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So you want to apply for a new gTLD in the second Round of the ICANN new gTLD program?

Jean Guillon

New domain names are now on the market and you start to realize that you may have missed the train by not submitting your own new gTLD application. So why not get your part of the cake and consider applying for your own new Top-Level Domain in the second Round of the ICANN new gTLD program? Why not become a "Registry" and sell domain names… to the world?

New gTLD Service Providers will tell you all about it

There are many offers on the market: those from back-end Registries (technical platforms), those from Registrars, those from expensive Law firms and those from new gTLD consultants. Just like you, everyone wants his part of the cake but you will need to ask yourself one thing: if you apply, will you be the one to earn money and what is your exact objective?

Here is a list of service providers with an offer to apply for a domain name extension, I also suggest to ask your Accredited Registrar, he probably has one too:

Back End Registries:

CentralNic:
https://www.centralnic.com/services/newtlds
(based in UK and other countries)

Open Registry:
http://www.openregistry.com/
(Luxembourg/France)

Verisign:
https://www.verisigninc.com/en_US/channel-resources/domain-registry-products/new-gtlds/index.xhtml?loc=en_US
(based in the USA and other countries)

Neustar:
http://www.neustar.biz/services/domain-name-registry
(USA and other countries)

Afnic:
http://www.afnic.fr/fr/produits-et-services/nouveaux-gtld-solutions-de-registre
(France)

These are the first names to come to my mind but list is long and there are other major back-end Registry providers in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Cayman Islands and the USA. Existing ccTLDs (country code Top-Level Domains) often have an offer too.

Registrars:

eBrand Services:
http://www.ebrandservices.com/solutions/dotbrand.html
(Luxembourg/France)

SafeBrands:
www.safebrands.com
(France/Hong-Kong/Canada)

Most other Corporate Registrars such as NetNames (UK), Prodomaines (FR) and Markmonitor (USA).

Retail Registrars such as GoDaddy or AlpNames don't have an offer yet but offering a customer to apply for its own .BRAND should become easier in the coming years and I heard offers coming from retail Registrars.

Law Firms:

They are more and more to offer to apply for a .BRAND but most sub-contract their offer to new gTLD specialists and it happens that the person you will be talking to makes vocabulary mistakes when providing consultancy services on new gTLDs: this is a bad sign. I won't list these here for the reason that they are too expensive and I believe it is just not their job (but I have an excellent name in Paris if necessary).

New gTLD Consultants

They are more and more on the market and some are really experienced: but what does "experience" mean? New gTLD Consultants can be an extra cost to your application but some really know how it works behind the scene. Some have submitted applications for their .BRAND clients, some have participated in multiple new gTLD applications, some have created geo TLDs "all by themselves" and some have led projects for Registrars' clients. Some bla-bla a lot because they belong to working groups at ICANN while some don't even have a website but are worldwide super star for their capacity to submit applications.

New gTLD consultants have a good advice: they are able to tell you if your back-end registry is too expensive or if your law firm is fooling you, they also know "who is who" and you seriously need this if you want to avoid a bad experience: ICANN is a strange place. Some applicants really succeeded after hiring external consultants. Now, their experience includes the first Round of new gTLDs and many lessons were learnt: on the real potential of niche TLDs, on estimations, on how to fill-in certain questions of the application, on how much to gather to apply, on potential competitors, on confidentiality and what you should not say nor write, on how to take down a competitor, on the choice of submitting a generic or a community application, on the reasons why some new gTLD applicants are moving their project to another back-end Registry…

An independent consultant will be able to study your project and lead it from helping you select the right partners to selling domain names. It is an external eye I strongly recommend since applying for a new gTLD requires to work with different partners and as usual: some are good ones, some are bad ones.

You will hear everything that you want to hear

Sales figures will be there and you will earn millions in the first year after your application has been delegated by the ICANN (note this can take longer than expected). There is a risk to have an objection, a GAC early warning, delays, etc… but "we now have the experience of the first Round and these risks are now very limited".

The fun thing about "Round 1"is that nothing worked the way it should have, except for a very few who, not only were already experienced, but who considered applying for a domain name extension which had a potential market and which made sense: a club is a club in many languages and there are many clubs in the world.

Many new TLDs have launched for months and have not yet reached the 1.000 registrations: do not expect to sell 100.000 new domain names in the first year of your application. This is a dream…

You can sell at a high price but it is risky; you can count on Premium domain names to generate fast cash or think your Pioneer Program will generate enough cash for you to reinvest it in your communication; you can make your domain names almost impossible to register, thinking your potential buyers will want to make the effort. We have had all these examples and lessons were learnt.

You will hear things like "we have launched dozens of TLDs for our clients" but your number one question should be: do I want to sell domain names to earn money or do I want to launch an extension to offer a certain industry, group or market its own identity and no matter how long it takes? I believe it can take far longer than expected and launching a new gTLD comes with earning money: no sales, no visibility and vice versa. There are many ways and strategies for a first launch but you certainly do not want to launch a TLD which will end year one with less than 1.000 domain names registered. This is what is happening in Round 1 unfortunately. If you think Round 2 will be better, think twice, unless you are ready to give away domain names.

You will also hear things like "we are members of the GNSO working group" so we know what we are talking about. An ICANN insider tried to convince the French Government for the American .VIN new gTLD ("vin" means wine): look at the result today. Note that I could be wrong on this example and this would be the way in the end!

You will also hear things like "we have launched many TLDs in Round 1": look at the figures. Of course, criticizing others is easy and it is not what I am trying to do here (even if my sale figures dated 2010 on .WINE are still good). No, I want to focus on the fact that the first Round of the ICANN new gTLD program was the first Round, the approach for Round 2 should and will be different.

Did you expect so many new gTLD applicants in the first Round? No one did… applicants in particular.

There are things that you won't hear

You won't hear things like these with your future partners but if you have hired a new gTLD consultant with no interest in the number of domain names sold, I suggest you ask him your partner's possible answer:

  • "We launched TLDs but our figures were completely wrong";-
  • "We lost clients because we forgot to explain to them that our role consisted in being a back-end Registry...only";
  • "Accredited Registrars won't do it all for you";
  • "We could be in conflict of interest" (note this can expose your application to problems);
  • "We know about a competitor" (your partners may want to have you as a client, no matter if there is competition: the more competition and problems, the more money is required to solve them);
  • "There will be an extra cost for facing an objection or a GAC Early Warning" (be careful with this one :-).

My advice

Of course, I have my own experience and I can tell .WINE is a very good one:

  1. Don't tell the world about your next .SEO project unless you are certain there won't be an Afilias like listening: it is what happened with .WINE;
  2. Take the time to select your new gTLD service providers and don't tell a potential partner about which string (unless it is a .BRAND) you plan to submit an application for before you are certain he is the partner to work with. If a partner is not selected in the end, expect the entire industry to know about your project prior to the official publication by ICANN. Our industry is very small and NDAs guarantee nothing;
  3. Do not let your back-end registry provider tell you all about it: he is the one to earn money every time you sell a domain name : he won't be the one to provide the cash for your communication, you will;
  4. In any project, the rule is 50% of your budget in your communication;
  5. A very personal one: I think short TLDs are better but simplicity and precision come first: I like the .INTERNATIONAL and .CONSULTING new gTLDs. What about .WED and .WEDDING? I go for .WEDDING;
  6. Singular or plural? I go for singular;
  7. Don't help any member of the GAC try to deal with you: run away from them unless you don't have the choice. The ICANN new gTLD applicant guidebook is a methodology provided by ICANN: stick to it and if you have a doubt with this: watch how .WINE issues are going to end;
  8. If you can build your own team with experienced people you know and trust, then this is the best way;
  9. A Community project started early enough with a good endorsement could make the difference in the second Round;
  10. Do not enter the game with no money;
  11. Be careful with nice looking Domain Name Associations: most of their members are new gTLD service providers who want one thing: your money;
  12. This one is very personal: .com domain names are for domainers, the future is precision with new gTLDs.

Still want to apply?

You have time in front of you, there is no hurry. Do not listen anyone tell you that 3%, even 1%, of a population will buy your new domain names because we still do not know about this and actual results show that it is not true. If you have an easy access to a specific group or industry and this industry has a relation with internet, then we may have a subject to talk about. I am interested in investing in a project in Round 2, we can talk about it.

By Jean Guillon, New gTLDs "only".
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Related topics: ICANN, New TLDs
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Singular or Plural John Berryhill  –  Sep 24, 2014 9:45 AM PDT

Singular or plural? I go for singular

IMHO, there is no general rule here.  Most days, I put on "pants" and "shoes", unless I'm in a hurry.

Lol Jean Guillon  –  Sep 24, 2014 11:15 AM PDT

It is a personal opinion really, I understand Plural too but I misunderstand both at the same time.

Do you have inside information? Alex Tajirian  –  Sep 25, 2014 1:13 AM PDT

Do you have inside information?

What do you mean? Jean Guillon  –  Sep 25, 2014 1:17 AM PDT

Inside information on what?

Inside information refers to information by “insiders” Alex Tajirian  –  Sep 25, 2014 10:31 AM PDT

Inside information refers to information by “insiders” that is not publically available and cannot be legally obtained. Without such information, a new gTLDs investor would not generate enough return to compensate for the inherent business risk.

I do. Jean Guillon  –  Sep 25, 2014 11:03 AM PDT

On .WINE, I have "a few ones"… Regarding conflicts of interest we probably all know the same things but as you state it: the legal aspect related to the publication of this info could be a problem for me. A funny article was recently published (in French) and there is an interesting Statement from Fadi Chehadé: "Un membre de notre conseil d'administration a offert à la France de réserver le «. vin», mais cette dernière nous a répondu que ce n'était pas nécessaire". It says that an ICANN Board Member offered the French Governement to reserve the .VIN new gTLD but France refused: isn't this information kind of new to you? It is to me and I believe that there is a mistake in the article bbecause if there is not, I see a serious problem in ICANN's famous transparency. The best part comes after: Fadi Chehadé explains that an American Entrepreneur submitted an application and...obtained it. Unless I missed something, I din't know Donuts became the .VIN Registry.

Can someone confirm that so I can pick up my phone and call parties interested in Premium .VIN domains?

http://www.lefigaro.fr/secteur/high-tech/2014/09/23/01007-20140923ARTFIG00032-un-controle-centralise-d-internet-serait-un-desastre.php

"There are things that you won't hear" Jean William  –  Sep 25, 2014 7:53 AM PDT

"We could be in conflict of interest" (note this can expose your application to problems)

I would only add - the same question should be made to attorneys, as well.

A great article with good points made, thank you!

Attorneys...in .WINE ? Jean Guillon  –  Sep 25, 2014 8:25 AM PDT

Actually, there is a very good one about an attorney on .WINE. I think a good project in Round 2 is to build your TLD with your own team. An external attorney can change side.

Caveat Emptor Jean William  –  Sep 25, 2014 9:15 AM PDT

Thank you Jean,

I will check out the article on .WINE.

As a Small Business, we can testify that the right attorney on the right side is critical and can help keep the TLD venture focused on its mission, or lead it to ultimate failure (for a variety of reason).  We have now internalized our legal team and leveraged their relations when necessary.

I wish I knew back then 5 years ago, what I clearly understand now.

Huh? Adrian Kinderis  –  Oct 01, 2014 12:33 AM PDT

What makes someone a "new generic Top Level Domain specialist" exactly? How many TLD's have you run/ managed/ participated in? Is there an accreditation process?

Exactly what is the point of this blog? I'm confused?

Very good question. Jean Guillon  –  Oct 01, 2014 12:53 AM PDT

A specialist is to me, a person with knowledge of the market and its players (back-end Registries, Law Firms taking applications for their clients...) and who is not making profit from selling a TLD solution in the long term. An external advice is always welcome and I seriously encourage potential applicants in Round 2 of the ICANN new gTLD program to come with questions regarding future partners and prior to investing money into one of them.

I launched .EU. The .EU is the ccTLD for the European Union and it now renews more than 3 millions domains a year. "ccTLD" stands for country code Top-Level Domains.
Regarding my participation in TLDs, well there are a lot and I remember working on .PARIS a long time ago! I am also quite familiar with .WINE & .VIN :-)

Are you asking me if there is an accreditation process to apply for a new gTLD? (I am not sure I understand this question). If that is your question, there is one and I suggest you start here.

The point of this post (but I have a blog here where you are welcome to post) is to explain that applicants in Round 2 should pay attention to what they are told.

What is wrong with the specialist receiving Alex Tajirian  –  Oct 01, 2014 11:41 AM PDT

What is wrong with the specialist receiving an equity stake, and thus, an incentive to provide an unbiased assessment? However, such a compensation arrangement would be in conflict your criterion of someone “who is not making profit from selling a TLD solution”!

Gosh you got me! Jean Guillon  –  Oct 01, 2014 11:51 PM PDT

and...actually, it is what I do but most of the time it is a one shot and according to the need, I point to the correct service provider.

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