Afilias gets big contract win in Australia.
Domain name registry company Afilias has won a competitive tender and been selected by the Australian country code manager auDA to manage the .au domain name starting in July of 2018.
This is a big win for Afilias, and arguably a bigger loss for Neustar. Neustar acquired Australia-based Bombora Technologies Pty Ltd, which currently has the .au contract, back in 2015 for over $85 million in cash. While the business also came with a new top level domain name business, the majority of revenue was surely from operating .au.
The contract with Bombora ran through June 2018. auDA originally entered into exclusive negotiations with Neustar to extend the contract but canceled the exclusivity after Neustar announced that it was going private in a transaction led by Golden Gate Capital.
auDA subsequently announced that it was planning to work with contractors to build and manage the .au registry itself. It later changed its mind and said it would outsource registry operations. Nine companies responded to the tender.
Afilias SVP of and Chief Marketing Officer Roland LaPlante told Domain Name Wire that he believes a big reason auDA chose Afilias was because of “our expertise in doing transitions successfully so there’s no interruption of service for end users.”
Afilias took over the registry operations for .org in 2003. It was a transition nearly as big as this one will be. .Au has 3 million domains but fewer registrars than .org had back in 2003.
John Kane, VP at Afilias, will be leading Australian operations and the company plans to hire 20 people in Australia to manage .au. LaPlante said that Afilias will begin discussions with registrars this week and that registrars should have no concern about disruption of service.
Ram Mohan, Executive VP and CTO at Afilias, said ” We are laser-focused on a safe and seamless transition. It’s our A1 priority. John [Kane] is a very senior executive and is in Australia for that reason.”
While details of Afilias’ contract with auDA were not disclosed, LaPlante suggested that the price it will charge is less than the current contract with Neustar.
“We expect that the price of a .au domain will be a little bit less than what has been charged in the past,” LaPlante said. “It will be up to the board, but we recommended to take it down a bit.”
The registry transition comes at a tumultuous time for auDA, which has had significant turnover and is under a government review.