ICANN moves forward with Verisign plan to auction O.com domain name.
Single letter .com domain names are very rare. They aren’t just limited to the 26 letters of the alphabet; there are just three.
Verisign (NASDAQ:VRSN), the registry for .com, isn’t allowed to allocate any single letter .com domain names. Three .com domains were registered before this restriction: q.com, x.com and z.com.
CenturyLink owns Q.com, which was used by Qwest. Elon Musk (re) acquired X.com last year for an undisclosed amount. Nissan sold Z.com to GMO for $6.8 million in 2014.
That’s it, but this might change soon.
In November 2017, Verisign submitted a request to ICANN to allow it to release the O.com domain name. Verisign wants to auction the domain name and donate the proceeds to charity.
It likely picked this domain name because competition for it should be high. Overstock.com really, really wants the domain.
ICANN was concerned that allowing Verisign to auction the domain could be a competition issue, so it referred the matter to the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice. The DOJ declined to open an investigation into it.
So ICANN is moving forward. The .com contract would need to be amended to allow for the sale of O.com, and it has opened a comment period for the amendment.
What’s Verisign’s game here if it is going to donate the proceeds to charity? There are two possibilities that come to mind.
One is that Verisign is using this as a proof-of-concept and hopes to be able to sell other one letter .com and .net domains in the future and keep the proceeds.
Alternatively, if it never gets to keep the proceeds, Verisign could use the press from this domain (and future one letter domains) selling for a lot of money to solidify .com’s brand.
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Author: Andrew Allemann