6 Top-level Domains Fetch $9M in First Private Auction from Innovative Auctions

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Bidders withdraw applications for 6 top-level domains after the first Applicant Auction, run by Innovative Auctions Ltd., successfully resolved contention for the strings.

Innovative Auctions Ltd. (IAL) has successfully completed the first private auction for generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs). The auction resolved contention for 6 participating gTLDs, and the auction winners are now the only remaining applicants for the six contested strings:

.club — .CLUB Domains
.college — XYZ.COM
.luxury — Luxury Partners
.photography — Donuts
.red — Afilias
.vote — Monolith Registry

Winners paid a total of $9.01 million, and these funds were used to compensate the other applicants for withdrawing their applications.

In ICANN's gTLD Applicant Guidebook, applicants for gTLD strings that are in contention are asked to resolve the contention among themselves. ICANN did not further specify how to do that. The Applicant Auction has now become the most successful—and proven— alternative to tedious multilateral negotiations.

All participants—winners and non-winners alike—indicated that they were pleased with the results of the first Applicant Auction. "The auction system was clear, user-friendly, and easy to navigate," said Monica Kirchner, applicant for Luxury Partners. "The process worked smoothly, and we're very happy with the outcome."

The auction was designed by renowned economist Peter Cramton as a fair, efficient, and transparent mechanism to resolve contention between multiple applicants for the same gTLD. "The Applicant Auction process is extremely well organized and we were very pleased with the results for us," said Colin Campbell, of .CLUB LLC. "It is a fair and efficient way to resolve contention and support the industry at the same time, with auction funds remaining among the domain contenders."

Top Level Design's CEO Ray King praised the auction's execution. "The applicant auction process was great, the software functioned without a hitch and all of the folks involved were responsive and highly professional. We look forward to participating in future auctions with Innovative Auctions."

In the last days leading up to the auction, many single-string and multiple-string participants have expressed an interest to participate in private auctions in general and the Applicant Auction in particular. Antony van Couvering's insightful article on CircleID lays out the reasons why his company TLDH will participate in private auctions, and Colin Campbell, whose company was the winner for .club, predicts that "many other parties who stood by the sidelines in this first auction will participate in future Applicant Auctions."

Innovative Auctions will hold additional auctions in the coming months to resolve contention for many more of the roughly 200 gTLDs still pending. The next auction is currently scheduled for August 13. Please direct questions to info@applicantauction.com.

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Sheel Mohnot
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