Donuts dropped a bit of a bombshell on the domain name industry Thursday by announcing they were taking on the domain name registry business of Afilias, making it one of the largest providers of backend registry services for hundreds of ccTLDs, legacy gTLDs and new gTLDs.
Donuts has launched a new service to improve the security of the 4.5 million domain names registered in their 242 top-level domains. The new service, called TrueName, will prevent homographs. These are lookalike domain names that substitute letters or numbers with characters from Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic script tables for the purpose of malicious activity.
Donuts announced this week their .place new gTLD will become a generic top-level domain on 1 June, dropping the current eligibility restrictions.
Donuts has migrated the backend operations of all their 241 new gTLDs and 3.777 million domain names to the cloud using Amazon Web Services. It is the first major backend registry operator to migrate an existing on-premises backend to the cloud.
Announcing the move, Donuts says moving to the cloud has many strategic benefits for the largest new gTLD operator by TLDs and its registrar partners. The transition will allow Donuts to scale platform capacity according to the growth of its registrations while leveraging the redundancy and resiliency of the AWS platform. By leveraging the power of the cloud and AWS services, Donuts can expand its operational footprint in new geographies and deploy cloud services to efficiently process and analyse registry data for Donuts and its partners at a competitive cost structure.
“Our teams have mastered new technologies through this migration process. With this cloud migration, Donuts is positioned to take on new growth and innovation initiatives with confidence, knowing that our team of engineers and data scientists are up to the challenge,” reported Donuts CEO, Akram Atallah.
“We’ve fully automated the platform environment build-up, allowing us to set up a new registry platform in any geography with the push of a button,” says Benoit Levac, VP of Product and Engineering at Donuts. “This strengthens our position within the market as acquisition opportunities present themselves during this market consolidation.”
As one of the most innovative registries in the new gTLD era, Donuts is committed to maintaining the best platform and technology stack. Cloud enablement provides the scale and agility required to seize business opportunities ahead. Donuts plans to continue to optimise the new cloud platform to increase security, reliability, and adapt to the ever-changing technology landscape.
The .fan new gTLD hit general availability on 12 December in a marketplace where fans of sport and other forms of entertainment are well catered for. In the first 24 hours there were, according to nTLDstats, 996 registrations of .fan domain names, taking the total to 1,387. Today there are around 2,050 .fan domain names registered.
But for the fans of sport and other forms of entertainment, there is a second option with the .fans new generic top level domain which hit general availability in August 2015. There are currently 1,700 .fans domain names registered.
Searching a couple of registrar options, it appears .fan domain names are about half the price of .fans which at least in part explains the difference in registration numbers.
In their promotion of .fan, Donuts, the registry, has noted the first 24 hours of registrations were well in line with some of their most popular new gTLD releases.
They note that .fan is ideal for fans, followers, enthusiasts and their associated clubs, online communities and organizations in categories that include:
Amateur and professional sports
- Media and film
- Performing and Fine Arts (art, music, dance, etc.)
No doubt the same could be said of .fans, at double the registration fee.
Donuts Inc. announced the launch of the travel.domains website last week, with features to enable travel organisations, enthusiasts and industry professionals to browse, discover and purchase keyword-rich travel domains from its extensive TLD portfolio. Donuts travel TLDs include: .Travel, .Vacations, .Tours, .Voyage, .Cruises, .Holiday, .Flights, .Guide, .City, .Viajes, .Taxi, .Town, .Cab, .Reise / .Reisen, .Zone and .Limo.
Using Donutsâ powerful Relevant Name Search engine (RNS), website visitors can quickly find and select their domain names from a real-time inventory. When ready to check out, one click takes them directly to the registrarâs shopping cart (in this case, to Name.com), making the entire shopping process simple, seamless and convenient. Now that the website is launched, Donuts is offering travel.domains shopping cart integration to all registrars.
âItâs never been more important for travel industry companies, regardless of size, to own their identity on the web. Our goal with this website is to showcase our outstanding domain-name portfolio to those in the travel industry, and simplify the shopping and checkout process,â said John Pollard, executive vice president and general manager, Donuts registry. âThe integration experience with the registrarâs shopping-cart is one we hope to replicate with every registrar, because we think itâs a win-win: registrars acquire new customers, and travel industry pros find better domain names.â
In addition to powerful search and simplified shopping, the travel.domains website contains a wealth of information and case studies related to the online travel industry. Visitors can read about how travel TLDs are being used today, while Registrars can link to the site and obtain useful market data pertaining to the travel industry and merchandising content (e.g., logos, taglines, and âfast factsâ) for Donutsâ travel TLDs.
Itâs expected that global digital travel sales will surpass $200 billion by 2019, and sales are not just concentrated in large online travel agencies or walled gardens. There are hundreds of thousandsÂ of travel businesses looking to stand out on the web â particularly in markets that are not their home markets â and keyword-rich domain names help. Earlier in 2018, Donuts acquired the .Travel TLD due to strong growth in the category, the exceptionally high quality of registrants in the .Travel domain, and the strength and complementarity of the companyâs existing travel-related TLD portfolio.
The Donuts travel TLD portfolio is ideal for travel agencies and adventure companies, tour operators, hotels, hostels, bed & breakfast hosts, local resource sites and tourist attractions, travel writers and bloggers, and luggage and other travel-related retailers. TLDs such as .Properties and .Rentals are resonating with those looking to maximize their offers across multiple vacation rental sites. In fact, earlier in 2018, the domain name www.vacation.rentals was purchased for over $500,000, by an entrepreneur who has launched a vacation booking and rental service.
Travel enthusiasts and travel professionals can also leverage the Donuts portfolio for digital promotions and social posts. Recent research affirms the growing importance of web links that use real words, including new TLDs. In a survey conducted by Sapio Research and commissioned by Donuts, respondents overwhelmingly opted for branded short links using real words, over links containing long strings of characters and / or legacy short links. Reasons for preferring branded short links using real words included: more meaningful information, clarity of content, identification with the brand, trust and greater simplicity. To learn more about this survey, click here.
Donuts has announced their co-founder Jon Nevett is stepping down from his role as executive vice president of corporate affairs following the appointment of their new CEO Akram Atallah who is expected to commence in November.
In an announcement, Donuts note that Nevett will remain as a close advisor to the company having had had a tremendous, positive impact on Donuts since the companyâs inception.
As one of four Donuts co-founders and a domain industry veteran, Nevett was essential to Donuts in the new gTLD contention resolution process, enabling Donuts to secure 198 domains before their purchase of Rightside. In addition to business development at various times, Nevett managed Donutsâ legal, policy and HR teams.
Today Donuts manages 238 new gTLDs, or one in 5, and has 4.151 million domain names under management, accounting for 16.1% of all new gTLD domain names. Their 5 largest new gTLDs all have more than 100,000 domain name registrations: .ltd (572,500), .live (228,900), .life (187,700), .world (105,900) and .today (103,200).
In their statement lauding Nevettâs achievements, Donuts say Jon is a nationally recognised authority on Internet and DNS policy and has played a pivotal role in this industry for nearly two decades. He is a founding board member of the industryâs trade association, the Domain Name Association. Before co-founding Donuts, Jon was senior vice president at Network Solutions and chair of the boards of NameJet and Central Registry Solutions. Jon has been deeply involved in ICANN task forces, working groups, and panels. Jon worked closely with Donuts CEO Akram Atallah during Akramâs ICANN tenure and he looks forward to continued collaboration with Akram at Donuts.
They go on to say Jon currently serves on the ICANN Nominating Committee and the Registries Stakeholder Groupâs Executive Committee. His contributions to the new domain name industry and to ICANN have been extensive. For example, Jon helped form and served as the first chair of the New gTLD Applicant Group (NTAG) and was elected to three terms as chair of the ICANN Registrar Constituency. He was a member of ICANNâs IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG), which steered the move of this function to the global multi-stakeholder community.
Jon has leveraged his expertise in protecting trademarks as a member of the ICANN Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT), the Special Trademark Issue team (STI), and the International Trademark Associationâs Internet Committee. In 2009, Jon was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerceâs Online Safety and Technology Working Group related to issues of child safety and the Internet. Jon received his undergraduate degree from Binghamton University and his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.
Akram Attallah, ICANNâs second in charge and President of the Global Domains Division has resigned, effectively immediately, and will be taking up a position as CEO of Donuts, where his former boss at ICANN, Fadi ChehadÃ©, is a partner. Attallah will be replacing Bruce Jaffe who is stepping down and taking on a role as a senior advisor to the company during the transition. Attallah commences with Donuts on 12 November.
Donuts is the largest new generic top level domain operator by the number of new gTLDs with 238 and second by the number of domains under management (4.1 million). In his 8 years with ICANN Attallah was a key person overseeing the introduction of new gTLDs.
âAkram made many, significant contributions to ICANN in a variety of roles, including as Chief Operating Officer, Interim President & CEO, and as the first President of the Global Domains Division,â said GÃ¶ran Marby, President & CEO of ICANN in a statement. âPersonally, I will miss his advice and his friendship, and I want to thank him for all he did in supporting me when I joined ICANN.â
ICANN will be recruiting a replacement for Attallah, whose last day was 9 October, but in the meantime Marby said he has âasked Cyrus Namazi, VP, DNS Industry Engagement, Global Domains Division, to serve as interim department head for the Global Domains Division, to help ensure a smooth transition. David Conrad, Chief Technology Officer, will provide executive support of the IANA team in the interim.â
âWe thank Bruce for his stewardship of Donuts, during which in his tenure as president and chief executive officer, the company raised over $100 million in debt financing to acquire Rightside, and successfully engaged in a process to sell Donuts to Abry Partners,â said Erik Brooks, managing partner at Abry Partners and Donuts board member in a statement. Abry Partners acquired Donuts in September this year and the move could be seen as one of the first major changes Abry is making since its takeover. Attallah and Abry partner Fadi ChehadÃ©, who was ICANN CEO & President prior to Marby, have a history working together, both prior to and at ICANN.
âWe are delighted to welcome Akram to Donuts,â Erik continued. âHis deep experience in managing global organisations and rapidly-growing technology companies will be essential to driving Donutsâ next phase of growth. We are confident that Akramâs proven track record in and outside the domain name industry will broaden Donutsâ reputation as the innovative industry platform for new top-level domains and will enable the company to pursue rapid growth along multiple pathways.â
âI am thrilled to join the Donuts team,â said Akram Atallah. âI relish the challenge of further expanding overall awareness of the companyâs incredible top-level domain (TLD) assets, discovering new ways to use and leverage TLDs, and through its growth and success making Donuts a recognised, global innovation platform for people and organisations to create and manage their digital identities.â
Akramâs diversified technology experience runs the gamut from engineering to operations to product development and marketing. Before ICANN, he was chief operation officer at CoreObjects Software, an engineering services start-up. Prior to CoreObjects, he was general manager of the Broadband Access business unit at Conexant, and before that was the general manager of its Universal Access business, where he grew it to more than $800 million in revenues. His accomplishments at Conexant also included improved profit margins, transforming the marketing and engineering functions, and restoring its global market leadership position.
Donuts Inc., the operator of 238 new gTLDs with 4.007 million domain names registered, has announced it has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Abry Partners, a leading private equity firm. Terms and timing of the agreement were not disclosed.
The 238 new generic top level domain names in Donutsâ portfolio makes it the largest by far, and which was made even larger when it took over Rightside in 2017. But it has only the second largest number of domain names, behind Domain Name Ventures with 5.336 million, whose largest is .loan with 2.291 million registrations according to nTLDstats. The most popular Donuts new gTLDs are .ltd (473,900 registrations), .live (214,600) and .life (181,700).
Abry Partners was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Itâs described as an experienced and successful private equity investment firm focused on media, communications, insurance, business and information services. Since its founding, ABRY has completed more than $77 billion of transactions, representing investments in more than 650 properties. In June this year it was announced it had purchased a controlling stake in Screenvision Media, a cinema advertising and film distribution company based in the United States. In August they announced they had funded the acquistition of AdSwerve, a leading Google Marketing Platform Partner, by Seattle-based Analytics Pros, Inc. â a top Google Analytics 360 and Google Cloud partner and reseller.
ICANNâs former President and CEO, Fadi ChehadÃ©, is a partner at Abry. ChehadÃ© was in charge of ICANN from September 2012 until March 2016. Shortly afterwards ChehadÃ© commenced with Abry as well as being on the advisory board with the World Economic Forumâs Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Heâs also a member of the UN Secretary-Generalâs High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation. ChehadÃ© announced in August 2015, after he had announced his resignation, that he would commence his role with Abry upon leaving ICANN.
According to Bloomberg, Abry âprefers to invest in North America and Europe. The firm typically invests between $25 million and $150 million of equity in case of the private equity fund or between $15 million and $50 million of mezzanine/senior equity capital or between $50 million and $125 million in buyouts of mid market companies. It seeks to invest for a period between three years and seven years.â
âIndividuals and businesses manage their digital identities in an increasingly complex world of proliferating devices, platforms and access points,â said Erik Brooks, Managing Partner, Abry Partners. âDonuts is ideally positioned with the worldâs largest portfolio of new TLDs, a proven team with deep experience in scaling successful technology companies, and a track record of innovation in their industry. We are excited to partner with Donuts and support their next phase of growth and success.â
This announcement marks another important milestone in a period of exceptional growth and innovation for Donuts. In the last 18 months, Donuts has acquired Rightside, a complementary registry with a high-quality portfolio of 40 new TLDs and a wholly-owned registrar subsidiary, Name.com; it has launched BL.INK, a premier enterprise short link management platform used by leading brands such as Coca Cola, TEN (The Enthusiast Network) and many others, and added features for registrarsâ and resellersâ SMB customers; it was named one of the Red Herring 100; it has launched Relevant Name Search (RNS), a powerful new domain search tool for channel partners; it was the first Internet registry to surpass the $500,000 mark in sales of individual new TLD domain names; and it was named Number One in the Deloitte Fast 500.
âWe are delighted to partner with Abry,â said Bruce Jaffe, Donuts president and chief executive officer. âOver the last thirty years, the firm has built a stellar track record as one of the premier media, communications, business and information services-focused private equity investment firms in North America. We believe their confidence in Donuts underscores the power and magnitude of our opportunity. Moreover, their insights and expertise in our sector will be of enormous benefit to Donuts as we move forward.â
In a recent blog post, Donuts published a âpremium insightsâ into the premium domain names registered in their new gTLDs. Donuts believes the range and scope of this activity offer a window into the overall health of market uptake for new TLDs, so we thought weâd share some highlights on a regular basis.
Every week, they note, there are typically dozens of names sold up to the $1,000 per year mark, and in their highlighted week there were some notable domain names registered including: run.live, dental.claims and news.software. .LIVE continues to be one of Donutsâ top-performing TLDs for premium domains.
Donuts have hundreds of domain names in the $100 to $999 range with the most popular new generic top level domains in this price range currently being: .NEWS, .REVIEWS, .VENTURES, .LIVE, .SERVICES and .BUSINESS. Some examples they give include:
- king.news, mail.services, rc.ventures, phoenix.business, audit.business, insurance.live
As always, one- and two-character domains are quite popular. Some examples were:
- z.pizza, jz.live, 7.diamonds, a.vacations, b.international, m.codes, a.camera, bx.finance, ca.tours, i.cheap
Increasingly they note people are registering domain names containing full words that are meaningful and often highly specific. These include:
- chicago.house, printing.graphics, spice.kitchen, liberty.network, littlerock.university, motorcycle.tours, speaking.coach, videostream.live, approved.credit, autoinsurance.live, boutique.wine, dermatology.surgery
This trend is noteworthy for a couple of reasons say Donuts: first, many of these appear to be the actual business name (e.g., littlerock.university) or a particular category (e.g., boutique.wine, printing.graphics). In the former case, Donuts like the fact that increasingly people are including their brand or business into their domain name; itâs a powerful way to leverage digital identity. In the latter case, category names are especially valuable to registrants for organic search purposes.
Donuts has previously highlighted the âevergreenâ SEO nature of these names. Having a name thatâs a popular search term (such as motorcycle.tours or dermatology.surgery) means that this name is well positioned to appear on the first page of organic search results. Thatâs a powerful benefit for businesses looking to acquire customers without having to pay SEO/SEM consultants to maintain their search presence.