.WEB Sold For $135M To Somewhat Mysterious Bidder

ICANN new generic Top Level Domains logoICANN announced Thursday that the .web new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) sold for a whopping, and record, $135 million through an auction. The .webs new gTLD was also up on the auction block, but sold to Vistaprint for a rather paltry, in comparison, $1. There were eight applicants bidding for .web.

The successful bigger for .web was a mysterious company called NU DOT CO that many suspect is back by Verisign. Court cases and efforts by Donuts, Schlund Technologies from Germany and Radix from India to stop the auction because they believed NU DOT CO’s ownership structure was not clear failed.

The winning applicant, whoever NU DOT CO is, has beaten the previous record amount paid to operate a new gTLD, that for .shop which GMO Registry paid $41,501,000 for.

The proceeds from New gTLD Program auctions, which will total more than $230 million, are being reserved. The multistakeholder community will develop proposals for how these proceeds could be distributed. A community-based drafting team is currently working on a charter for a Cross-Community Working Group that will create recommendations for Board consideration.

Vistaprint was the sole auction participant for .webs, but was forced to go to the auction because of its similarity to .web. Vistaprint had spent a couple of years attempting to show that .web and .webs could co-exist without problem, Bloomberg BNA reported.

In 2014, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution determined “that .web and .webs were confusingly similar and that only one of them could exist.”

And as .web and .webs were in indirect contention due to their similarity .webs was forced into auction.

After the auction, 218 of 234 contention sets are now resolved. The majority have self-resolved, but 16 sets have been resolved via an ICANN auction.

This article was updated to correct the price paid for .webs which was incorrectly reported as being auctioned for $1m when it was actually $1 and information on why .webs was forced into auction was added.