Uni Naming and Registry (or Uniregistry or UNR) is to offload its 23 new generic top-level domains (new gTLDs) in a one-day auction event on 28 April. The event will consist of separate no-reserve auctions for each of the 23 new gTLDs, giving bidders the flexibility to only acquire the Top Level Domains that fit their strategies or budgets.
The move to sell its new gTLD portfolio follows Uniregistry’s decision to singularly focus on its growing registry services division and IP rights protection technology, which already supports numerous third-party gTLDs and ccTLDs. Uniregistry will offer winning bidders the option of subscribing to its “Registry in a Box” and Trustee services, or to move their extensions to the service provider of their choosing. Optional consulting is also available to help newcomers navigate ICANN policies, transition planning, and business development functions.
Uniregistry said in a statement “for the first time ever, the general public will have the ability to acquire any of these highly-coveted assets in an a-la-carte purchase format.” However it is unlikely the “general public” will be able to acquire a new gTLD as ICANN rules precluded individuals applying for them in the first place. Although an individual through a company may be able to.
The 23 new gTLDs up for grabs, with starting prices where applicable in brackets, are:
.audio ($500,000), .blackfriday ($350,000), .christmas ($350,000), .click ($1 million), .country ($300,000), .diet ($500,000), .flowers ($500,000), .game ($3.5m), .guitars ($250,000), .help ($1.3m), .hiphop ($250,000), .hiv, .hosting ($1m), .juegos, .link ($3m), .llp, .lol ($500,000), .mom ($500,000), .photo ($1.3m), .pics ($500,00), .property ($850,000), .sexy ($570,000) and .tattoo ($150,000).
One Uniregistry new gTLD not on the list is .gift while .llp’s registry is currently listed as Top Level Domain Holdings with Uniregistry providing backend registry services.
Registration numbers for the new gTLDs according to nTLDstats range from 159,000 for .link to 321 for .hiv and one (for the registry operator) for .llp, which appears to have not been launched. Only .link has registrations that pass the six-figure mark and another four (.click, .photo, .help and .lol) are above the 10,000 mark. Another 12 are in the four-figure mark. On nTLDstats only 21 of the new gTLDs are listed.
The auctions will be conducted by Innovative Auctions, who has consistently proven itself as the de facto clearinghouse for this asset class, and the founders of UNR will not be bidding. Innovative Auctions has had experience of a number of domain name auctions including facilitating an auction to sell the new gTLDs .car, .cars, and .auto, facilitate an auction for premium second level .insurance domains and operated Applicant Auction, a voluntary mechanism for resolving string contention among applicants in ICANN’s gTLD programme with a series of private auctions.
“Over the last 20 years, I have established myself as both an active buyer and seller across the entire domain name ecosystem. The UNR TLDs have been stronger performers within my diverse investment portfolio, and it is now time to reinvest that value into our core business as a dedicated registry services provider,” said Frank Schilling, Founder and CEO of UNR. “I’ve always been an innovator who has tried to move the industry forward for the next generation of participants. This event is truly unprecedented in its scale and in the magnitude of the opportunity available to participating bidders.”
In a similar but more certain way to owning a regular domain name, auction winners will receive full ownership rights and control of the new gTLDs won at auction, including their debt-free and royalty-free subscription-based revenue streams. Purchasers will have the ability to further develop the extensions, manage all registry-reserved and premium names, and register and use unlimited domains within their namespaces. Winning bidders are free to implement their own business models to innovate, serve registrants, and grow the namespaces, without limitations by the seller.
No mention is made in the announcement of what happens if the new gTLDs have no successful bidders.
Like other TLD sales, Uniregistry’s auctions will not affect website uptime for registrants, disrupt registrar connectivity, change domain name availability, or impact any other registry obligations or policies. All third-party TLDs on Uniregistry’s backend, including .trust and .ky, will continue operating without any changes in ownership or management.