NameSilo

The fight for .ORG: is it about MONEY or is it about CONTROL?

Labeled as debate in gTLD Discussion started by Rob Monster, Dec 10, 2019.

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?

The real reason for the .ORG change of control event is about:

  1. Money - Financial return on a mature asset

    67.2%
  2. Control - The right to determine who gets routed on the public internet

    12.1%
  3. Not sure

    13.8%
  4. Don't care

    6.9%
Total: 58 vote(s)
  1. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    As some here are aware, I previously presented the bullish case for .ORG:

    https://www.namepros.com/threads/why-i-am-bullish-on-org-plutocratic-guilt.1161692/

    Although I remain bullish on the .ORG TLD as a domain asset class, there is now a footnote on .ORG because of the change of control event and the precedent that it represents for a major registry.

    In the wake of organized backlash against the Ethos/PIR.org deal from capable organizations such as EFF, it appears that propagandists are makeing a case for "nothing to see here". For example note this article:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/05/opinion/dot-org-domain.html

    This article was written by a Stanford undergrad with a Stanford prof as the byline. Fade Chehade is a Stanford alum. This looks like a propaganda instrument. In fact, I put the odds at 90:10 on that.

    Ultimately, I am not convinced that this is not about money. After all, Donuts is not exactly killing it since Abry took over. However, they now control a whopping 242 TLDs. These people are not stupid nor are they lazy.

    Fadi is a globalist and an elite technocrat. He has a keen understanding of power, governance and realpolitik. I believe he is entirely sincere about what he thinks it is at stake. Check out his short TED interview:

    https://www.ted.com/talks/fadi_cheh...itizens_can_do_to_claim_power_on_the_internet

    The timing of this talk was curious. September 2018 is when the digital censorship programs went into overdrive. As some folks know, I was on the front line of that when Godaddy booted Gab.

    Fadi wants "Geneva conventions", "technocratic oaths" and "stewards" for acceptable use.

    Fadi also comments on Artificial Intelligence. He is absolutely right. Most folks have no idea how much impact AI combined with structured data, wireless broadband, and open standards is going to change the word.

    People with access to domains, hosting and vast libraries of open source code, are capable of wielding remarkable things. The tools are already amazing. I believe AI is also in the process of being democratized.

    As power of internet publishing gravitates to individuals, the framework for governance on the Internet comes down to the gatekeepers, of which domain registries play a critical role for at least the next 10 years.

    Blockchain is plodding along to create a decentralized alternative. It is not ready for prime time yet. However, domains can become more resilient. That is where Epik is focused.

    Now that the main industry pundits have had their commentary on .ORG, I am curious to hear what the open source community has to say about the .ORG transaction and its implications. Let's hear it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
  2. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Member VIP

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    The fight for .ORG: is it about MONEY or is it about CONTROL?

    Based on the politics you mentioned it would seem to be about both, money and control. Money and control is interchangeable. That brings me to what you mentioned.

    Developers working on the decentralized web (web3.0) are often using free speech, democratic governance and open participation as motivational factors. Often they want the attributes of communism, socialism and capitalism blended.

    Regardless, where we end up with technology, politics on a technological level will always be about money and control. Or control and money.
     
  3. stub

    stub Top Member PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    It's a win/win deal for Ethos/PIR, IMHO. Both PIR get a lot of money from this deal, even if you think they sold too cheaply, compared to the potential returns of Ethos potentially can, and will make from .ORG Registry. I don't think .ORG will look the same after another five years. Is this deal now set in stone? Or are there any regulatory hurdles still to overcome. Of course I voted for the money option in the poll. People don't invest this much money without thinking they are going to potentially make a lot more.
     
  4. varyemez

    varyemez Markapol Domains VIP

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  5. Lox

    Lox _____ Gold Account VIP

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    Don't know .. no comment
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2019
  6. The Durfer

    The Durfer Upgraded Member Gold Account Blue Account VIP

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    I sometimes wonder if they have Rob tied up in a basement there at epik.com sometimes and are running around going "im Rob, im Rob"

    nah, just messing with you. I think itll be interesting to find out how the new ownership will run things for sure. :)
     
  7. Bernard Wright

    Bernard Wright Established Member

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    Agreed. I'm not savvy enough to be able to read into the nuance of the deal. I don't foresee a transition of power from the corporation to the individual. I think a false perception of such power could be sold, and many would walk around with the wool pulled over their eyes. For instance, a day could come when the masses realize that it's better to decentralize their online activity, and seek refuge in myowndomain.org instead of Twitter/FB/etc. So .org puts together some social-media-ready package for every user who purchases a .org (similar to the blog feature offered by Epik), and these .org sites are built to function much like a decentralized social media platform. Everyone is told this is the new way of empowering oneself. But in time .org slowly becomes as oppressive and manipulative as the pastures the masses had left behind in Silicon Valley.

    .org would be a pretty weak TLD for this, actually, but perhaps Fadi could build some street cred or alliances by holding .org, and thereby wield more weight when he builds the endgame tld.

    I'm not a techie. I'm just a skeptic and I know I don't know much. But I think "it's all about the money" might be short-sighted. AI is becoming reality. IoT is turning people into order takers from their own appliances. I can't even dry my own laundry without having to override some "smart" setting. XR will immerse people in worlds that guide them, through amusements, down any path that is most stimulating and dopamine-releasing. Again, I don't foresee this as a path toward individual empowerment. I think those at the reigns will have unprecedented influence over the thoughts, emotions, values, behavior, etc. of billions of people. Maybe .org is just one part of a larger puzzle, and folks like me don't have the knowledge or experience to conceptualize what the puzzle will be. But I do think there is a puzzle.

    I voted not sure.
     
  8. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Member VIP

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    Theres a large and growing community growing around "decentralization." As it relates to the internet there is many developers currently expanding the "decentralized web." ICANN, by showing conventional centralization, and the corruption that surrounds that centralization, is only fueling decentralization.
     
  9. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    Quick back of the envelope calculation:

    Let's say there is an average of 10 million paid up .ORG domains for the next 5 years. Let's say the average net after rebates, incentives and marginal cost of cost of goods is $8.50 per domain-year.

    Now, let's say there is $15 million in overhead which could be crushed down to $10 million without doing much brand damage. The result is $70 million in EBITDA.

    The public annual report is here:

    https://thenew.org/app/uploads/2019/09/PIR-2018-Annual-Report.pdf

    It does not provide granular detail but we know from the tax filings that this used to fund a lot of grants.

    upload_2019-12-11_15-8-3.png

    For the $1.13 billion purchase price, that looks like a fully priced PE deal.

    Yes, it looks like a financial layup for anyone who can borrow with a cost of capital in low single digits as the backers surely can.

    Yes, the EBITDA could be expanded through price increases, increasing domains under management, and cutting costs. However, if Donuts is the success formula, I don't see that happening.

    If this was just a question of a private sector owner just doing a better job of milking the cow than the non-profit governance that preceded it, I don't think the public should care all that much.

    However, what if Jon Nevett was a cut-out CEO installed for the single purpose of selling .ORG to private equity. In retrospect, that logic actually seems rather probable to me.

    So, my working hypothesis is that this is not about financial return but about control and that Fadi is the point man connecting the dots, not as a public servant but as a "captain of the digital universe".

    The fact that there is a guy of Fadi's caliber trying to buy namespaces just validates the hypothesis that for at least the next 10 years, domain names are going to be essential for digital communication.
     
  10. Mister Funsky

    Mister Funsky Happy New Year VIP

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    It's one of those 'good ole boys' backroom kinda deals...hope it hits the fan and flies back in their faces. add: this means it is all about the Benjamins
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2019
  11. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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  12. Shamiul Alam

    Shamiul Alam Established Member

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  13. stub

    stub Top Member PRO VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    @Rob Monster - I saw another calculation, which suggested it was not really a fully priced ebit. I don't remember where I saw it. I think it was probably from one of the domain blogs. But it might have been on NP. It looked much more like a gravy train, if they were to implement everything suggested.
     
  14. Lox

    Lox _____ Gold Account VIP

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    That part of Donuts & co game we know. What we don't know is where does the Ethos get the money / backing. We need to make a clear distinction between investing in and funded by x's.
     
  15. Lox

    Lox _____ Gold Account VIP

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    Expert: Billion-dollar offer for .org a 'really bad deal'
     
  16. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    Sure it is both money and power. That is too easy.

    However, there are lots of ways for money to make more money.

    The question is about the driving force that causes 2 ex ICANN execs to spend time directing the allocation of resources to a newly-formed entity that is likely a special purpose vehicle to buy the .ORG registry.

    If you look at the rest of the portfolio, these look like old deals:

    https://www.adhark.com/
    https://www.liquidx.com/
    https://teamwhistle.com/
    https://www.vidmob.com/

    You can look them up one by one, e.g. LiquidX:

    https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1759495/000175949518000001/xslFormDX01/primary_doc.xml

    Aadhark is now some kind of AI concept (how trendy). It used to be some kind of ad tech with a twist of "AI":

    https://web.archive.org/web/20190124191450/http://www.adhark.com/

    In other words, the portfolio looks like window dressing to make a portfolio that looks like a forward-looking tech investment group. If that were true, cool but the "portfolio" looks like a dog's breakfast.

    I give 80:20 odds that Ethos Capital is a special purpose acquisition vehicle for acquiring .ORG. The rest is window dressing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2019
  17. BrandCollectors.com

    BrandCollectors.com Established Member

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  18. oldtimer

    oldtimer Do some good for humanity and the environment VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    I believe that its both about power (control) and money (profit).

    To have power and to make money is not automatically a bad thing, it all depends on the motives and the intents of those who are involved. If their motives and intents are to serve people better by providing more affordable products and services and by creating a safer and more secure environment that empowers the average person to enjoy more freedom, innovation, and financial equality then it doesn't matter who is in charge of .org , but if this deal is made for the wrong reasons then it should be of concern to all and that's why having oversight by ICANN or other entities that have a say in this matter is of most importance.

    Seeking power and money started by owning newspapers in the past then expanded to controlling radio, TV, and cable channels and was followed by owning social media companies and finally has expanded to include Internet extensions and registries. And eventually it's going to end up with who has the more powerful AI as that will be the ultimate source of power and money in the future.

    The question should be:

    who's a Force for Good that wants to serve Humanity and this Planet and who's only looking after what's good for themselves.

    IMO
     
  19. oldtimer

    oldtimer Do some good for humanity and the environment VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    It’s worth noting that some of those media pioneers who owned newspapers in the past despite becoming very rich and powerful, but contributed a lot in the way of protecting Humanity and this Planet by promoting the ideas and principles of Freedom, Human Rights, and Civilized Behavior and by keeping an oversight over the institutions of Democracy and Government around the World. But then there were also a few who misused and abused their status and influence which caused a lot of damage to the public at large, so we just have to put the spotlight on those who are involved in controlling .org and demand transparency and oversight by ICANN to make sure that whatever they are doing is in the public interest in the long run

    IMO
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2019
  20. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    An old classic for you:

    upload_2019-12-11_17-54-41.png
     
  21. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Member VIP

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    If the alternative blockchain protocols (decentralized web) evolve into mainstream certainly it would be bad for centralized, or those who invest in DNS, domainers. Although, those who invest in blockchain domains may do well. Opportunity is not gone, it just goes somewhere else.

    With the rise of the blockchain decentralized web there are two issues that are immediately superior than the current system. First, domains can be "Forever" without renewals (one extension). Two, decentralization is prioritized.

    ICANN and other companies surrounding DNS, Http(s), and TCP/IP are making the biggest case for the decentralized web. These companies and organizations have displayed corruption, censorship, unfair legalities, unrealistic privacy policies/ToS.....If the decentralized web happens, it's because those in charge of the current system has abused their power.
     
  22. oldtimer

    oldtimer Do some good for humanity and the environment VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    We have to consider what Decentralized exactly means as AI evolves to be integrated into our lives. So far most discussions on this subject are made in human terms, we have to start factoring in AI into all our discussions about what direction things are going to take in the future.

    The way that I see it Centralized and Decentralized are going to mean whether AI is going to evolve into a unified entity or whether every technological power in the World is going to have their own AI that is going to promote their own separate political, religious, racial, and economical agendas.

    IMO
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2019
  23. tonyk2000

    tonyk2000 Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Politics on domainers forum? Honestly, I never wanted to go that deep. But, since the subject and content are appropriate -
    Blockchain may be good alternative. At least it would not disappear. But, we are all domainers here. Are there any good news for us then? :( Rob, what do you think? Younger generations are already happy to use facebook and the like for all their social and business needs, gmail - for e-mails etc., they purchase smart speakers (to be tracked and surveilled at home) and use android smartphones + whatsapp (to be surveilled on the go, without even rudimentary non-techie efforts to "debloat"). Any space for domains in a long run? Excluding "geeks and nerds" registrants...
    Globalist agenda is likely still the same, with or without .org acquisition. It should not be hard to make .org (to begin with) domains expensive and/or difficult to acquire and/or hard to use. And well-controlled. On ICANN level. Just by developing new policies for example asking for notarized copies of non-profit official registration docs, and lets say $500/year extra fee. Current ICANN state can be well described by the latin proverb piscis primum a capite foetat (the fish rots from the head down - trouble starts at the top). Why acquire the registry for "globalist agenda" purposes, if ICANN is already on the "dark side"?
    So I voted for money+financial return.
     
  24. Rob Monster

    Rob Monster CEO, Epik Epik.com Staff PRO Gold Account VIP

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    With RDAP done, I believe the next big move is going to be to require ID verification to register, renew or transfer domains. That will be governed at the registry level since they are in the ideal position to enforce policies regardless of whether ICANN tries to move the goalposts versus what has been contracted.

    With all of the lawlessness that exists on the Internet, the case can be made to the public that this is needed for internet safety. The case will be compelling and events can make that narrative even more so. Think of it as a Patriot Act for the Internet, all in the interest of "moral duty" and "stewardship".

    Registrars and registries will initially have sovereignty to set their own policies when it comes to deploying much of these changes. To drive to an industry standard will require a lot of coordination (aka manufactured consensus). Some people may think this can be done with a few leveraged buyouts.

    The technology to sovereignly do cool stuff outside of the wall gardens (e.g. Facebook, etc) is increasing very rapidly. There are a staggering number of high quality open source code repositories that is accessible to a fast-growing international community that is able to turn domains into useful decentralized tools.

    Fascinating times. Domains matter.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2019
  25. tonyk2000

    tonyk2000 Top Member VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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