In the latest Domain Pulse Q&A, we talk to Karn Jajoo, Head of Premium Portfolio at Radix, the registry behind successful new domain extensions such as .TECH, .STORE, .ONLINE, .SPACE and .SITE. Radix is one of the world’s largest nTLD portfolio registries with over 4M domains under management.
Jajoo discusses Radix’s impressive growth in 2018, the positive impact of the EU’s GDPR has been it’s spawned privacy discussions in developing countries with local data privacy laws, how registries should be deploying a long-term strategy now and keep away from the practice of trying to sell as many names as possible and instead focus on sustainable growth and usage and that the wider industry is developing products to support. Not unsurprisingly, Jajoo is excited about the prospects for the new generic top-level domains.
Domain Pulse: What were the highlights, lowlights and challenges of 2018 in the domain name industry for you?
Karn Jajoo: 2018 was a great year for new domains with some solid premium sales across top nTLDs, and two premium name sales over $500,000 that have set a new benchmark. Good meaningful names in suitable extensions will continue to find end users willing to pay a premium price.
Many globally popular brands warmed up to using new domains with the industry experiencing increasing adoption across different verticals globally.
There was also a 25% YoY growth in overall new domain registrations from registrars outside China; in fact, there were a total of 10 million registrations in 2018 vs 8 million in 2017. Specifically for us, it was a great year as Radix grossed $16.95M in total revenue in 2018, a 30% rise over its revenue in 2017. Radix’s net profit also grew by 45.6% in comparison to last year.
One of the biggest challenges for the new domains industry still remains to be the mindset within the domain industry. While there has been a gradual but definite shift in the perception of nTLDs within the domain industry, I think for many folks, an inherent conflict of interest leads to skepticism. Such biases need to be checked given the success of so many good nTLDs and plenty of use cases that continue to thrive.
DP: GDPR – good, bad and/or indifferent to you and the wider industry and why?
KJ: Much like others within the domains industry as well as other industries across the globe, the exercise to implement these changes in processes was challenging, and often confusing. Although, I don’t think we could classify it as good or bad. Instead of a binary judgment, we should look at it as a welcome change as far as the protection of private data is concerned.
On one hand, the domain industry seems to have coped well with the regulations that came into effect last year. On the other hand, DNS security agencies and counter abuse efforts have suffered a setback with redacted WHOIS information. The one positive effect of GDPR has been that data privacy discussions have spawned in other developing nations leading to the formation of local data privacy laws.
DP: What are you looking forward to in 2019?
KJ: As Radix, we are looking forward to becoming the biggest nTLD operator globally, and at the current growth pace, that could happen soon! We are already the only nTLD portfolio registry that has two of its TLDs with over 1 million domain registrations each.
We are also excited about the increasing number of startups that are investing in and using new gTLDs. Owing to the booming startup ecosystem globally, we can expect a lot of room for growth in new gTLDs in 2019. Our Startup League initiative now has 300+ startups that we are actively supporting.
As top nTLDs get more mainstream, their usage and acceptance would steadily increase, and so will the value of premium domains on nTLDs. We expect to make some big-ticket sales in 2019 and beyond.
DP: What challenges and opportunities do you see for the year ahead?
KJ: Registries should be deploying a long-term strategy now and keep away from the practice of trying to sell as many names as possible and instead focus on sustainable growth and usage.
A big positive for this industry is that partners such as domain marketplaces, brokerages, etc. are building more products and allocating time and resources towards marketing and selling new TLDs. Site builder SaaS platforms of all sizes are also starting to enhance their domains play and are understanding the importance of domain names as the gateway to more sales of their products.
DP: 2019 will mark 5 years since the first new gTLDs came online. How do you view them now?
KJ: Most extensions have been active for 2-4 years now and there is adequate channel and customer feedback on various aspects such as market segmentation, geographies, pricing etc. There has been considerable consolidation in the industry and many extensions that shouldn’t have existed in the first place are either declining in registrations or have ceased to exist, while meaningful extensions that offer customers genuine value have continued to grow.
Customer awareness and acceptance continues to be a challenge and an opportunity. We will continue to see a growing number of new domains spotted ‘in the wild’. We have a high decibel digital marketing campaign targeting end consumers running through various media channels for our flagship generic TLD, .ONLINE. We did similar campaigns for .STORE and .TECH last year and we can see their impact on the business.
I feel registries should be doing as much as possible to increase the pace of building awareness by communicating their value proposition.
DP: Are domain names as relevant now for consumers – business, government, and individuals – as they have been in the past?
KJ: I think domain names are more relevant now than ever. Trust between social media and consumers was shaken many times in the last couple of years and businesses realise that they need to ‘own their property’ i.e. their touchpoint with their customers or followers. If they only rely and build upon the property of someone else, they will always risk losing control of that relationship. Such dependence on social media has impaired many businesses which relied heavily on them for revenue or growth of the community. A good domain is an investment into your own brand and thus the best names will continue seeing higher valuations and interest in the coming years.
Previous Q&As in this series were with:
- EURid, manager of the .eu top level domain (available here)
- Katrin Ohlmer, CEO and founder of DOTZON GmbH (here)
- Afilias’ Roland LaPlante (here)
- DotBERLIN’s Dirk Krischenowski (here)
- DENIC (here)
- Internet.bs’ Marc McCutcheon (here)
- nic.at’s Richard Wein (here)
- Neustar’s George Pongas (here)
- CentralNic’s Ben Crawford (here)
- CIRA’s David Fowler (here)
- Jovenet Consulting’s Jean Guillon (here)
- GGRG’s Giuseppe Graziano (here)
- Blacknight Solutions’ Michele Neylon (here)
- Public Interest Registry’s President and CEO Jon Nevett (here)
- ICANN board member and founding auDA CEO Chris Disspain (here)
- InternetNZ’s Chief Executive Jordan Carter (here).
If you’d like to participate in this Domain Pulse series with industry figures, please contact David Goldstein at Domain Pulse by email to david[at]goldsteinreport.com.