Uni Naming & Registry (UNR) is a domain name registry operator and backend services provider founded by Frank Schilling. The company was split off from other domain industry assets when GoDaddy acquired Uniregistry and Name Administration from Frank in early 2020. UNR has continued to operate a mix of its own domain name extensions and extensions owned by other companies.
Late yesterday, I noticed a recently launched website on Auction.Link announcing a major no-reserve auction for domain name extensions that are owned and operated by UNR. The company published a press release (below) with more details about the auction. In total, the company is selling 23 domain name endings, including:
Notably, the company will continue to manage back-end operations for these extensions and extensions owned by third parties.
While the auctions are billed as no-reserve, the opening bids vary for each extension. For instance, the opening bid for .Game is $3.5 million while the opening bid for .LLP is $0. Opening bid amounts for the other extensions are in that range. The auction will be finalized on April 28, 2021, and prospective bidders must register beforehand to participate.
I would imagine there will be a wide range of bidders participating in the auction, and I think it was a wise move to sell the extensions individually. I would expect to see companies like Donuts, XYZ, and Radix participate in the auction, and I could also imagine non-industry companies could be interested in buying one-off extensions. For instance, a company like 1-800-Flowers could be interested in buying the .Flowers extension for the right price (starting at $500,000).
After learning about the auction, I reached out to Frank Schilling to ask a few questions. I was most interested in knowing if he is entirely exiting the domain industry, and I wanted to get his thoughts about the state of the domain industry. Here’s what Frank shared with me:
“I will DEFINITELY have an involvement in the domain business – probably until I stop breathing, but my involvement is changing for now.
I honestly think the industry has never been more vibrant or poised for growth.. Clubhouse, and other forums shining the light on our corner of the Web. There is lots of activity and reinvestment and innovation happening.. The biggest problem is that for the last year nobody has been able to get together due to COVID and that has made many folks feel more insecure and perhaps vulnerable – but this industry has been one of the truly bright spots. We are lucky, sometimes we just can’t see the opportunity before us.. That’s human nature I guess bro.”
The UNR press release is below:
UNR to Make History with Largest Ever Top Level Domain
Name Auction Event on April 28, 2021
23 Domain Endings, Including .LINK & .GAME, to be Offered with No Reserve
Grand Cayman, KY — 1/27/2021 — Uni Naming & Registry (“UNR”), a leading domain name registry operator and backend services provider, announced today that it will be holding a one-day auction event for ownership rights to 23 Top Level Domains (“TLDs”) it operates. The event will consist of separate no-reserve auctions for each of the 23 assets, giving bidders the flexibility to only acquire the Top Level Domains that fit their strategies or budgets. To give bidders complete confidence in this fully-transparent event, the auctions will be conducted by industry-leader 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.
Due to their scarcity, the sale of even one TLD on the open market is considered extraordinary. These fundamental building blocks of the internet are online real estate that rarely trade hands – and almost exclusively via closed or private transactions. Even industry insiders are typically caught off guard when transactions around Top Level Domains occur. UNR is breaking new ground with this auction event due to both its scale and accessibility. 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:
.audio, .blackfriday, .christmas, .click, .country, .diet, .flowers, .game, .guitars, .help, .hiphop, .hiv, .hosting, .juegos, .link, .llp, .lol, .mom, .photo, .pics, .property, .sexy, .tattoo
The move to sell its Top Level Domain portfolio follows UNR’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. In an effort to democratize TLD ownership to businesses, individuals, and groups outside of the domain name industry, UNR 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.
“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 Top Level Domains 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.
Like other TLD sales, UNR’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 UNR’s backend, including .trust and .ky, will continue operating without any changes in ownership or management.
For more information about UNR’s auction event on April 28, 2021, or to register to bid in this never to be repeated event, please visit https://auction.link.
Uni Naming & Registry is a technology and services company that owns and operates 25 new domain extensions,
including .link, .help, .game, and .photo, on one of the most advanced registry backend platforms. UNR also provides registry services for a dozen third-party TLDs. Founded by internet visionary Frank Schilling, and supported by an incredible team of technology knights, UNR has experience launching and operating more than 160 domain extensions which are sold through 200+ retail partners worldwide, including Namecheap, GoDaddy, and MarkMonitor.
Learn more about UNR registry services at https://unr.link.