[At-Large] Registrants could save lots of money - Verisign Makes the Case

Karl Auerbach karl at cavebear.com
Tue Nov 6 22:52:52 UTC 2018

That article is written from the domain name speculator's perspective.

And as much as gains on a tiny set of .com name sales captures the 
writer's (and usually ICANN's attention) it is the other side of the 
.com registry fee that is of far greater economic impact.

In past years I have speculated that the cost to operate the .com 
registry (including the name server cloud) is on the order of $0.03 per 
name per year.

Using that $0.03 number, ICANN is gifting to Verisign an unearned profit 
of $7.82 per name per year - which when measured over the number of 
names in .com amounts to about $1.5BILLION - with a "B" per year in pure 

Suppose my estimate is off by 10x, i.e. 1000%.  Suppose that the cost is 
$0.30 per name per year.  That barely changes the result. It is still a 
gift from ICANN to Verisign in excess of $1.5BILLION per year.

Suppose my estimate is off by 100x - 10,000%.  That the cost is 
$3/name/year.  That still results in roughly a $BILLION/year gift from 
ICANN to Verisign.

Now, ICANN has been around for 20 years.  From which we can make a very 
imprecise estimate that ICANN's lack of auditing and concern for the 
actual cost of providing the .com registry service has amounted to a 
wealth transfer from internet users to Verisign of perhaps as much as 
$20BILLION - so far.

Now, a rational internet user might wonder if my numbers are accurate or 
not.  It seems, however, that ICANN is not concerned because as far as I 
know ICANN has never asked for gross numbers, much less performed an audit.

We know that Verisign has engaged in various forms of security theatre - 
such as construction of visually fortress-like data centers - to make it 
appear to uninformed government administrators and legislators that 
Versign deserve pallets of cash else Verisign might stumble and collapse 
the internet.  Even if we allow that kind of posturing - those expenses 
ought to have been depreciated down to zero over the two-plus decades 
that Verisign has been sitting on .com.

So perhaps a few domain name speculators are getting a few tens of 
thousands - maybe even a couple of $millions - out of buying and selling 
domain names in .com.  That, however, amount to nothing more than grain 
of sand on the vastly larger beach of money that is ICANN's fiat .com 
registry fee gift.

Did anyone mention .net?  Similar story.

Compare Versign's registry fee - now approaching $8/name/year with the 
cost of things like Gmail or Facebook, which are "free". (One may 
counter that Google and FB obtain revenue from other sources, such as 
advertising or compiling marketing targeting data on users.  But who 
among us can say with certainty that Verisign is not compiling valuable 
marketing data from domain name activities or selling useful 
intelligence data to various governments - maybe they are not, but has 
ICANN ever inquired?)


On 11/6/18 1:13 PM, Carlton Samuels wrote:
> and breadcrumb the money trail.....
> http://www.circleid.com/posts/20181102_how_much_could_businesses_and_consumers_save_if_dot_com_price_cap/
> -Carlton
> ==============================
> /Carlton A Samuels/
> /Mobile: 876-818-1799
> Strategy, Process, Governance, Assessment & Turnaround/
> =============================
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