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ICANN’s Auction Piggy Bank Just Got Twice As Big

Kieren McCarthy reports in The Register that an obscure Panamanian company paid $30 million for .BLOG in the January 21 domain auction. ICANN’s web site confirms that the domain did go to the Panamanian company. It doesn’t report the amount, but Kieren’s sources are usually correct. If so, the auction proceeds piggy bank just doubled from $30M to $60M dollars, and ICANN still has no idea what to do with it.

One interesting idea I’ve heard is to use part of it to fund open source DNS projects. Put some amount in a trust earmarked for DNS code projects, and spend the income on stuff like upgraded DNS libraries. Last week in Singapore people at the Universal Domain Acceptance session said that’s still a problem, and one participant pointed out that if they want better DNS software they could pay people to write it and give it away. So that’s an obvious place to start, with benefits that would be much broader than the usual “bring people from poor countries to ICANN meetings” suggestions.

By John Levine, Author, Consultant & Speaker

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Not quite Rubens Kuhl  –  Feb 15, 2015 8:27 PM

Private auction funds do not go to ICANN, so ICANN has not doubled up. http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/applicants/auctions/proceeds lists current information; next ICANN last resort auction is on February 25, and only scheduled strings are not privately settled before that will go into ICANN managed auction proceeds.

Oops John Levine  –  Feb 15, 2015 9:55 PM

You’re right, this would have been in the Feb 25 ICANN auction, but it was taken out of that.

The $30 million number is also incorrect. Kevin Murphy  –  Feb 16, 2015 10:37 AM

The $30 million number is also incorrect.

"an obscure Panamanian company" John Berryhill  –  Feb 19, 2015 4:39 PM

I’m curious to know what function the word “obscure” performs here.  Personally, I couldn’t name a single Panamanian company, or maybe one or two if I thought on it for a while.  There is a canal there, and perhaps a company which runs it.  However, by my personal benchmark of almost complete ignorance of Panamanian commerce, there are no “well known” Panamanian companies.  One imagines that results differ, depending on the location and background of the reader of this site.

Is the company “obscure” in some universal sense, is it based on your otherwise comprehensive knowledge of Panamanian companies in general, or is the word in this sentence intended to suggest this company is actively engaged in hiding something?  It’s a great word to convey a sense of covert wrongdoing without any particular substantive basis, so I’m curious to know how it landed in this sentence and what, if anything, it is intended to convey to the reader.  What makes one Panamanian company any more obscure than another?

Nothing obscure about obscure John Levine  –  Feb 19, 2015 6:08 PM

Hi, John. For nearly all TLD applicants, it’s easy to tell who’s behind them. Primer Nivel purports in its application to be in Panama, and on its web page to be an existing registrar. There are three ICANN accredited registrars in Panama, and it doesn’t appear to be any of them. The contact info on their web page is in Bogota, Colombia, and there are no ICANN registrars in Colombia. The address in Panama on the application is an office used for offshore trusts, which strongly suggests the real owner is somewhere else.

So, yeah, they’re obscure. We can all speculate about why someone in Colombia might have a lot of money to invest in a new business.

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