Exclusive The rights to sell .blog domains – one of the most sought after new dot-word gTLDs – have been won at auction by an unknown Colombian working out of Panama.
Gerardo Aristizabal and his company Primer Nivel paid an estimated $20m for the premium piece of internet real-estate, beating out industry giants Google, Afilias, Donuts as well as five others.
It makes it the most expensive new gTLD following $6.8m paid for dot-tech, $5.6 for dot-realty and $5.1m for dot-salon. Those are just the public auctions; the private auctions for dot-book, dot-pay and a raft of others are estimated to have gone higher, but not as high as $20m.
In a huge expansion of the domain name space, dot-blog is one of the few extensions that people are sure is a surefire winner, thanks to its immediacy and relevance. Many in the industry expected Google to win the name and use it to host free websites with its Blogger platform.
Very little is known about Primer Nivel's plans for dot-blog. Its public application follows most industry norms of allowing for first-come-first-served registrations after a "sunrise period" for trademark owners. The most valuable "premium" names will be auctioned off. The registry will also be used to "promote the core values that have given blogs their actual space in the Internet; freedom of speech and access to information," according to the application.
Other than that, the only real information provided is that dot-blog will use Malaysian company Qinetics for its technical back-end (the company also runs the registries for Singapore's dot-sg, Hong Kong's dot-hk and Malaysia's dot-my).
Give him a call
We phoned up Aristizabal for comment and more information, but he told us he didn't want to talk about his plans just yet: the purchase has not been officially announced, and is wrapped up in confidentiality agreements.
Primer Nivel was established in Panama solely to apply for three top-level domains: .blog, .news and .legal. The company, which has just three staff, withdrew from .news and .legal following high levels of interest – and so clearly decided to put everything it had on the one remaining generic TLD.
Aristizabal is largely unknown in the domain name world, although one industry person who knows him, and who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, described him as "an entrepreneur and a real go-getter, very driven and dedicated."
Aristizabal is also in charge of domain registrar CCI Reg, which appeared in amid the relaunch of Colombia's dot-co domain and most recently won the rights to register government-restricted domains under the dot-nyc registry. Both dot-nyc and dot-co are operated by industry stalwart Neustar.
The auction for dot-blog was resolved nearly two weeks ago on 21 January, but gagging agreements meant that none of the participants could reveal any information about the process until today.
One bidder, publicly traded Minds+Machines, revealed that it had received $3.4m from withdrawing its applications from the private auctions for dot-blog and dot-store. Under the rules of that auction, run by Applicant Auction, the winner pays the second highest bidder's bid and that sum is then split between all the participants.
Since there were nine bidders for dot-blog and seven for dot-store, the proceeds from the two auctions were $54.4m, or $27m per registry. By our estimates, dot-blog represents a better business opportunity given the large potential market, and so we reckon about $20m was spent on dot-blog.
There are still some big-name TLDs who ownership will be resolved by auction, including dot-app, dot-taxi and dot-diy. ®
We're happy to clarify that our estimate for the gTLD's price tag is $20m.