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Stop Propagating False Information About the .ORG Transaction

We were disappointed to see The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publish a recent editorial on February 13 about the sale of Public Interest Registry (PIR, the company that operates .ORG) that propagates false information about the transaction, including runaway prices, censorship and lack of experience.

Runaway prices? Ethos Capital and PIR have committed to capping price increases to no more than ten percent per year on average. With current pricing of $9.93, that equates to a price increase of less than one dollar. It is surprising the editorial staff would term $1 a year a big price increase, especially since the Post-Gazette itself has recently more than doubled its subscription price.

Censorship? Critics have put forth the idea that somehow, Ethos and PIR would start to curb free expression on .ORG websites. That is absolutely not going to happen. Ethos and PIR have repeatedly publicly committed to establishing a Stewardship Council of outside Internet experts to guide .ORG policies and ensure that the registry’s commitment to free speech will continue unabated.

Lack of experience? The Post-Gazette’s claim that there would be a lack of expertise at .ORG ignores the fact that Ethos is acquiring PIR, the operator of .ORG. PIR’s management team, including its CEO Jon Nevett (a 15-year domain-industry veteran), would remain intact and operate PIR and .ORG. It also ignores the fact that several members of the Ethos team have extensive experience in the domain industry.

So, back to what the proposed sale is really about. .ORG is the most respected brand in the domain industry, and for good reason. It sets the standard as a platform for non-profits and other .ORG users to serve communities. And we think it can have an even bigger future helping more non-profits and other organizations fulfill their mission. That starts with ensuring that current profits from .ORG are used to directly benefit the .ORG community. Currently, those profits go to the Internet Society for the general benefit of the Internet. We’d like to see them dedicated to .ORG.

Ethos understands that owning PIR makes us stewards of an essential part of the fabric of the Internet. The .ORG domain is bigger than its 10 million domains. It is both a symbol of non-profits and mission-driven organizations on in the Internet and a means by which millions of organizations operate, communicate, fundraise, and, provide services to those in need.

For that reason, stewardship of .ORG is paramount. The community deserves guarantees about .ORG’s future. That is why Ethos and PIR have made commitments on prices, policy making and community enablement. It is unfortunate that the Post-Gazette has failed to mention those important commitments in their editorial.

By Nora Abusitta-Ouri, Chief Purpose Officer at Ethos Capital

Nora Abusitta-Ouri is the Chief Purpose Officer at Ethos Capital, where she oversees the development and execution of social impact and ethics initiatives for the firm and the companies in which it invests. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Digital Ethos Foundation, a global nonprofit committed to fostering a trustworthy, just and peaceful digital world.

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10% increase is still significant David Crowe  –  Feb 18, 2020 8:07 PM

A 10% increase every year for 10 years is a 260% increase.

I agree with David Crowe Karl Auerbach  –  Feb 19, 2020 12:43 AM

A 10% per year price increase is a doubling of the registry fee every 7.5 years.

Given that .org/PIR has had roughly two decades to reduced costs and hone efficiency, that kind of run-away price inflation on the backs of captive customers is an outrage.

In addition even the most cursory analysis suggests that the money that has been poured into this venture can not be covered on the basis of a 10%/year increase.  I’ve been through leveraged buyouts before and watched the debt load devour everything and perhaps throw PIR into insolvency.  I challenge you to lay out the entire financial structure, including the schedule of debt coverage and the path to liquidity for the investors.

The only thing that you're right about Kevin Ohashi  –  Feb 19, 2020 6:20 AM

The only thing that you’re right about is that .org needs stewardship. The sad part is you think you should be a part of it. The only a dollar argument is garbage. Pretending 10% increases compounding yearly is normal or ok is a sign you, and ethos should have no role in managing .org. A shadowy private equity firm has no place taxing the world’s non profits for their own investors personal gain.

Simple question Kieren McCarthy  –  Feb 19, 2020 6:10 PM

Here is a simple question over this sale:

* Who is Purpose Domains Direct LLC? And who are its directors?

Because this is the company that will ultimately own the .org registry. But we know nothing of it or who will own and run it. Related question:

* Who is Purpose Domains Holdings LLC? And who are its directors?

Because this is the company that owns Purpose Domains Direct LLC. But we know nothing of it or who will own and run it.

It is entirely reasonable for people to want to know who will own the .org registry if it is sold and so who will be making the decision about all the issues you highlight above. Because if it isn’t Ethos Capital that’s in charge—and it isn’t—then nothing you or Ethos say holds any weight.

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