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gTLD Applicants Should Keep Eye on .LA & Other ccTLD Marketing

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Did you know there is a .LA domain extension? Similar to .TV being for Tuvalu, .CO being for Colombia, and .ME being for  Montenegro, .LA is the country code for the southeast Asian country of Laos.

If you’ve heard of .LA or seen .LA domain names advertised, it’s most likely by a domain registrar marketing it as the Los Angeles extension (like the Register.com email that spurred my post). It is probably being marketed in a similar fashion to how the .NYC, .Paris, and other geographic areas intend to market their own gTLDs once ICANN approves them.

Anyone who intends to bid on and win a gTLD should look at the efforts ccTLD registries are making to sell their domain names. They should analyze what is working and what isn’t working. They can monitor the amount of domain registrations along with the ups and downs in registration cycle to see how marketing efforts are paying off.

gTLD registries are going to have to pay a lot of money to manage a registry. I’ve seen a number of extensions that I think will be successful with a strong marketing effort (such as the geos mentioned above), but I’ve also seen a number of head scratchers that just don’t seem to make sense, no matter what the marketing effort will be.

I do think there’s a place for gTLD domain names, and I also think anyone who is pining to manage a registry should pay close attention to what’s working and what isn’t working.

Antony Van Couvering Named CEO of Top Level Domain Holdings

Top Level Domain Holdings CEOI just read a news release announcing that Top Level Domain Holdings has named Antony Van Couvering its CEO. Van Couvering previously served as the company’s Chief Operating Officer, and he is also CEO of Minds + Machines, a company operated by TLDH.

Van Couvering is one of the most intelligent and well spoken individuals in the domain space. He is an expert in the workings of ICANN, and his appointment to CEO has to do with this expertise. He is also one of the most well-versed individuals when it comes to the new gTLD domain names that are expected to be rolled out in the not so distant future.

Top Level Domain Holdings is a public company, and its stock is traded on the London Stock Exchange, under the symbol TLDH. Congrats to Antony on this well-deserved promotion.

Vegas.com Backed by County for .Vegas gTLD While City Backs Other Entity

Vegas.comAccording to an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal, the operators of the famous Vegas.com website won a key endorsement from Nevada’s Clark County board of commissioners to run the .Vegas gTLD if and when ICANN approves the introduction of these domain name.

The county vote was unanimous, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that Vegas.com’s operators will actually be able to manage the .Vegas suffix. The city of Las Vegas previously endorsed Dot Vegas, Inc., another organization that would like to run the .Vegas gTLD. I personally find it a bit odd that another entity won considering the strength of the Vegas.com brand outside of Las Vegas… but what do I know.

Of course, the big winner in this will be ICANN. I presume both entities are going to have to pay ICANN a LOT of money to apply for the gTLD, and then ICANN can decide whether Clark County or the City of Las Vegas has the greater right to select an organization to manage the registry. This is another big issue that ICANN will need to sort through before they make their decision.

With millions of dollars at stake, all of the minor issues will certainly become major. Since the Clark County commissioners have been told the .Vegas gTLD “eventually could generate millions of dollars in fees for the county,” they probably won’t take a rejection lightly and litigation could follow. I guess it’s a good thing that ICANN is charging so much for applications – the legal fees could become enormous (imagine if the State of New York wants a .NewYork while New York City wants .NYC).

No matter whether Vegas.com gets awarded the .Vegas suffix or not (if/when ICANN approves their introduction), they will still be the winners when people type in things like hotels.Vegas.com and vacation.Vegas.com

What If a Domain Registry Shuts Down?

I saw a thread on a .Mobi domain discussion forum that posed the question, “When will dotMobi shut down?” I know discussions about certain domain extensions are always hot button topics, so I want to refrain from the discussion about specific extensions. However, I want to ask if you have ever considered what would happen to your domain names if a registry were to shut down? I’m not talking about a registrar like RegisterFly.com, but a registry that manages an entire domain extension.

Think this is far fetched? Apparently there were issues related to the company that operated the .Travel registry, and with the potential for a significant amount of gTLDs possibly forthcoming, I believe this will be an eventual issue that domain investors need to consider when purchasing domain names. John Levine discussed this in a blog post back in 2007:

“Given how small .travel is, the resolution is less important for what happens to this particular domain than for the precedent it sets. If ICANN ever comes through with all the new domain names they’ve been promising for the past decade, sooner or later some domain will do a bubble, get wildly successful while firmly cash negative, then run out of money and pop with a million registrants in limbo. That’ll be fun.”

I am in complete agreement with what Levine said above. I’ve received a number of press releases, Facebook fan page requests, and other emails indicating that there will a ton of new extensions. Some potential extensions right now include .horse, .eco, .sport, and even .zulu, mentioned by ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom.   In my opinion, it is likely that there will be gTLD extensions that fail due to financial circumstances.

I don’t see a reason why anyone would want to operate a money losing registry, and this could happen if an unpopular gTLD extension is approved and it isn’t embraced by the public. This could be especially prevalent if consumer adoption of gTLD domain names isn’t as quick as many people hope.

When you buy domain names, have you ever considered what will happen if a domain registry shuts down due to a financial problem? This is another good reason for you to become knowledgeable about ICANN. Andrew discussed it before, I and I want readers to be aware of the potential issue.

Message from ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom

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ICANN LogoNewly appointed ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom posted a message today on the ICANN website with updates on a few key topics. Beckstrom discusses IDNs, DNSSEC, New gTLDs, and the future of ICANN and the Internet (albeit briefly).

Regarding the new gTLDs, Beckstrom notes the original memorandum of understanding with the US Government from 1998, which stated, “Oversight of the policy for determining the circumstances under which new top level domains would be added to the root system.” New gTLDs are definitely going to be introduced, and I hope ICANN is prepared to handle everything associated with new companies entering the registry business.

In the message, Beckstrom cites a letter from the chief of the Zulu tribe who intends to move forward with the .Zulu extension. It’s great that this could open the Internet to groups who want to manage gTLDs, but I can’t   imagine enough companies wanting .Zulu domain names to run a viable business on .Zulu. Hopefully there will be plenty of measures in place in the event that a registry fails. I digress because it’s not really the point, but there are a whole host of issues to consider.

Anyhow, I applaud the openness Beckstrom is showing, and I hope to see it continue.

ICANN Meeting in New York on July 13

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ICANN LogoI just registered to attend the upcoming ICANN gTLD meeting in New York City on Monday, July 13, 2009. There is no cost to register for the event, and I recommend that domain owners in the New York area attend the meeting.

This may be the last chance to express your opinion, as a domain name owner, about the IRT and URS proposal. At the very least, it’s a good opportunity to meet ICANN leaders and learn about how ICANN works.

Here are the details for the NY Meeting:

Date: July 13, 2009
Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Location: Hudson Theatre, Millennium Hotel – (145 West 44th Street, New York, NY)

If you can’t make it to the NYC meeting, other meetings are scheduled for locations around the world, including London (July 15, 2009), Hong Kong (July 24, 2009) and Abu Dhabi (August 4, 2009). Again, it’s free and easy to register online.

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