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Announcing the Final Terms of the First Applicant Auction for Contested gTLDs

We received several emails and phone calls with thoughtful comments on the proposed plan for the first Applicant Auction and have made several small changes to the plan. The final terms will be sent to applicants who requested the RFC, and can also be requested on our website.

Here is a quick summary of the changes:

Auction prices:
Several bidders wanted a bit more certainty about how prices will be set. In response, we commit to setting the first round prices exactly as proposed (min price is 0, max price is $50,000 * number of bidders). Further, if all bidders are still bidding in the second round, then second round prices will be exactly as proposed (start price + 10% * number of bidders).

Information transparency:
We received balanced comments on the new information policy, which indicates that we found a decent compromise. In particular, most applicants accepted that preserving winning bidders’ privacy by not disclosing exact winning prices was a worthwhile goal. To make this provision meaningful, we will comply with one applicants’ request to contractually obligate applicants to keep the winning price confidential.

Finally, applicants felt that a 2-day auction was too short and that more time should be allotted to ensure that all bidders have time to familiarize themselves with the system and the process, and to think through how to bid. To accommodate this, we will make two changes:

a) As originally planned, we will offer a voluntary mock auction 3 days before the auction, scheduled for Thursday May 23rd. This will be run exactly as the real auction except that the results have no meaning, and the schedule will be heavily accelerated. We encourage all bidders to participate - the mock auction is a good test to make sure that you have the right login credentials and know how to place bids.

b) we will plan for the auction to take 3 or 4 days. The first auction round will be on May 28th and will last for 24 hours, as before. For subsequent rounds, we will do our best to set a schedule that reflects actual bidders’ time zones. Rounds will last 2 hours initially, but if bidding activity during the auction indicates that not that much time is needed, we may shorten the rounds. In no case will the rounds be shorter than 30 minutes.

We will not allow bidders to increase their deposit during this auction. The reason is that the auction will be relatively short (4 days), that we would like to keep the first auction simple. We are open to changing this for future auctions.

A small change to mitigate order of magnitude error:
Finally, a small addition to the terms. In any round after Round 1, bidders may bid up to 9 times the Start Price of a round, or Minimum Price to Continue of a round, whichever is higher. This helps protect bidders from accidentally adding an extra “0” when typing in their bid.”

We hope that these rules will be acceptable to all interested bidders and maximize participation. Any bidders who do not find these terms workable for them are invited to comment and participate in one of our future auctions. Those interested in participating in the first auction and receiving legal documentation and login credentials for the mock auction should register their interest on our website.

By Sheel Mohnot, Project Director, Applicant Auction

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