Auctions for deleting domain names

Steven Forrest’s Free2Innovate speculates [ http://free2innovate.net/archives/000399.html ] on the reasons for SnapNames move to an auction based model for the sale of deleting domain names. He points out that I am a director of SnapNames and as such may be able to throw some light on things.

A couple of points. As a director I really can’t talk publicly without Board and Management agreement. So sorry, no insight on this from me.

However, I guess it’s OK to talk about the general area. Ross Raider and Elliot Noss from Tucows – http://byte.org – posted an article [ http://www.byte.org/blog/_archives/2004/9/3/135064.html ] on this area late last week. Their point is that the market is still evolving and that ultimately the registrant will need to be part of the bargain when a deleting name is sold, wehther by auction or some other method.

There is a great deal of change in the market for deleting names. This change is generally market driven and generally good. I believe that there is more to come. I do not think that WLS is nullified by these changes. However, I do believe that the business model for WLS [by which I mean, generically, a registry level delivered service through which the deleting names can be offered for resale by registrars] will have to evolve as a result of what the market has taught everybody.

The rapidity of the change is also a strong element in understanding why ICANN should really stay out of business model issues. WLS really should just be an agreement to create a market for deleting names. the specific models should be a market decision forged by all those in the space.

A centralized system still makes a lot of sense. The business model that was implied in WLS is probably revealed as outdated by the efforts of Pool, Dotster, eNom and now SnapNames. But a coherent, TLD wide solution for the resale of deleting names is still logical.

The only real challenge is economics. How to structure such a system in a manner that all players [registrants, registrars, registies] are fairly rewarded for thier role in the process. This is a matter for negotiation between the three entities. I believe the registry is best placed to start this dialogue and Ross and Elliot have, in a way, opened the way for that.

The next step is rational discussion between all sides. Probably bi-lateral at first and multi-lateral later. ICANN’s role will be to recognize any consensus that emerges, preferably quickly, so that the market can get on with what it does best – commerce.

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Keith Teare

Keith Teare is a Silicon Valley based, UK born, entrepreneur. He was involved at the founding of Accelerated Digital Ventures, Archimedes.Studio, RealNames and EasyNet. He was also founding shareholder in TechCrunch. He is US Managing Partner at ADV.

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