of Innovation and Professor of Operations and Information Management, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania (source: Knowledge@Wharton)


Gannett Acquires 73% of Cars.com for $1.8 Billion in Cash

Who needs a new gTLD domain name? No one, including Gannett:

Gannett is splitting into 2 companies--one for newspapers (stable to dying) and the other holding digital assets (cars.com and careerbuilder.com) and broadcasting properties--and also announced it was acquiring the "73% interest it does not already own in Classified Ventures LLC, which owns Cars.com, for $1.8 billion in cash" which tells you how valuable some of the "digital business assets" are and the dominance of the .COM extension for business domain names, notwithstanding .car and .cars and .auto and .autos and other ICANN nonsense.

Gannett Company, Inc | Investor Relations | News Release | gannett.com: "... Gannett is acquiring full ownership of Cars.com – a leading destination for online car shoppers... It is now the #2 auto-related site with approximately 30 million visits per month, and annual visits have grown at a rate of 17% for the last several years. Since its inception, Cars.com has grown consistently, and today the site displays approximately 4.3 million new and used cars from nearly 20,000 dealers... The automotive sector is the single largest and most important vertical for local advertising revenue, and Cars.com is one of the few proven and established digital solutions of scale in this market. Gannett will enter into new 5-year affiliate agreements with the existing owner-affiliates of Cars.com upon the closing date... The transaction is expected to contribute approximately $155 million in annual incremental 2014 pro forma EBITDA to Gannett, which includes the impact of the new affiliate agreements... The Digital business will consist of several other well positioned and growing online companies in addition to Cars.com. The largest is CareerBuilder [careerbuilder.com], a global leader in human capital solutions majority owned by Gannett, that provides services ranging from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. It is the largest online job site in the U.S., measured both by traffic and revenue, and has a presence in more than 60 markets worldwide..." (read more at link above)


Mobile Megatrends 2014


  • changing world of apps
  • mobile ecosystems
  • Google taking Android to the next level
  • Hardware as Distribution Channel, Disintermediation
  • Messaging Apps, new platforms
  • HTML5 (this one is the real kicker--but the story is richer than what is revealed here)


A Domain Name Portfolio is Not a Plan

In the general investment advisory world one often hears the words "a portfolio is not a plan," meaning as Nick Murray writes in his fifth edition of Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth: "A portfolio is not, in and of itself, a plan. And a portfolio that isn’t in service to a plan is just a form of speculation ..."

Portfolio Plan Definition | Investopedia: "Definition of a 'Portfolio Plan'--  An investment strategy applied to a personal or corporate portfolio that determines its general purpose and constraints. Once a portfolio plan has been determined, investments adhering to the plan are bought and sold accordingly."

As noted, a key to good planning is determining the "constraints," both internal and external, self-imposed and imposed by things over which one may have no control.  Examples of constraints are available capital, liquidity needs, income needs or requirements, investment time horizons, risk tolerances, caps on individual purchases, market conditions, and other requirements or limitations, some of which may be unique to the individual or organization.

Being mindful of the portolio plan, its purpose and the constraints, helps maintain focus and avoid losses chasing things that don't "fit" the plan. And of course, in evaluating one's portfolio, if it contains domain names that no longer adhere to the plan, then drop or sell them.

Finally, domain name portfolio plans are not static but should be dynamic, evolving, undergoing regular evaluation as circumstances and objectives change. Speaking solely for myself, I have found I save unbelievable amounts of time, and money, investing in accordance with my portfolio plan and avoiding chasing things which may be fine and appropriate for others, but do not meet my requirements or constraints. It also frees me up to keep the focus where it needs to be instead of distracted and chasing a thousand different things.

For example, I have intentionally avoided investing in any new gTLD domain names (I do have one in my portfolio that cost -0-) as I do not, personally, consider any of them "investment worthy"-- for example, there is no way to be assured [under ICANN's new gTLD registry agreements] of what the cost of annual renewal registration fees in the future will be on the new gTLD domain names--it is solely up to each individual registry operator, and can be changed with very little notice. (How would you like to build a business at a given street location and have no idea what the ground rent or taxes would be year to year? Reportedly one new gTLD registry is going to charge $30,000 a year to renew one new gTLD domain name after the first two years. Insane!) Therefore I am currently only investing in .COM domain names.

A domain name portfolio is not a plan. So what's your plan? And does your domain name portfolio adhere to your plan?

John Poole
Domain Mondo

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