8-year price cap, censorship and data controls would be baked into registry agreement amendment.
Ethos Capital, the company that is trying to acquire the .Org registry, took a big step today to try to push it over the finish line. It agreed to add a Public Interest Commitment (PIC) (pdf) to the registry agreement with ICANN that would enforce some of the promises it has made publicly.
The move comes after ICANN sent a letter to Internet Society, which current controls .org, making it clear that ICANN believes it has the power to nix the deal on grounds beyond security and stability.
Among the commitments is to cap the .org price for the first eight years. The price increase will be capped at 10% per year on average, and now “on average” has some teeth. It can’t be front-loaded, although the trigger date will be backdated to June 2019.
The current wholesale price of a .org domain is $9.93. That means that, after eight years, the price could be around $21, more than double the current price.
After eight years, PIR could change the price as much as it wants. (That might be about the time Ethos decides to exit the business.)
Before the Ethos announcement, Public Interest Registry said it had no current plans to increase the price of .org domain names.
Additionally, the .Org Stewardship Council will have veto authority on changes to .org policies around censorship and freedom of expression, as well as the use of .org registrant and user data.
PIR will also establish a Community Enablement Fund to support initiatives benefitting .org registrants. It will contribute $10 million to this fund during the remaining lift of the current registry agreement. That’s about $1 million a year.
Brad Mugford says
No Thanks. This is still a bum deal for registrants.
It is clear this deal does not, and will not, have the backing of the community. If ICANN still allows this to go through it is clear they are not working in the public benefit, as their charter states.
It changes nothing, and continues to point out the goal is greatly increased prices.
The one thing it does do is give us is the date of June 2027 as the date variable pricing, etc, will be brought to ORG … And the incentive of making up for 8 years of not being able to do it.
This also discounts Rod Beckstroms (former ICANN CEO and President) great comments about there not being a competitive bid for PIR and that the price Ethos is paying is clearly undervalued. I know everybody else has been saying it to, but those like Verisign has a much more difficult time discrediting the comments when they are made by a former ICANN CEO and President.
I recall Rod Beckstroms comments are towards the end of this video during the comments period. He was in the audiance:
Rod’s comments start at time index 01:34:13
Rod also makes some comparisons to Verisign. This reminds me that ORG is the first domino to fall, COM will be next, made much easier with the Ethos deal being completed.
Rubens Kuhl says
While I agree with Rod’s points, he is still a very controversial figure in the community, regardless of having been the CEO. So he might not be the best person to give credibility to these ideas… but taking out the ad-hominem, his points are totally right.
So they agree to “only” more than double the price of a .org domain in 8 years. From almost $10 to more than $21. How generous of them. They will only make an extra $458 million on top of the $800 million they will making from .org registrants in these 8 years.
Hhmmmm… Why isn’t PIR committing to these price caps right now? And ICANN will once again become the price regulator it was 2 months ago when it decided not to be a price regulator?
My god these people are desperate for this deal to go through. There is a lot of money at stake.
And I know Ethos Capital has already made a huge investment by hiring premium consultants like Fadi Chehade, paying law firms and PR companies to “facelift” the deal, paying for articles left and right, AND especially for “convincing” ICANN to lift the price caps and also “convincing” ISOC/PIR to approve the sale of .org. “Convincing” is open to free interpretation.
I don’t really care what the Ethos Capital vultures and the ISOC/PIR paper pushers have to say.
The .ORG extension is not a property of ISOC to sell AND price caps should NOT have been removed to any of the legacy TLDs. PERIOD.
I just hope the California District Attorney investigates deep into ICANN corruption and to why and how the price caps were lifted on .org, .info and .biz.
And I mention .info and .biz because Afilias and Neustar got what they wanted and nobody bothered to question this. They are currently staying low while this mess settles. Then the huge price increases will begin.
Since I remain banned at CircleID, perhaps one of you might consider making the following post there:
This article has 1300 views, this video only has 540 views:
Folks might consider watching that video. Former ICANN CEO and President Rod Beckstrom comments are at time index 01:34:13
The video is the “The Conversation We Should Be Having” mentioned here:
To the following thread:
It is a lot harder to discredit the comments of a former ICANN CEO and President. Thanks!
Andrew Allemann says
Charles, thanks – https://domainnamewire.com/2020/02/21/rod-beckstrom-org/
Thank you! 🙂
Mark Thorpe says
Smells like Donuts and desperation.
That’s very kind of them but NO THANKS !
No private equity firm for .ORG nor for any other legacy TLDs which are public resources and should be administered in the public interest.
Registrants are not here to pay yachts, sports cars, beachfront properties to executives of PE firms.
Legacy TLDs must have their contracts put for bid and prices must come down, not double within 8 years !
WHAT A JOKE !
So let me get this straight.
Even though Ethos said they would not raise prices by more than 10% on average per year, they have now REDUCED that commitment to only apply for the first 8 years?
Previously they committed to “no more than 10% per year, on average” – with no end date.
But now they are now saying they will only agree to this for 8 years. And they want to backdate the start date to June 2019?
What consumer protections are in place beyond 8 years (a little more than 7 years from today?) Prices can raise to whatever amount its monopoly operator decides – on its captive base of users.
When Ethos exits in 8 years (as all private equity factors exit price on its return on investment), it has every incentive to increase prices by the maximum extent possible. And ICANN will be in the same exact situation as we are today.
It seems Ethos is entirely negotiating with itself….. and it has significantly reduced what it previously committed to.
What a cluster fu*k.
You know we have a fundamental problem in the industry when the regulator (ICANN) is telling the world it no longer wants to regulate, but the monopoly operator who has the perpetual rights to operate the registry is willing to commit to a limited form of price regulation in order to compete a transaction / change of ownership.
Wow! an unbelievable state of affairs.
Think about the broader narrative.
The monopoly operator is attempting to price regulate itself because ICANN is not doing its job.
ICANN has failed its public interest commitment – by removing all pricing caps in the .org domain extension. ICANN suddenly decided (without conducting any analysis, without looking at competition issues, without studying the market, without consulting economist or experts, or seeking guidance or advice from any competition authority.)
ICANN simply woke up one morning – and decided it no longer wants to regulate prices – it announced its decision. ICANN did absolutely no work or put any thought into the ramifications of removing all price caps.
And in 7 years, the monopoly operator will be able to charge whatever amount it wants and harm consumers.
Wake up ICANN – removing price caps and ignoring almost 100% unanimous opposition during your public comment period was your biggest mistake.
Had you listed to the community – had you listened to all of the feedback and embraced the important points made, you would not be in this mess.
And it appears you are on the heals of making an even bigger mistake on the more important .com registry. You will ignore all public comments and allow Verisign to increase prices by 31% over the next 4 years – despite the fact that you previously had Verisign contractually bound to keep prices capped at $7.85 through 2024. Why would you walk back on your public interest commitment – and facilitate harm on more than 144 million registrants? Why allow Verisign to amend its contract more than 4 years early?
Or are your hands tied and you are unable to push back on Verisign? Thus, Verisign has ICANN in the palm of its hands.
Is Verisign essentially running this industry?
Excellent analysis John and a closing question that’s quite alarming but yet seems quite plausible.
In what other industry does a company get to put 10% annual increases into contract and that’s considered a win for consumers?
ICANN has failed the industry and should be shut down. It should be an International organisation not an American based arm of your joke non profit sector. Profits spent on international conferences, high salaries, etc. Yeah what a great way to screw a scam system.