Fewer public companies mean less public information about the domain name industry.
The domain name industry has lost two public companies in less than a month.
Well, not technically. But it feels that way to me.
As someone who has written about the domain name industry for over 8 years, one of the biggest treasure troves of data I use comes from public company filings. Public companies disclose all sorts of details about their businesses in mandatory filings.
For example, Sedo has given me great insight into the ups and downs of the domain parking and domain sales business thanks to its public filings. The detail in its reports is unlike anything else publicly available about the domain parking business. (Except for a brief moment during the Monte Cahn vs. Oversee.net lawsuit in which lots of information came out.)
Now that’s gone. United Internet, the parent company of Sedo, is acquiring all of the outstanding shares of the company and making it a subsidiary. Having just read through United Internet’s latest public filing, it’s clear that not much data about Sedo’s business will be released going forward.
This follows the announcement last month that Marchex will not spin off Archeo, at least right now. Although Archeo was not its own public company yet, it still feels like a loss. Being its own public company would have given lots of insight into a large domain portfolio holder. In fact, when Marchex announced its plans to spin off the company the domain industry was blessed with information about hundreds of private domain sales.
Since Archeo will continue to be a division within Marchex, and since the company is actually operating it like a business, we’ll likely to continue to get more data about Marchex’s domain business than we did in previous years. But it will certainly be less than if it was its own publicly traded company.
On the plus side, more domain name registrars will soon be public.
Plans are moving forward for Demand Media to spin off its domain name business. Although Demand already reports some of the details about its domain business, much of it is meshed together with its content business. Perhaps that will include data about its domain parking business. Also, Endurance has filed to go public. Between Demand, Endurance, and Tucows, basically three of the top 4 registrars will soon be public.
Who knows, maybe even the top domain registrar will file for its IPO soon.