Verisign’s 10-K gives clues to how it is approaching a .com price increase.
.Com registry Verisign (NASDAQ: VRSN) published its 2018 annual report on Friday. I reviewed the document to look for information about Verisign’s hopes of raising the price of .com domain names.
Last year the U.S. Department of Commerce and Verisign agreed to Amendment 35 of their Cooperative Agreement. This amendment lifted a ban on price increases in .com that had been in place since the 2012 contract renewal with ICANN. It allows ICANN and Verisign to enter into a contract that would allow Verisign to increase .com prices 7% in each of the last four of each six years of the contract.
Verisign still needs ICANN’s approval to make this happen. So far it seems that Verisign is making two arguments to push this along.
First, that ICANN has historically deferred to the U.S. Department of Commerce on .com pricing.
Second, that its 2016 contract renewal anticipates this possible pricing change and that ICANN should approve it. Here’s language from Verisign’s 10-K:
Following the extension of the .com Registry Agreement on October 20, 2016, the .com Registry Agreement provides that we will continue to be the sole registry operator for domain names in the .com gTLD through November 30, 2024. As part of the extension of the .com Registry Agreement, the Company and ICANN agreed to cooperate and negotiate in good faith to amend the terms of the .com Registry Agreement: (i) by October 20, 2018, to preserve and enhance the security and stability of the internet or the .com TLD, and (ii) as may be necessary for consistency with changes to, or the termination or expiration of, the Cooperative Agreement. ICANN and Verisign are engaged in discussions related to these obligations, including modifying the .com Registry Agreement based on changes to the Cooperative Agreement arising from Amendment 35.
The use of the term obligations here suggests that Verisign will argue to ICANN that it is obliged to allow it to raise rates as allowed under Amendment 35. But take a look at the language in Amendment 35: Click here to continue reading…