In 2018, Afilias published a sponsored article on CircleID announcing that the company was looking to buy domain extensions at NamesCon. That was a couple of years ago, and the company is advertising on Domain Incite with a prominent banner that makes it clear the company is still seeking to acquire TLDs. That got me thinking about whether there are more companies looking to buy domain extensions or more companies looking to buy domain name portfolios.
Over the years, there have been quite a few companies that acquired domain name portfolios. Companies like IREIT, Marchex, and Rightside have either acquired portfolios or already sold their portfolios. At the moment, I think the only companies interested in buying domain portfolios are GoDaddy (NameFind) and possibly Endurance (BuyDomains). From what I understand, the companies are highly selective and the preference is portfolios with at least 10,000 domain names that have a considerable number of liquid assets.
When it comes to TLDs, I think there are several companies that actively buy domain extensions. I am pretty certain XYZ, Donuts, and Afilias have all recently acquired new gTLD extensions and would acquire one or more given the opportunity. Even GoDaddy acquired Neustar and the extensions it owns and operates. There may be others I am not thinking about off the top of my head.
This makes sense to me. Companies that operate domain extensions can operate other extensions at a relatively low incremental cost. TLD operators also have existing deals with domain registrars, allowing them to easily integrate additional TLDs into existing deals. Depending on when the extension was acquired, there may be recurring revenue from registrations, and there may be reserved domain names that can be sold at premium prices.
With domain name portfolios, there aren’t many large independently owned domain portfolios that are available to purchase any longer. I would imagine there are a few that are available for the right price, but a portfolio acquisition is a very large sunk cost with high ongoing holding costs.
I would not be surprised if we learn about future domain portfolio acquisitions, but there aren’t many buyers right now. However, I would be very surprised if there are not future TLD acquisitions, as there seem to be several buyers actively seeking to acquire extensions.