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.