Donuts Agrees To Takeover By Private Equity Investor

Donuts Inc., the operator of 238 new gTLDs with 4.007 million domain names registered, has announced it has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Abry Partners, a leading private equity firm. Terms and timing of the agreement were not disclosed.

The 238 new generic top level domain names in Donuts’ portfolio makes it the largest by far, and which was made even larger when it took over Rightside in 2017. But it has only the second largest number of domain names, behind Domain Name Ventures with 5.336 million, whose largest is .loan with 2.291 million registrations according to nTLDstats. The most popular Donuts new gTLDs are .ltd (473,900 registrations), .live (214,600) and .life (181,700).

Abry Partners was founded in 1989 and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s described as an experienced and successful private equity investment firm focused on media, communications, insurance, business and information services. Since its founding, ABRY has completed more than $77 billion of transactions, representing investments in more than 650 properties. In June this year it was announced it had purchased a controlling stake in Screenvision Media, a cinema advertising and film distribution company based in the United States. In August they announced they had funded the acquistition of AdSwerve, a leading Google Marketing Platform Partner, by Seattle-based Analytics Pros, Inc. – a top Google Analytics 360 and Google Cloud partner and reseller.

ICANN’s former President and CEO, Fadi Chehadé, is a partner at Abry. Chehadé was in charge of ICANN from September 2012 until March 2016. Shortly afterwards Chehadé commenced with Abry as well as being on the advisory board with the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He’s also a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation. Chehadé announced in August 2015, after he had announced his resignation, that he would commence his role with Abry upon leaving ICANN.

According to Bloomberg, Abry “prefers to invest in North America and Europe. The firm typically invests between $25 million and $150 million of equity in case of the private equity fund or between $15 million and $50 million of mezzanine/senior equity capital or between $50 million and $125 million in buyouts of mid market companies. It seeks to invest for a period between three years and seven years.”

“Individuals and businesses manage their digital identities in an increasingly complex world of proliferating devices, platforms and access points,” said Erik Brooks, Managing Partner, Abry Partners. “Donuts is ideally positioned with the world’s largest portfolio of new TLDs, a proven team with deep experience in scaling successful technology companies, and a track record of innovation in their industry. We are excited to partner with Donuts and support their next phase of growth and success.”

This announcement marks another important milestone in a period of exceptional growth and innovation for Donuts. In the last 18 months, Donuts has acquired Rightside, a complementary registry with a high-quality portfolio of 40 new TLDs and a wholly-owned registrar subsidiary, Name.com; it has launched BL.INK, a premier enterprise short link management platform used by leading brands such as Coca Cola, TEN (The Enthusiast Network) and many others, and added features for registrars’ and resellers’ SMB customers; it was named one of the Red Herring 100; it has launched Relevant Name Search (RNS), a powerful new domain search tool for channel partners; it was the first Internet registry to surpass the $500,000 mark in sales of individual new TLD domain names; and it was named Number One in the Deloitte Fast 500.

“We are delighted to partner with Abry,” said Bruce Jaffe, Donuts president and chief executive officer. “Over the last thirty years, the firm has built a stellar track record as one of the premier media, communications, business and information services-focused private equity investment firms in North America. We believe their confidence in Donuts underscores the power and magnitude of our opportunity. Moreover, their insights and expertise in our sector will be of enormous benefit to Donuts as we move forward.”