ICANN Withholds Consent on .Org Change of Control

Late last night, ICANN announced that its Board of Directors “made the decision to reject the proposed change of control and entity conversion request that Public Interest Registry (PIR) submitted to ICANN.” A private entity company called Ethos Capital had a deal in place to acquire .org registry operator Public Interest Registry from the Internet Society. The news was shared on Twitter at around 10:30pm Eastern:

By withholding consent, ICANN has effectively killed the $1.135 billion proposed sale of the .Org registry operator, barring litigation.

The proposed deal had come under a great deal of scrutiny from many areas. Non-profit organizations, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), former ICANN leaders, the Internet Commerce Association and other groups and individuals were outspoken about the deal and ramifications of it. Three US Senators (Senator Wyden, Senator Warren, and Senator Blumenthal) also spoke out about the deal. What may have put the most pressure on the proposed deal was California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who had been in contact with ICANN regarding the pending deal.

In response to ICANN’s decision, Ethos Capital, PIR, and the Internet Society all posted statements on the KeyPointsAbout.org website. It does not specifically mention any plans to litigate or fight the decision, so it is not clear if this is the last we will hear about it.

As far as I understand, the operators of the .org registry have the ability to raise prices on .org domain names, so that will likely pose an issue for .org registrants going forward.

Kieren McCarthy of The Register published an article about ICANN’s decision, which has a great deal of insight about the decision and ramifications for ICANN. Kevin Murphy also published an article on Domain Incite with additional thoughts and information about the decision. You can also do a Twitter search to get the reactions from others who have been following this pending deal closely.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. You need to clean house, given no legal threats were made, maybe they going to make it up on the backend on a verisign sale etc… There is a lot of dirty business going on here, that affect millions of lives by virtually a dozen people trying to enrich themselves.

    Clean house!

  2. ICANN is still on strike 2, rejecting the .ORG deal doesn’t make up for ICANN allowing .ORG and .COM price increases and accepting $20 million from Verisign to amend the .COM contract.

  3. “As far as I understand, the operators of the .org registry have the ability to raise prices on .org domain names, so that will likely pose an issue for .org registrants going forward.”

    I highly doubt that ISOC/PIR really want to go down that path after this debacle. They have already lost much of their credibility with the .ORG community during this. Now they need to start working to build that trust back.


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