Major acquisition shakes up domain name investor landscape.
GoDaddy (NYSE: GDDY) is acquiring the Uniregistry registrar and marketplace, Frank Schilling’s Name Administration domain name portfolio, and other associated assets for an undisclosed amount. [Update: it was less than $200 million.] It is not buying Uniregistry’s top level domain name business.
Uniregistry employees will stay on with the company, and Uniregistry offices in Grand Cayman and Manchester will continue to operate.
“We’re bringing in the products, the talent, and everything that made Uni what it is,” GoDaddy VP of Aftermarket Paul Nicks told Domain Name Wire.
“This is a big day for our industry,” Schilling added.
Schilling built a valuable portfolio of around 375,000 domain names starting at the turn of the century. When many people dismissed the value of domains after the dot.com bubble burst, Schilling saw an opportunity to pick up vast numbers of domains that others let expire.
That inventory will become part of GoDaddy’s portfolio of domains, which will now number about 1 million names.
Schilling gave a litany of reasons for the sale but he said it was not a forced sale due to his recent divorce.
“I thought it was a really fair purchase,” he said. “It makes sense. There’s a value to the portfolio, and then there’s the time value of money. I would absolutely, over a period of time, earn back the entirety and still have a very valuable asset at the end. But doing a present value discount and factoring in what I could do with that capital, it made sense to do this deal. At my age, crystallizing the value that we’ve created here and putting it to work in other ways makes sense.”
After building his large domain portfolio, Schilling turned his attention to building a registrar and marketplace to cater to domain name investors. Ultimately, it was going to take much more effort and capital to compete with GoDaddy, though.
“We’ve been able to pull off a lot with a very small team,” Schilling said. “It’s built to scale with a much greater userbase. If you bolt it onto Godaddy, merge it, all of the things that make it so great with all of the Godaddy platform behind it…what a combination.”
“You can go big or go home,” Schilling added. “And I’ve made a cognizant decision to go home. I’m going to focus on where I think I can add value.”
Schilling will now focus on the registry side of the business. In addition to owning top level domains such as .link and .tattoo, Schilling operates a registry platform and works with other registries.
Schilling has no plans to rebuild his domain name portfolio.
Nicks said that this is more than just an acquisition of domain names and domains under management.
“The [Uniregistry] registrar experience will become our domain investor experience,” he said. “Today, you’re toggling between [advanced and regular views]. I want a customer to be able to toggle right into that investor experience.”
The deal is expected to close in Q2.