More wasted money and resources. Get used to it.
It’s never pretty seeing the sausage get made.
It hasn’t been pretty seeing the new TLD program launch.
A handful of companies invested a lot of money early on as they worked to help form ICANN’s new top level domain program. As the program creation process dragged on they spent money on salaries, office space, etc. As it became clear that the process was going to take longer than expected they ended up laying off staff.
I recall talking to one new TLD consultant a couple years ago. He (half) joked about explaining to his family why they had to scrimp. He had been working from savings for years.
I didn’t feel too bad for these companies and consultants. They knew the game they were getting in to. They were creating a business based on an as yet to be defined process being developed by a non-profit run like a government agency. They were taking a risk with a potentially big reward, and those don’t always work out.
Now, however, ICANN has accepted over $350 million of new TLD applicants’ money and they’re still messing up.
During a session on new top level domain batching yesterday, an applicant stepped up the the mic to express his frustration. It doesn’t appear that the transcript is online yet, so I’m going to paraphrase.
“We never liked the digital archery system. But you told us it was required if we wanted to get in the first batch. So we invested three months of our engineer’s time to develop a system that would produce good results. Now you’re changing direction.”
This wasn’t some big applicant. I believe he said he’d applied for two domains. But to him, he’s made a substantial investment. He invested even more money to make sure he didn’t get screwed in digital archery, and this money was probably wasted.
ICANN did the right thing suspending (and hopefully canning) digital archery. But it waited too long. Countless people told ICANN there were problems with the system. We also had a high degree of certainty that ICANN would mess up the technical aspects of the system after what happened with TAS. Yet ICANN pushed on.
It seems that ICANN does this a lot. It wants to save face, so it doesn’t admit there are problems. Then the problems become too big to ignore. So it backtracks, but at that point even more damage has been done to both its credibility and people that are playing the game.
I don’t feel bad for new TLD applicants who invested lots of money early on before the process was settled; these were people who wanted to shape the process. And I don’t feel bad for companies that tried to make a buck off of digital archery.
But now that companies have given millions of dollars to ICANN, they should expect better.
Unfortunately, they should also expect to continue to get burned.