GoDaddy to Acquire Uniregistry + Name Administration

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GoDaddy announced a major corporate acquisition in a press release this morning. GoDaddy will be acquiring Uniregistry, the company founded and operated by Frank Schilling. Uniregistry operates a Cayman-based domain name registrar and domain name brokerage platform. GoDaddy is also acquiring Name Administration, a related entity, which owns a portfolio of more than 350,000 domain names. GoDaddy is not acquiring Uniregistry’s domain registry, which operates 26 new gTLD extensions.

The terms of the deal, including the amount paid to acquire these assets, is not being shared by either company. However, because GoDaddy is publicly traded and this was a substantial deal, we will likely learn some details in a subsequent SEC filing or quarterly report. The company typically bundles its acquisitions in quarterly reports, so it will not be easy to learn the exact price, especially given GoDaddy’s recent acquisition of Over. This deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2020.

From what I understand, GoDaddy will continue to continue to offer employment to Uniregistry employees. GoDaddy also plans to keep Uniregistry offices open, including its Cayman headquarters and its brokerage office in Manchester, England. Frank Schilling will continue to work with Uniregistry for at least the migration period, and he will operate the registry business post-acquisition.

One of the first changes Uniregistry customers will notice is that domain names registered at Uniregistry will soon become eligible for the Afternic Fast Transfer service. For the time being at least, Uniregistry will remain separate from GoDaddy. Eventually, Uniregistry will integrate within the GoDaddy investor channel, and I anticipate GoDaddy will leverage the Uniregistry branding in some fashion.

I am most interested to see how GoDaddy will utilize and enhance Uniregistry’s tools and services within its own products and service offerings. Uniregistry has distinguished itself from competitors with a Google-centric parking service and high performing domain name brokerage. The brokerage, which employees quite a few domain brokers in offices around the world, has brokered the sale of tens of millions of dollars worth of domain names.

There are several less obvious but equally important aspects of this deal.

– GoDaddy will undoubtedly be adding the Uniregistry expiry stream to its GoDaddy Auctions platform. I am not sure where Uniregistry expired domain names are auctioned today, but I assume they will soon flow to GoDaddy Auctions. This expiry stream could bring a windfall to GoDaddy’s bottom line.

– In the last year or so, Uniregistry has been more open about sharing some of its top domain name sales. GoDaddy is much more opaque about sharing sales data, so we will probably lose the Uniregistry sales reports. This will be disappointing. At least I knew there was a chance of learning a sale price after seeing a domain name sell via Uniregistry, but that will likely disappear.

– Frank Schilling has been an active bidder on NameJet, perhaps spending millions of dollars a year on that platform. I am not sure if Frank will continue bidding on NameJet auctions in the short term or long term. Perhaps he has made his money and will no longer have an interest in getting into the weeds with auctions. With Frank continuing to operate the Uniregistry domain registry, it is doubtful he will have a non-compete, so that remains to be seen.

– Finally, GoDaddy also announced it acquired Brandsight, a corporate domain name management firm. I think this is a hidden gem that may have gotten a bit lost in the press release.

This deal is a positive development for Frank Schilling, who parlayed his own success as a domain investor into the operator of a major industry company. This is also a strong acquisition from GoDaddy, as the company will acquire a huge portfolio of domain names and a widely acclaimed user interface for domain registrations and brokerage. I think this acquisition by GoDaddy also shows confidence in the domain name aftermarket.

It will be interesting to see how Uniregistry customers take to the news. Many will undoubtedly be happy for Frank, but I am curious to see how they will respond to this acquisition.

58 COMMENTS

    • I think there are some some industry folks who DID see it coming. I was one of them:

      https://www.namepros.com/threads/happy-new-years-what-is-your-2020-forecast.1170533

      See item 5.

      We should get some more hints on the February 13, 2020 year-end earning call. I am expecting them to do a restructuring charge. And then get that behind them before the April 2, 2020 investor day.

      The migration from legacy Godaddy to DNS will be an enormous project. However, no question they had to do it — like Moniker had to go to Key Systems. The legacy code had become non-maintainable.

      I wish them luck with this mega project and the related re-training of a vast customer base, especially if it involves retail customers.

  1. A couple more thoughts ..dynadot auctions off uniregistry stuff so they will lose that but most stuff gets renewed before anyways.

    I like the UI on uniregistry so i hope they don’t change that…they could lose the stupid ‘domain perks’ thing though. I don’t care for that.

    I’d like to keep my names at uniregistry but if they change the formula, I am out.

    Frank, an already very wealthy man is now an extremely wealthy man. I don’t see why he would bother to keep buying domains. Whats would be the point? You’ve worked hard, Frank. Time to enjoy it.

  2. Looks like a good outcome for everyone. Recent Uniregistry “innovations” looked somewhat insane, being sold is certainly better than slow decay…

    Uniregistry expired names are at Dynadot.

  3. I am half surprised…

    Congrats Frank for the journey, and thanks, you have been a true inspiraion for a lot in the domain industry, including me.

    And for sure, nice move for GoDaddy.

    • Given they been married so long, she probably owned half of everything. If the divorce is ugly, they usually want payout, or forced sale. Really sad to see this stand alone be grouped into godaddy, serves no advantage anymore.

      They tried to cut costs like grace period etc, probably to make projections look better.

      Looks like Taryn has been quiet as of late on NameJet also.

      All that is left is gtlds which will probably go to xyz parent.

  4. Most of us knew this was going to happen someday, the timing just had to be right.
    Individual domain investors are going to be hurt the most in this deal, less competition, higher prices etc. What else is new.

    • I think the big pressure in this space is commissions, I think Dan just got a booster shot with this. Lots of those landers are going to be on the move soon.

      • Commissions need to come down A LOT within the domain industry, especially at GoDaddy/Afternic. 20% commission is ridiculous! Everything is automated now.
        10% commission or less should be the standard in the industry.

          • When you sell your house, art, or your car in auction do you pay a 20-30% commission, these are physical based assets which need hands on showings, and inspections, and need to be put into an inventory lot and held etc… Why are domains so much more in cost, it is just taking advantage that is all, this might be the downside to todays news if it wasn’t for Dan,Efty, and Epik etc…

          • Art commission are about 25%. Cars I doubt are different unless it is a firesale type car auction where they just sell to dealers for any price.

            Perhaps go to you local car dealership and tell them they can sell your car in their dealership and if they are successful you’ll pay them 10%.

            Houses are obviously different because of the high transaction price.

    • As far as I know, GoDaddy acquired everything but the new gTLD registry. There may be 1.3 million names point to their IP, but many of those are owned by clients (like me) who use Uniregistry for parking services.

      I believe the 350,000+ number that was shared with me are the names owned by Frank’s company, Name Administration.

  5. Since GD doesn’t park their names (PPC) I wonder what will happen with Uni’s parking program. Their 350K names make up a good chunk of that traffic.

    • I think every employee might get a rum cake, and a pink slip. I can’t see godaddy keeping the cayman office open, makes no sense logistically.

          • Not sure.

            There might be value to some customers to have Uniregistry’s HQ outside of the US. Maybe there would be tax advantages to operating and/or running business via Cayman. I’m not sure if that matters post acquisition or if that will be a consideration.

      • I think around $100million may well be right (for the portfolio only, not Uni). The portfolio is going to get valued on a multiple of sales. Suspect they had about $20million in sales from the portfolio. Then subtract reg fees and then multiply by a multiple.

        Godaddy aren’t going to pay something crazy. They paid $28million for the Marchex portfolio which was once worth $164 million. They paid $35million for Berkens portfolio which included a lot of Chinese/liquid names right at the peak.

  6. Did Godaddy just buy their long awaited Afternic parking page, contact page platform.

    Instead of building it out, they just bought it, and can put it to work pretty quickly.

    Uni is the new afternic.

  7. It will be interesting to see how Uniregistry customers take to the news. Many will undoubtedly be happy for Frank, but I am curious to see how they will respond to this acquisition.

    ///////////////////////

    He has done well overall, seemed to go astray a bit with the new tlds but little doubt he did well with Uniregistry itself.

    As a Uniregistry customer I do not trust Godaddy as a registrar, mostly from a security point of view and the interface seems clunky and buggy. If I buy a name and it is at Godaddy I move it out ASAP.

  8. uniregistry was always shady in my opinion. i wouldnt trust putting my domains in an offshore banana republic operation. at any moment they could have closed and lost everything.

      • as a mainland american i just wouldnt do it. my domains are worth too much to just place them in an uncertain banana republic. its sleazy, i would not be able to sleep at night. Godaddy didnt need to buy this co, wasted money.

        • Funny, plenty of successful domainers did a lot of business with Uniregistry. GoDaddy also seemed to think highly enough of them to buy them out for scores or even hundreds of millions. Guess they should have retained your astute services to take a second look.

  9. The technology at Uniregistry’s aftermarket is twenty years ahead of Afternic’s platform. Hopefully GD will migrate everyone off Afternic and onto Uni’s aftermarket platform.

    The aspect of Afternic that deserves to be retained is their four categories of price listings, and which include floor and reserve prices that brokers can view, but buyers cannot.

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