The .Org Domain Racket

Breaking: Private Equity company acquires .Org registry
Tim pointed me to this article about the .Org registry that reports not long after ICANN lifted price caps on .org domains the Public Interest Registry (which is controlled by the Internet Society) was bought by Ethos Capital, a recently formed private equity firm.* In other words, the .org top-level domain (TLD) is now controlled by a group that can charge as much as it wants, and given it is a private equity firm, chances are it will do just that. Why does this matter to me? Well, .Org domains are one of a few TLDs Reclaim Hosting provides for free as part of our shared hosting accounts, and frankly it’s already more expensive than .com, .net, and .info domains. So, with ICANN’s move to remove price caps it seems the other TLDs will be following suit making it more and more difficult to provide affordable domains and hosting. Ultimately these costs get passed on to consumers given the pricing for domains in general is already quite steep. To give you a sense of this, we pay more than twice as much for domains registrations as we do for servers. In fact, besides payroll domain registrations are our single biggest cost. What’s more, we make next to no money on domains, and the more prices are inflated the harder and harder it is for us to swallow the costs given there’s already so little profit margin. It’s a shame to see ICANN go this route, and it given the news of  cPanel’s being acquired by an equities firm as well over a year ago, it seems the hosting and domain world is being swallowed up by the investment banking world.
  • If you read the above article you get a sense of how incestuous this whole deal seems:
Ethos Capital is a new private equity firm lead by Erik Brooks. Brooks was at Abry Partners until earlier this year. Abry Partners acquired Donuts and installed former ICANN President of Global Domains Akram Atallah in the top spot there. Donuts co-founder Jon Nevett left to be CEO of Public Interest Registry. The other person at Ethos is former ICANN Senior Vice President Abusitta-Ouri.