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Verisign to .Web losers: stop griping and carry on


Verisign responds to complaints about its deal for .web.

Paul Livesay, VP and Counsel at Verisign, has published a detailed response to Donuts’ and Afilias’ challenges over the .web auction result.

If you’re unfamiliar with the backstory: Nu DotCo was one of seven applicants for the .web top level domain name. It struck a deal with Verisign in which Verisign would fund Nu DotCo’s bid for .web, and Nu DotCo would then assign the registry agreement to Verisign after the agreement was executed. Nu DotCo won the auction for $135 million.

Other applicants for .web were upset for two reasons. In the case of applicants that wanted to win the extension, they now faced a formidable foe. In the case of applicants that just wanted to split the proceeds from losing, Nu DotCo was now insisting on a public ICANN auction in which the proceeds would not be distributed to losers.

Second-place bidder Afilias is in the first group. It wants to operate .web and is upset it lost, so it’s lobbying ICANN to disqualify Nu DotCo’s winning bid.

Donuts is in the second camp. It has sued ICANN, demanding its share of the proceeds it would have received if the auction would have been private.

Verisign’s response on CircleID is the most the company has said publicly about the deal.

The company says Afilias and Donuts are merely trying to profit at the expense of the community that will get Nu DoCo’s $135 million payment, or, in the case of Afilias, get the domain name for below market cost.

Let’s face it; Verisign does a lot of questionable things in defense of its .com monopoly. Its lawsuit against .XYZ seemed petty at best. But in this case, I think Afilias and Donuts are acting like sore losers.

Where was the uproar when Automattic came out as the winner of .Blog? Oh, well, that was a private auction, so the losers got paid off.

The idea of new top level domain names was not to enrich auction losers. Sure, it ended up being a great business model for some applicants. But to cry about an auction opponent not agreeing to a private auction?

Likewise, the complaints about the deal Nu DotCo and Verisign struck seem misplaced. It’s not like Verisign went through Nu DotCo to avoid being vetted in the application process. After all, Verisign is already running multiple top level domain names that it applied for. It seems that the losing applicants are trying to find narrow technical reasons to disqualify another applicant.

And let’s not forget that Donuts and Rightside had an intriguing deal to apply for over 100 domain names through Donuts.

I get it. If I were a .web applicant, I’d be pissed off about losing out on a windfall. But I’d fully expect people to call me a sore loser for doing so.

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