I have largely been quiet on ICANN related issues on my blog and in personal conversations I’ve had with other domain investors. Truth be told, I know about how ICANN works and what their role is as it relates to domain names, but I have very limited knowledge about the internal politics at ICANN and the history of the organization.
Whenever I see photos of ICANN events, I see a group of people who look much different than typical domain investors, and that is because they are much different. This is neither here nor there, but I feel very disconnected with ICANN, much like I am disconnected with my local politicians. Sure, Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Schumer, Governor Patterson and countless other local politicians work to draft and approve legislation that will impact me, but I am not going to spend thousands of dollars lobbying and hundreds of hours becoming active in the community when the threat of any legislation will probably be minimal.
I am 100% in agreement with Mike Bekens that domain investors either don’t know or don’t care enough about ICANN. Sure, some of their policies may impact my bottom line, but honestly, whether I pay $7.60 or $10.00 for a domain registration, it won’t be impactful enough for me to spend a whole lot of time or money thinking about it. For my business, I work 15 hours a day developing my websites, negotiating to buy and sell domains, and contacting small businesses to sell advertising. With my 200+/- domain names, even a 50% increase in registration fee will cost under $1,000 per year. Even if they approve a pricing structure like .tv, it will be impactful, but the 10-15 names of mine that would be impacted aren’t worth the time and effort for me (at least in my opionion).
I also understand the potential impact of the vanity TLDs that may be approved by ICANN. However, I think companies like Verizon and Microsoft have much more to lose if/when this happens. I just don’t see a reason to spend time on this when they are fighting on the same team as me on this battle (and they are fighting). I also don’t think other extensions will have much of an impact on my holdings. If .xyz becomes the prominent extension, I will adapt my business model to make sure I am not falling behind.
Sure, this line of thinking could bite me in the ass, but I have to manage the day to day operations of my business more than outside factors. I think the Internet Commerce Association and its activities are very helpful to the domain investment community, and I will continue to support them. I happen to think my risk exposure to some current ICANN initiatives are less important than managing my business at this point.
I will continue to listen to people like Mike (who I have the utmost respect for), and when he discusses an issue I will listen and take the time to think about the impact. Mike is dead-on about most domain-related issues, and I support him 100% of the time. With ICANN, I feel like the current issues will have minimal impact on my business. Now I think the potential issue of ICANN changing jurisdiction will be impactful, but again, I think other huge corporations and the US Government will end up locking horns on that issue.
I do urge people to read up on ICANN and determine the impact it will have on their domain investments and on their business.