Tag Archives: Minds+Machines

New gTLD Auctions See Questionable Amounts Paid

Minds + Machines logoMinds + Machines have announced they gained aggregate cash of approximately $6.2 million from withdrawing its applications to .design, .flowers, .group, .realestate and .video in private auctions. The net cash to M+M includes the amounts paid for .vip and .law, and is also net of auction fees and refunds received from ICANN for withdrawing applications.

The Company also participated in the ICANN-sponsored auctions for .vip and .tech, in which it purchased .vip for approximately $3.1 million, and lost the auction for .tech. The auction for .tech was sponsored by ICANN, and hence the Company did not receive funds from the winning bidder of .tech, as happens in a private auction.

Which makes one wonder. M+M, and others paying seemingly high prices obviously have done some homework and see a strong market. But with so many gTLDs coming to market, and paying $3.1m for .vip, it is hard to see M+M making good money. But only time will tell.

But M+M are happy. “The outcome from the latest auction rounds has surpassed all expectations. Our focus in auctions has, and will continue to be, building the premier portfolio of top level domains,” said Fred Krueger, Chairman of Minds + Machines.

“These are exciting times and we are still only at the very early stages of the new generic TLD rollout programme,” Krueger went on to say in announcing interim financial results.

“During the first half of the year, we have focused both on how best to grow our portfolio of wholly or majority owned top level domains and how best to address the markets for our existing portfolio of TLDs.

“We believe that the overall performance of our new TLDs, and the Group as a whole, greatly benefits from our having our own additional registrar channel through which to market and sell our new TLDs, including our portfolio TLDs, directly to consumers. We look forward to continuing to develop our consumer focused registrar services.”

“All in all, we believe that the Company’s new TLD portfolio, human capital and operational and financial structure have us very well placed to continue succeeding in the future.”

The company also released financials for the six months to 30 June. These show that total sales for the six months were £295,000, up from 7,000 in the previous six months while what is considered revenue was £68,000, also up from 7,000 and there was a £7,110,000 profit to M+M on gTLD auctions. Net assets were valued at £45,277,000, up from £23,976,000 six months earlier.

In announcing their gTLD wins and losses, M+M said in relation to .law, a third party participated in the private auction. The third party will solely receive a share of ongoing .law revenues and will not be involved in the management, operations or policy-making of the .law TLD.

M+M now has interests in 26 uncontested domains which it either wholly/majority owns or in which it has a JV interest. It also has commercial interests in a further 6 client uncontested domains.

There are also 25 remaining contested gTLD applications, which M+M either wholly/majority owns or in which it has a JV interest, and the Board believes that the majority of these will be resolved through the private auction process. In addition, clients of M+M, for whom it will be providing registry and registrar services, have interests in a further three contested applications.

The private auction for .flowers took place the first week of September; the ICANN sponsored auctions for .tech and .vip completed the week of 8 September; and the private auctions for .design, .law .realestate, and .video, took place in the week of 15 September. The private auction for .group, in which Minds + Machines had an interest, concluded in August.

Domain Name Association Launched To Educate On Domains

The Domain Name Association was launched yesterday (28 October) with the goal of educating internet users, promoting expansion of top level domains promoting the usage of domain names.The founding members serving on an Interim Board include ARI Registry Services, Demand Media, Donuts, FairWinds Partners, GoDaddy, Google, Momentous, United TLD and WhatBox?. DomainsBot Inc., Minds + Machines and RightOfTheDot, LLC are also founding members.”For too long the domain name industry has relied on ICANN to defend our commercial interests, even though this is not ICANN’s responsibility,” Adrian Kinderis, Chair of the Interim Board of the Domain Name Association Goldstein Report last week. “The formation of the Domain Name Association reflects a maturation of our industry in the corporate sphere and presents a united front in the promotion of domain names as the primary tool for users to navigate the internet.””I strongly encourage everyone involved in the industry to join the Domain Name Association and contribute to our collective growth.”More information is in the news release below:New Non-Profit Launched to Support the Growth and Development of the Internet Domain Name Industry [news release]The Domain Name Association seeks to educate Internet users and promote expansion, usage of domain names; and curates educational resource whatdomain.orgAs the Internet faces a historic transformation with hundreds of new domain names coming online, an international nonprofit organization has been created to promote the interests of the domain name industry by advocating the use, adoption, and expansion of domain names as the primary tool for users to navigate the Internet.The Domain Name Association (DNA), launched today by companies active in the Internet sector, will educate Internet users around the world about the benefits of domain names, with a specific focus on the imminent introduction of new Top-Level Domains which will revolutionize the way we navigate the Internet. The DNA will develop educational resources and campaigns to prepare users for these changes and support the success of the new domains.Membership is open to organizations involved in all aspects of managing domain names, including domain name registries, registrars, resellers, and registry service providers. Founding members serving on an Interim Board include ARI Registry Services, Demand Media, Donuts, FairWinds Partners, GoDaddy, Google, Momentous, United TLD, and WhatBox?. DomainsBot Inc., Minds + Machines, and RightOfTheDot, LLC are also Founding members.The DNA aims to play a key role in helping individuals, businesses, and public-benefit organizations understand the benefits and take advantage of the upcoming expansion of Internet domains. It will also promote, advance, and support the common interests of the domain name industry with respect to provisioning, expanded adoption, and use of domain names.”The domain name industry sorely lacks a vocal advocacy body that is prepared to fight for our commercial interests, and this is the gap the Domain Name Association is going to fill as the first-ever domain name industry trade group,” said Adrian Kinderis, Chair of the Interim Board of the DNA.”As such, we are ideally placed to help Internet users learn about the upcoming new Top-Level Domains and to help them navigate the changing Internet landscape. We will also work to build trust, exchange ideas, educate, and raise awareness of domain related issues within the industry, and we invite all stakeholders in the domain name industry to join the DNA and work together in support of our shared objectives.”The DNA’s first priority will be to educate Internet users around the world about new Top-Level Domains. Many Internet users are unaware that these changes are coming and they may be confused when they first arrive. The DNA is already working to develop educational resources and campaigns to prepare end users for these changes and ensure the success of the new domains. An example of the group’s efforts is the informative website whatdomain.org, an educational resource about the new Top-Level Domain program.DNA membership is organized as a multi-tiered structure that accommodates various levels of interest and desire for participation in the work of the DNA. More information is available on the DNA website.Industry participants are invited to join the DNA to collaborate with peers to promote and ensure mutual success through a period of major change. DNA membership will solidify a company’s role as a critical player in the next phase of the growth of the Internet, with the opportunity to influence important industry policy decisions. Members can also leverage the DNA’s marketing and education programs in their own activities, and they will receive exclusive information via newsletters and bulletins, as well as access to research results.About the DNAThe Domain Name Association (the DNA) is a non-profit business association that represents the interests of the domain name industry. It is independent and global in scope, and its membership is open to organizations involved in the provision, support, and sale of domain names, such as domain name registries, registrars, resellers, and registry service providers.Founding members serving on an Interim Board include ARI Registry Services, Demand Media, Donuts, FairWinds Partners, GoDaddy, Google, Momentous, United TLD, and WhatBox?. DomainsBot Inc., Minds + Machines, and RightOfTheDot, LLC are also Founding members.The DNA’s mission is to promote the best interests of the domain name industry by advocating the use, adoption, and expansion of domain names as the primary tool for users to navigate the Internet. More information is available at www.thedna.org.

GTLD Applicants Combine To Voice Criticisms Of Community Objection Process

ICANN new generic Top Level Domains logoA number of applicants for new gTLDs have written to ICANN expressing their “grave concerns relating to the Community Objection process”, saying they believe the Expert Panels “do not have any prior experience with the new gTLD programme or a deep understanding of the Applicant Guidebook (AGB).”

The letter from Shweta Sahjwani (Radix Registry), Reg Levy (Top Level Domain Holdings / Minds & Machines) and Jay Westerdal (Fegistry, LLC) says that as applicants they very carefully considered the definition of “community” in the AGB before applying under “community” or “standard” applications and that they did not try to “game the system”.

They go on to say they did this in the belief that “ICANN and its contracted parties would be responsible for upholding the AGB definitions at every stage of the programme.”

However they are concerned by how the Expert Panel that in evaluating the .architect and .fly applications “do not even mention the definition of the term ‘community’ as defined by the AGB, let alone whether the alleged community in question in each Objection is really a community.”

The letter concludes noting “several other instances in the Expert Determinations … confirm our assertion that the Expert Panels simply have not adhered to the AGB while making their decisions.”

The letter also asks for ICANN to temporarily suspend decision making until it can “conduct a basic level of training for the actual Expert Panels on the AGB guidelines and their interpretations.”

Closed gTLD: Van Couvering Discusses The Issues

Antony Van Couvering imageThe debate over closed generic Top Level Domains is ongoing, and Antony Van Couvering of Minds + Machines has entered the debate with a posting on the company blog.

Van Couvering writes the issue divides those that are normally united in their opinions on the new gTLDs. The issue was the focus of the Non-Commercial Constituency of ICANN who sponsored a presentation of different views on closed generics at the recent ICANN 47 in Durban. The presentation was “as usual, … the most informative and buncombe-free of the meeting.” So the issue got Van Couvering “thinking about what these principled arguers were really disagreeing about. It’s worth delving into.”

“Although they have a common label, the proposed closed generic TLDs are not all the same. Some will work just like brand TLDs, where second-level names will be issued but Internet users will have no ability to use them except to click them, or type them in. Others envisage what amounts to a rental of a name, where a user has exclusive use of a name but enjoys it not with the protections that come with being a registrant, but according to whatever terms the registry owner decides to impose as a condition of use.

“The question now in front of the ICANN Board is: should these uses be allowed?”

To read Van Couvering’s article and his views on closed gTLDs, go to www.mindsandmachines.com/2013/07/29/on-the-question-of-closed-generics.

Minds+Machines Says Digital Archery Deeply Flawed

Antony Van Couvering imageICANN’s batching program for new generic Top Level Domains, called digital archery, is deeply flawed and should be abandoned before it causes havoc with the new gTLD programme, writes Antony Van Couvering on the Minds+Machines blog.

“As well as arbitrarily creating winners and losers, creating unfair advantages for certain types of applicants and for certain regions, the program may be suffering from another software ‘glitch’ of the kind that damaged the application process. There is a much better solution: a single batch for all applications.”

The problem was acknowledged by ICANN and in a subsequent post, Van Couvering notes that ICANN said “it related to display only (not to actual data recorded), and that the issue has been fixed as of Saturday.”

But Van Couvering believes the batching programme itself remains deeply flawed, something about which he has previously written. He says “this entire programme is flawed, unfair, and will create mayhem and ill-will. And it is completely unnecessary.”

The system will create winners and losers he writes.

“ICANN’s batching system arbitrarily creates winners (those in the first batch) and losers (those in the second and subsequent batches). The advantages to going first may be enormous from an economic and market acceptance perspective.”

Van Couvering also believes that there is too much chance involved in hitting your target.

“Digital archery not a game of skill, but of chance. Network latencies, vagaries of the DNS, and other factors can all have an impact on how close a click comes to the target.”

Digital archery is also unfair to poorer applicants, as “it is a question of resources, not skill.” Another process of unfairness is the “round-robin geographical distribution introduces another element of unfairness” which “means in practice is that all applications from Africa (with few applications) will be in Batch 1, while North America, with many applications, will end up with very few in Batch 1.”

Additionally, the system benefits those where there are multiple applications, which will be generic terms and not brand names, as all applications will be dragged into the round with the best score.

To read more on Digital Archery by Antony Van Couvering, see:

  • The Biggest Glitch of All – ICANN’s Batching Program for new gTLDs


  • Digital Archery Glitch Followup


Minds + Machines Adds .BASKETBALL To Sporting Lineup

FIBA logoHot on the heels of announcing it was providing back-end registry support for the .RUGBY TLD, MINDS + Machines has added .BASKETBALL to its stable, having been appointed by FIBA, the world governing body for basketball, to provide back-end registry services the gTLD.

“We are honoured to be partnering with FIBA and ROAR Domains LLC on this application,” said Peter Dengate Thrush, rugby fan and Chairman of Top Level Domain Holdings. “Basketball is a global sport embracing a community of more than 450 million people. We believe the .BASKETBALL domain can have an important role to play in promoting the sport and enhancing the community of federations, clubs, players and fans.”

If its application is successful, FIBA will be able to supply relevant and available domain names for people, entities and organisations with an affinity for basketball, that do not currently have any particular domain space catering to their specific needs. Accordingly, FIBA will provide those users with a trusted and secure domain space that is consistent with industry standard service levels.

“The decision to apply for .BASKETBALL is fully aligned with FIBA’s mission to unify the basketball community, along with the promotion and development of our sport,” said FIBA Secretary General and IOC Member Patrick Baumann. “This domain name concerns our 213 National Federations as well as all other basketball stakeholders worldwide.”

IRB applies for .RUGBY Top Level Domain

International Rugby Board logoThe International Rugby Board has announced that it is applying to the ICANN to acquire the .RUGBY generic top-level domain name (gTLD).

The application is being submitted by Rugby’s global governing federation to keep the .RUGBY domain within the sport for the benefit of the global Rugby family and uphold and promote its values, protecting the sport, its trademarks and the interests of its core stakeholders.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “With an 18 per cent increase in participation over the last four years we now have more than 5.5 million players participating across 117 countries affiliated to the IRB. Rugby is engaging with more men, women and children than ever before while the profile and commercial reach of the sport continues to go from strength to strength.”

“This application is for the Rugby family and underscores our continued commitment to protecting and promoting Rugby’s values and ethos. It is our ambition to ensure that the .RUGBY domain resides within the sport in order that all involved in Rugby can benefit.”

The application follows the opening of the application process being conducted by ICANN to expand the availability of domain names to the public sector beyond the current portfolio of 22 domain names (including .com, .net and .org) to include almost any word. This process has been initiated by ICANN as availability reaches capacity within the traditional domains.

The IRB has partnered with ROAR Domains, LLC and Top Level Domain Holdings, the only publicly traded company focused exclusively on acquiring and operating new generic top-level domains. TLDH’s wholly owned registry services company, Minds + Machines, will provide back-end registry services for .RUGBY.

IRB Acting CEO Robert Brophy added: “If we are successful in our application we propose to work in partnership with our national federations to make the .RUGBY domain name available to the global Rugby family at all levels, including, players, from amateur to professional, tournament owners, organisers and, of course, fans.”

The IRB in partnership with ROAR Domains, LLC and Top Level Domain Holdings, will be able to supply relevant and available domain names for people, entities and organisations with an affinity for Rugby, that do not currently have any particular domain space catering to their specific needs. The IRB will provide those users with a trusted and secure domain space that is consistent with the industry standard service levels.

Antony van Couvering, CEO of TLDH, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with the IRB on this sporting domain name. This partnership brings the legitimacy and marketing power to a new class of sporting TLDs.”

Hamish Miller, Director of ROAR Domains, said: “We are excited about the partnership with the IRB and look forward to working closely with them to ensure the proper stewardship of the .RUGBY gTLD.”

This International Rugby Board news release was sourced from:

Minds+Machines Wins Contract For .LONDON

Minds+Machines has won the contract to be registry operator for .LONDON in the current round of applications for Top Level Domains, assuming the application is successful.

The Contract, won by Minds and Machines (a subsidiary of Top Level Domain Holdings) through a competitive tender process, is for a seven year period, with a three year renewal period which is subject to certain conditions.

“We are delighted to be working with Minds and Machines on the dot London Application and are confident that the initiative will bring important additional revenue and jobs to the capital,” said Gordon Innes, CEO at London & Partners.

“The dot London domain provides a tremendous opportunity to extend the global presence of London across the Internet, and likewise position it as a centre of digital innovation. We believe we are now excellently placed to benefit from the unprecedented opportunities provided by the de-regulation of the Internet naming system.”

Meanwhile Peter Dengate Thrush, Chairman of TLDH, said TLDH is “proud to be partnering with one of the greatest cities in the world. We are committed to working with London & Partners and DLDL to ensure that dot London becomes a central part of the city’s promotion and a resource that is of real value to the people, businesses and communities of London. We are honoured to have won this contract in the Olympic year which places London at the centre of a global audience.”

Minds+Machines Signs Agreement with Bavarian Government to Manage .BAYERN

The Directors of Top Level Domain Holdings Limited have announced that Bayern Connect GmbH, the German operating company in which TLDH has a majority holding, has been exclusively awarded the contract to apply for the .BAYERN gTLD string by the Bavarian State Government.

Top Level Domain Holdings’ wholly owned registry services company, Minds+Machines, will provide the back-end registry services for the proposed new domain. Revenue to the Company will be based on a share of the revenues generated by the domain.

“We view .BAYERN as a very significant win for Bayern Connect and for TLDH,” said Antony Van Couvering, CEO of Top Level Domain Holdings.

“We are fully aware of the responsibility entrusted to us and plan to fully support Bayern Connect in its mission, continued Van Couvering. “Germany has 82 million inhabitants, 62 million internet users and 15 million domain names registered under .DE. By comparison, Bavaria has 12.5 million inhabitants. We foresee a long and mutually profitable relationship with Bayern Connect and the people of Bavaria through this initiative.”

Top Level Domain Holdings is currently supporting a portfolio of gTLD applications ranging from geographic applications, wholly-owned or joint venture applications for generic word based domains, and applications by third party clients where Top Level Domain’s registry services company, Minds+Machines, provides the registry service.

Why CRIDO”s Attempt To Derail New gTLDs Is Doomed To Fail

In his latest posting on the Minds+Machines blog, Antony Van Couvering looks at the advertising and marketing industry””s opposition to new gTLDs.

This opposition, largely coming from the US is notable for several reasons. One is that the industry has been nigh on silent for the five plus years that new gTLDs have been discussed. Secondly, a number of organisations came out guns ablaze complaining about the process, demanding it be stopped. Third is, somewhat embarrassingly, at least one of the organisations seemed to forget they had already made a submission on the process, largely negating their ability to say “we only just realised this was happening.” This claim would be somewhat embarrassing for organisations with so many resources.

So now we have CRIDO. It is an organisation announced on 11 November with 87 major national and international business associations and companies who joined forces with the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) to form the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) to oppose the rollout of ICANN””s top-level domain expansion programme.

Van Couvering notes that “the ANA and CRIDO may control 99% of the money, but they have about one per cent of the facts. Facts may not matter that much when you””re running a FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) campaign, but for completeness”” sake it is worth pointing out that the figures being presented by the ANA and CRIDO have as tenuous a relationship with reality as Somalia does with law and order.

“As Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research points out in a recent article, the ANA claims that new gTLDs will cost their members ””billions of dollars”” without once providing any verifiable basis for this claim.

“Minds + Machines, by contrast, put together a study, ””What Cost New gTLD Trademark Infringements to Brands?”” that is easily replicable by anyone. Completely fact-based, relying on publicly available data, our study shows that infringements are correlated very highly with volume, and that if new gTLDs increase the number of names in the market by 15%, there would be an additional 316 UDRP filings per year, or an average of ten cents cost per trademark. If the domain name market grew more (which indicates greater public benefit), there would undoubtedly be more UDRPs, but the costs would remain very low.

“GoDaddy has also done a study, which concludes that UDRPs have gone up in volume due as much to the ease of filing as to any increase in cybersquatting:

Although there is little doubt that the ongoing practice of cybersquatting factors into the tide of arbitration cases, the ease of filing, along with more vigilance on the part of IP holders, undoubtedly influenced the measurable increase in cases.

“In addition ICANN has hired numerous economists, who all reach the same conclusion: yes, there will be costs to brands, and even though the public benefits are not yet clear, there are some obvious benefits that can be predicted. In general (the economists say) competition is in general a good thing, and there is certainly no compelling case to be made that the introduction of new gTLDs will cause harms that will outweigh the public good.”

Van Couvering notes “it appears that there is no appetite in Congress for hearings on this subject, even leaving aside the questions of whether the U.S. can or should act unilaterally.”

There is also not universal support for CRIDO and their outlandish views. Van Couvering uncovered a comment on an AdAge article by Thom Kennon, SVP and Director of Strategy at Y&R who wrote:

“Shame on the ANA for taking such a misinformed and myopic view of one of the most significant changes in how brands and consumers find each other since the birth of the commercial Web.

“Although none of us have any idea of the broad, deep implications of this re-architecting of the interwebs, it doesn””t take much of a creative bent to see the powerful opportunities this will likely afford every brand — and organization, and industry and even cities, states and towns.

“Unlike the ANA — whose argument here seems to be nothing more than a repetitive loop of ””ICANN””s wrong, it doesn””t add up…””- some of us are working to explore what this change might offer for the future of the brands and businesses we represent.

“As the ANA (and sadly any of its members who take this Luddite advice) sit on the sidelines, some of us are exploring how the early brand movers — in the right category with the right architectural strategy — can reap huge, long-term rewards and competitive advantage from leading instead of lagging.

“Here””s some better advice: every single brand manager, marketing strategist, technologist, content developer and CMO should start spending some serious time understanding what these changes can and will bring to how the ””human web”” is evolving. Be smart, nimble and opportunistic and be ready to steal the march from those who chose to worry and wait.”

Van Couvering does not believe the ANA and CRIDO will succeed. He says “the ANA and CRIDO, using the same arguments, but in a louder voice, are not going to succeed in overturning a hard-fought consensus that has involved all the significant interests in the space. The arguments have been taken seriously, been given years of hearings, have resulted in numerous changes to the gTLD program to accommodate the concerns that they raise, additional protections have been put in place, and the finally the program passed on a vote by the ICANN Board. Governments, businesses, intellectual property owners, ISPs, civil society, everyone participated.”