Domain companies Rightside Group and Donuts Inc. have inked a multi-year extension of Rightside’s deal to provide back-end registry services for Donuts’ nearly 200 generic Top Level Domains — extensions such as .email, .movie, .deals and other alternatives to traditional domain names.
The extension of the agreement, announced this morning, follows an unsuccessful attempt by Donuts to acquire Rightside’s registry of domain names $70 million last summer. Rightside rejected the bid at the time as an “opportunistic attempt” to acquire its portfolio of domain extensions at a low price.
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Donuts’ contract extension with Rightside is also notable because Donuts announced last year that it was evaluating and contributing code to Google’s Nomulus domain name registry back-end system.
The announcement comes just weeks after Donuts appointed tech industry veteran Bruce Jaffe, the former head of Microsoft’s corporate development group, as its new chief executive. Paul Stahura, the Donuts co-founder and former CEO, remains on full-time as executive chairman.
In an interview, Rightside CEO Taryn Naidu said the companies continued to work together smoothly amid the unsolicited acquisition attempt by Donuts.
“From my standpoint it’s a compliment that one of the large companies in the industry looked at our company and said it’s super valuable, and wanted to acquire it,” Naidu said. “That’s not a negative. There’s a level of excitement about the business that we’ve created and the business that they’ve created, and solidifying an extension of the partnership goes a long way for both of us.”
Naidu said he and Stahura have a strong relationship, and he expects his relationship with Jaffe to be just as strong.
Jaffe said in a news release, “Rightside has been a critically important partner during our gTLD portfolio’s first three years in the market, and we look forward to building on our shared success.” Jaffe said Rightside’s registry platform “has the right combination of innovative features, ease-of-operation, scalability, and highly responsive customer support.”
We’ve contacted Donuts to find out the status of its use of Google’s Nomulus system following the extension of the Rightside agreement.
Rightside and Donuts have a long history together. Stahura originally founded eNom, Rightside’s wholesale registrar business, before selling it to Demand Media in 2006. Rightside was spun off from Demand Media as a public company in 2013. Rightside last month announced a deal with internet services company Tucows to buy eNom for $83.5 million.
In the terminology of the domain industry, “registrars” sell specific domain names to the public or to resellers. A “registry” owns and manages domain name extensions, including new. Donuts calls this the “not-com” business, or gTLDs, focusing on new and novel alternatives to dot-com domain names.
Naidu said he remains bullish about the future of these alternative domains, citing the example of website building service Squarespace promoting domain extensions including .news and .ninja as part of its Super Bowl marketing campaign.
Broadly speaking, Naidu said, Donuts and Rightside have a similar vision, in seeking to promote the use of domains by companies for marketing purposes, not just for email and hosting. “In order to grow this industry exponentially, we need to help people understand that domains are more than that. They are a product, and the domains themselves can be utilized as branding tools,” he said.
Financial terms of the contract extension with Donuts were not publicly disclosed. Rightside shares are down slightly in trading this morning after the announcement.