Register.com Inc is to dispose of its right to operate the long-delayed .pro top-level internet domain, under a sale for an undisclosed sum to Registry Services Corp, a wholly owned subsidiary of HostWay Corp, a Chicago-based web hosting provider.
The RegistryPro business, a Register subsidiary, was described by CEO Peter Forman as non-core to our business. The unit is not believed to have brought in any meaningful revenue, but the startup costs have been eating into Register’s bottom line.
It is the first time control of a domain regulated under contract with the Internet Corp for Assigned Names and Numbers has changed hands. ICANN’s approval will be required before the deal closes.
ICANN general counsel John Jeffrey and HostWay director of business development Michael Ciello said that an ICANN board meeting on February 18 will decide whether or not to approve the transition.
The board could approve, or not approve, or apply conditions to the transfer. Jeffrey said ICANN will apply the same criteria, such as technical stability and financial security, that it uses to judge applications to launch new domains.
Under the deal, which is for an amount not material to Register’s business, HostWay’s subsidiary will acquire some staff, contracts and technology from RegistryPro, which will then dissolve.
The deal is being executed through a HostWay subsidiary because ICANN has rules about joint-ownership of registries and registrars, and HostWay already owns an ICANN-accredited registrar.
Register disclosed that it was thinking about selling the business last November, approximately three years after its application to launch a top-level domain (TLD) was approved by ICANN.
The .pro domain is the only one of the seven new TLDs ICANN approved in 2000 to not yet go live. The others – .info, .biz, .museum, .coop, .aero and .name – all launched and are live with varying degrees of success.
RegistryPro originally planned to allow lawyers to register names like johnsmith.law.pro, accountants to register johnsmith.cpa.pro and doctors to register johnsmith.med.pro. RegistryPro would sell the names through registrars like Register.com itself.
Recently, RegistryPro petitioned ICANN to allow it to change the terms of its registry contract, to allow it to offer second-level names like johnsmith.pro, saying the market for third-level domains was dubious.
Global Name Registry Ltd, which operates the .name TLD, recently opened its second-level up to registrations too, having seen worse than expected sales of third-level john.smith.name-type registrations.
HostWay’s DelCiello said: There’s a huge opportunity in the second level.
RegistryPro had a sunrise period for professionals to pre-register domains last year. DelCiello said HostWay has not decided whether to execute the second sunrise period at the second level prior before or after the official go-live date.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire