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April 1, 2015

CentralNic gets .love (and plenty of other sought-after domain name extensions)

CentralNic (LON:CNIC) has added a clutch of new Internet addresses to its portfolio of top level domain names (gTLDs).


The group has picked up a number of the most sought-after new domain extensions including .online, .site, .tech, .love, .forum, .fan, .rent, and .realty, which will be available to potential users exclusively on CentralNic’s platform.


The group also recently won the competitive tender to be the exclusive technical platform provider for the .coop TLD.


So far, CentralNic has launched nine gTLDs including wiki, .ink, .bar, .rest, .press, .host, .website, .space, and .xyz, with 940,000 domains (and counting) under management currently.


The .xyz domain is the best seller to date across all of the new gTLDss. It is now sold actively by 108 accredited registrars and represents 18% of the 4.8mln new domains registered.


As chief financial officer Glenn Hayward explained to Proactive Investors, the .xyz top level domain is a mass-market retail domain, aimed at all users including generations X, Y and Z.


“They [the registrars selling .xyz] have got a strong consumer base across a wide range of geographic regions. We believe .xyz has one of the most extensive distribution networks of any of the new gTLD’s and we’re pleased to have effected the technical integration with our registrar partners,” Hayward said.


CentralNic added that .design will become generally available after 28 April, while .college is going through the launch process.


Another nineteen domains are being prepared for activation including .fans, .feedback, .contact, .pid, and .tickets.


Hayward told Proactive Investors that take-up of the new TLDs is expected to be driven by the combination of demand from the market, raised by growing consumer awareness of the new domain choices available to them, combined with “push through the [distribution] channel through the promotional activities of the registrars”.


To date, the new gTLD regulatory process for registrars has been drawn out, but it seems that now those issues have been overcome and many more registrars are adopting the new gTLDs as they seek out the new growth opportunity.


“The real catalyst, though, is likely to be when a major brand such as Google launches something into the market; that will really alert potential customers that the Internet domain name system has gone through a significant change,” Hayward said to Proactive, while acknowledging that to date, initial demand for the new gTLDs has been largely from the tech-savvy crowd.


Certainly, competition for gTLDs – the bits after the final dot in a web site address – is plenty fierce enough for what are seen as the big earners.


Reportedly, .tech – which will run on CentralNic technology – went for US$6.8mln in a recent auction, while Google paid “a whopping US$25mln” for .app.


Meanwhile, in the US, web hosting company GoDaddy has priced its initial public offering at US$20 a share, above the expected range of US$17-19, valuing the company at several billion dollars. Initial trading today opened at over $26 per share, evidencing a desire amongst investors for Internet domain related stocks.


The company has achieved that valuation despite being unprofitable, but as Hayward observed, GoDaddy has “turned up the dial on the marketing” as it chases market share and tries to increase its average revenue per user above US$100.


“That’s a key metric for them,” Hayward said.


“I like what they are doing in terms of diversifying their revenue streams, adding in additional value-added services to their SME customer base” he added.


A number of corporations have also signed up with CentralNic’s platform with brands or business names including Saudi Telecom, and The National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts in the US.


Ben Crawford, CentralNic’s chief executive, said: "I am delighted that so many of the savviest gTLD applicants, from successful entrepreneurs to global blue chip companies, have selected us to partner with them to deliver their gTLDs.”



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