Verisign and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently reached a deal that will allow Verisign to raise the price on .com domain name registrations (and renewals). The Internet Commerce Association (ICA) which represents the interests of domain investors and domain industry companies, had previously organized a campaign in opposition of the price increase. The campaign included a Change.org petition, which achieved over 2,300 signatures of support.
Shortly after the agreement between Verisign and the NTIA was announced, Verisign published a concerning article, which, in my view, seemed to mischaracterize domain investors and domain investing. The blog post referred to domain speculation as “domain scalping.” The company seems to have called out industry leaders GoDaddy and HugeDomains in the article. The sentence I found most concerning was this one that called into question the business of domain investing:
“Flipping domain names or warehousing them to create scarcity adds nothing to the industry and merely allows those engaged in this questionable practice to enrich themselves at the expense of consumers and businesses.”
I had always felt that Verisign supported the domain investment business. The company has sponsored industry conferences and it also advertised on domain investment blogs and websites (including mine, DomainInvesting.com). I might expect an article like this from a group aligned with IP interests, but not from a company that seems to have courted domain investors over the years.
This afternoon, the ICA fired back at Verisign in a CircleID article published by ICA General Counsel Zak Muscovitch. Included in the article, Zak shared what he believes Verisign’s role is in the domain space. He also defended the domain industry:
“The domain name aftermarket, to the contrary, is entirely lawful, highly competitive, and any profits earned are the result of successful investment in a free and open marketplace.”
Zak’s article is well worth a read.
Unfortunately, I don’t think we have seen the end of this scrap yet. I will be very interested to see if GoDaddy and/or Turn Commerce (operator of HugeDomains) publicly respond to Verisign’s comments.