PIR Addresses Concerns Over Conflicts And Registry Fee Rises Following Takeover

The announcement in mid-November that Ethos Capital, a private equity company, had bought Public Interest Registry from the Internet Society has caused some outrage from sections of the internet community over possible conflicts of interest and concerns the registry fee for .org domain names could rise significantly. To address these concerns Public Interest Registry put out a statement over the weekend addressing some frequently asked questions about the transaction with responses that they believe should provide additional clarity.

The questions and answers as published on the website PIR set up are as follows:

What is Ethos Capital?

Ethos Capital is an investment company firmly rooted in the belief that prosperity should be built and shared, and that innovation has the power to fuel growth and success for all.  It was founded by Erik Brooks, a seasoned technology investor with extensive knowledge of the domain industry.

The firm’s investment philosophy is to help companies drive growth and transformation by employing new technologies, while maintaining a commitment to operating ethically, responsibly and in the best interests of all stakeholders and the broader community.  The limited partners in Ethos are all U.S. based investors.

Ethos has completed investments in VidMob Inc., Whistle Sports Inc., Adhark Inc. and LiquidX Inc.

What will PIR’s acquisition by Ethos Capital mean for .ORG prices? 

Ethos Capital is committed to keeping .ORG accessible and reasonably priced for all, in line with PIR’s longstanding, purpose-driven mission.

The current price of a .ORG domain name is approximately $10 per year. Our plan is to live within the spirit of historic practice when it comes to pricing, which means, potentially, annual price increases of up to 10 percent on average – which today would equate to approximately $1 per year.

With this construct, .ORG will continue to be one of the most affordable domain names on the market.  We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to provide enhanced services and support to the .ORG Community, and are committed to maintaining .ORG’s position as the natural home for purpose-driven organizations on the Internet. 

What does the acquisition mean for the .ORG Community?

Ethos will continue PIR’s ongoing engagement with the .ORG Community to understand its needs and concerns regarding scope of services, price sensitivities and other matters.  

Ethos is investing in the long-term vitality of .ORG and its users and intends to serve their needs for many years to come.

Ethos has pledged to continually address the needs of the community through expanded registry services to implement privacy regulations, clamp down on SPAM and DNS abuse, as well to undertake activities that support the .ORG Community.  

Is the Internet Community supportive of this transaction?

PIR has received strong support by a number of individuals and organizations throughout the Internet community who / that understand the value of this transaction and the opportunity it will provide to both PIR and the .ORG Community.

Vint Cerf, the former Chairman of the Board of ICANN and founding President of the Internet Society, has publicly said: “I am looking forward to supporting Ethos Capital and PIR in any way I can as they continue to expand the utility of the .ORG top-level domain in creative and socially responsible ways.” 

As expected, concerns that have been raised have mainly been related to pricing. We hope the information we have provided on pricing helps to allay those concerns.

Did Ethos Capital approach the Internet Society about acquiring PIR while PIR was renegotiating its ICANN contract?

Ethos Capital first approached the Internet Society in September 2019, well after PIR’s contract renewal with ICANN had finished.

Was the removal of price restrictions connected to the decision to sell PIR?

No.  All standard registry agreements with ICANN today no longer include price restrictions.  PIR was not for sale at the time the price caps were lifted on .ORG.

The removal of .ORG’s price restrictions earlier this year was not unique to .ORG and was in no way motivated by a desire to sell PIR.

Was Jon Nevett hired by PIR in anticipation of this transaction? 

Jon Nevett was hired because of his extensive industry experience and the Internet Society’s desire to see PIR set the highest standards for a registry operator. Under its new ownership, Jon will remain CEO of PIR.

Is Abry Partners involved in this transaction? 

Abry Partners is not involved in this transaction.  Abry Partners is a private equity firm where Erik Brooks worked for 20 years, prior to leaving and starting Ethos Capital.

Is Fadi Chehade involved in this transaction?

Fadi Chehade’s company, Chehade & Company, is an adviser to Ethos. Chehade & Company is an advisory company with clients across the technology, education and creative sectors.

Mr. Chehade is a board member of Sentry Data Systems and Interactions LLC and serves as an advisory board member of the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Previously he was the President and CEO of ICANN, a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, and a Senior Advisor to the Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

How is Ethos Capital planning to protect the interests of the .ORG Community?

Under the new ownership, PIR’s operation of .ORG will continue as usual with the same excellent management team and reliable backend registry operator. There will be no disruption of services to the .ORG Community.  

Both PIR and Ethos Capital are committed to ensuring a smooth and seamless transition, and to continuing the community orientation and strong social purpose of the .ORG and PIR. Ethos is enthusiastic about developing new services and support to serve the .ORG Community.

Will PIR continue its commitment to the .ORG Community now that it will be switching from a nonprofit to a for-profit entity?

Both Ethos Capital and PIR are strongly committed to the success of the .ORG Community.

PIR and Ethos Capital are looking forward to launching several new initiatives aimed at promoting and supporting the .ORG Community, including: 

  • Establishing a Stewardship Council that will serve to uphold PIR’s core founding values and provide support through a variety of community programs;
  • Launching a Community Enablement Fund to support the financing of current and additional initiatives undertaken by key Internet organizations; and 
  • Expanding a program to award .ORG prizes to promote the success and positive impact of non-profit organizations.

In addition, Ethos Capital is currently evaluating an opportunity to seek B Corporation Certification for PIR.

  • The high standards for B Corp Certification are overseen by B Lab’s independent Standards Advisory Council
  • Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. 

The above information was sourced from: keypointsabout.org

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