"We're preparing for the next Round"
There have been many announcements recently: Uniregistry (the Registrar) being acquired by GoDaddy and GoDaddy acquiring another Registry's business with Neustar Registry: isn't this a preparation for the next round of the ICANN new gTLD program? "Oh yes it is".
Many followed the news when GoDaddy acquired most of Uniregistry's business (the Registrar and
domaining business marketplace, as well as the CEO's domain name portfolio). It is an announcement when a Registrar acquires another. In this deal, GoDaddy acquired all BUT the Registry and Backend-Registry businesses from Uniregistry. It means that Uniregistry kept these two businesses. Since Uniregistry ("Uni" ?) now belongs to GoDaddy, it now makes sense to change name, and that new name is "UNR" (which seems to mean "Uni Naming and Registry). I like short names but please, get rid of "Uni" because in becomes confusing.
GoDaddy, the number one Registrar in volume of domain names registered, and which acquired Uniregistry, also acquired a Corporate Registrar named Brandsight but it is still unclear to me if this acquisition was to acquire the company's portfolio or if it plans to do develop a serious Corporate Registrar offer for its clients. Note that this would be welcome.
GoDaddy which had a "Retail Registrar" identity is now developing other identities: the Corporate Registrar one and the Registry one too (I would like to add the Backend-Registry identity too but the Neustar Registry acquisition remains unclear about this business).
Note that I make a difference between the Registry's business and the Backend-Registry's one since one is the governing body of a domain name extension selling to Registrars, when the other is the tool to allow the Registry to create domain names and there is a financial connection between those two: the Backend-Registry usually sells to the Registry; because most Registries cannot afford (or have the technical knowledge) to own their technical solution. They usually sub-contract this operation.
Very recently, GoDaddy made the acquisition of a major player's business named Neustar Registry: not "Neustar" but its Registry's business only. This is a major announcement because GoDaddy was not present in the first Round of the ICANN new gTLD program. It applied to its own dotBrand (the .GODADDY new gTLD) but never used it. The funny thing is that its .GODADDY domain name extension is operated by another Backend-Registry provider (...) which is not Neustar Registry (I would understand that this changes soon).
Now GoDaddy plans to become a major player in the new gTLD business, this could hurt a lot the Corporate Registrar's businesses since they were the one to offer the .BRAND application nad management service to their clients, subcontracting the technical part to Backend-Registry solution providers such as Neustar Registry. Note that Neustar was neither a Corporate nor a retail Registrar - and GoDaddy is already a Registrar, the most important one worldwide. Getting into that business means that future new gTLD applicants (.BRAND - Cities and Entrepreneurs) could be offered a key-in-hand-solution, having their digital assets operated by the same service provider, all in one place:
- A Registrar (Corporate or Retail) for their domain name portfolio management: all possible operations in all TLDs (legacy TLDs, almost all new gTLDs and almost all ccTLDs);
- A Registry (.BRAND - Generic, Community or Geographic TLD) for the technical operations of their new gTLD:
- .BRAND domain names operated in the exact same place where they manage their other domain names;
- Tools to operate a Registry dedicated to selling domain names to the general public maybe? Note that the solution provider to offer that service would probably be king, we learnt a lot from the first round of the ICANN new gTLD program and the complexity around the understanding of the process and the submission of an application were a serious issue: the provider to simplify that and what comes after...gets my serious attention.
- All other solutions (website hosting and marketing, email,
brand and domain name monitoring, security, etc...) invoiced in the same place!
My thought on all this
UNR keeps the Registry and Backend-Registry's businesses but recently announced that it intends to develop it. The word that I read in a press release was "dotBrand" by its CEO, and my understanding of this reading is that UNR will be present in "Round two" of the next ICANN new gTLD program with a new gTLD probable offer for entrepreneurs but also - and more precisely - for Trademarks with an offer for .BRAND new gTLD applicants. This is an important information for me because there won't be so many service providers with an offer around. Let's hope that they will consider the French market (JC: reading this?)
The strange thing about all this is that GoDaddy acquired someone else's business for the Registry and Backend Registry's businesses (Neustar) so there must be a reason behind this. The positive thing is that UNR will be in competition with GoDaddy for its Registry offer(s) and "price" is what made Uniregistry a good service provider because it was "cheap" (it was cheaper to buy a domain name with Uniregistry than Godaddy) so let's hope that their Registry solutions will be cheaper too.
What about Google Registry?
I stand-by because Google, not only offers a free technical registry platform (the Back-End Registry solution) but it also became a Registrar in 2014 and its domain name business is developing fast. Google also operates its own Registries on its technical platform so the only thing that is missing...is an offer. Round two is a little far away but no one can tell if there won't be an offer in a close future. Note that I already asked Google the question in 2017 and the answer was "no". For those interested in digging in that direction or looking for who's working on an offer, I'd suggest to check Nomulus.foo.