Last week Verisign dropped a bomb on ICANN by releasing a report that said that ICANN was not yet ready for the rollout of new top level domains.
Critics have suggested that Verisign has financial motives for slowing out the rollout of new TLDs, and they’re likely correct.
Regardless of what Verisign’s motives are, and even regardless of the merit of its concerns, the report causes significant damage to ICANN.
Call it the “pile on” effect. Because Verisign is so important in the domain name ecosystem, existing critics of the new TLD program can point to Verisign as an authority and use the report to rally the troops.
Exhibit A: Association of National Advertisers, the biggest new TLD scare monger, yesterday published a post called “Train Wreck Ahead“.
It refers to the Verisign report as well as a letter from PayPal warning about invalid TLDs already in use on private networks.
ANA suggests that it would be in Verisign’s best interests to get new TLDs out there as soon as possible because Verisign will make money from new TLDs. I disagree; I’d argue it will be a net negative for the company for at least a couple years. (.com values won’t go down, but the growth of registrations will continue to decelerate).
I have to admit, it seems that ICANN it saying “full steam ahead” despite having a lot of work to accomplish. Part of the the problem is the April 23 date ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé set for “recommending” the first new TLD for delegation. Regardless of when this recommendation occurs, I suspect it will be a while before anyone can register these domains. Trademark clearinghouse, new registry agreement, new RAA…these take time. Yet sometimes the only way to push something across the finish line is to set a very aggressive deadline.
The pile on effect will be very visible at the ICANN meeting in Beijing. My biggest curiosity: will ICANN publicly question Verisign’s motives for the report?