Innovative Auctions

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Applicant auction.png
Founded: 2013
Country: Hong Kong
Website: Applicant Auction
Key People
Ulrich Gall - Founder

Lindsay Holden - Business Development
Sheel Mohnot - Business Development
Ben Hanna - Operations
Peter Cramton

Innovative Auctions (IAL) is a Hong Kong based company that specializes in providing advice on auction and market design for multiple industries in many different countries. The firm is offering gTLD auction services to applicants in contention in ICANN's New gTLD Program. Their auction was designed by Peter Cramton, a leading expert on auction design and strategy.

IAL's private auction for gTLD contention sets is called Applicant Auction.[1]

ICANN New gTLD Auctions

Numerous companies have offered their own models gTLD auction models for resolving contention among multiple applicants for the same TLD. ICANN, whose auctions are by definition a last resort, has encouraged parties to resolve contention themselves. Innovative Auctions has designed a private auction, competing with Sedo and Right of the Dot. All three groups offer slight variations on implementation and services but share commonalities in their proposed models. In all cases, the winner will pay the amount of the second-highest bid, and money will be split either equally or proportionally between the losers.[2] All applicants for each contention set must agree to participate in order for a private auction to proceed; otherwise, the contention set will be managed via ICANN's auction system, in which all proceeds go to ICANN as "excess funds" that will be allocated at a later date.[3]

During ICANN 45 in Toronto, Peter Cramton outlined an "ascending clock" model, where a price is increased by the auctioneer at each stage; bidders and sellers can then either drop out or bid on the increased amount.[4] This model is also preferred by Right of the Dot, though it has also proposed "sealed bid" and "live auction" models. In a sealed bid model, applicants securely send money via a courier and packages are stored in a safe place until they are opened at the auction session.[2]

Innovative Auctions has secured its fees at 1% for the first round and 4% for subsequent rounds. The first round took place in June and 6 contention sets were settled for a total of $9.01M .[5] To date, the Applicant Auction has resolved contention for over 70 gTLDs.[6] In the first two auctions (comprising 14 strings), the total sales price was $18.6 million; results from subsequent auctions have not been disclosed.[7]

Dr. Cramton has conducted research on auction theory and practice since 1983, and has facilitated a variety of high stakes auctions, including a large variety of government auctions for resource rights and distribution rights, with Cramton Associates.[8] Highlights from his high-profile and unique auction experience includes holding the world's first auction on greenhouse gas emissions in the UK in 2002, designing electricity and gas markets in Colombia, and leading the FAA process to auction airport runway slots for New York City airports.[9]

Innovative Auctions' model is preferred by Donuts, the largest TLD applicant.[10] TLDH has also signed on to participate in private auctions with Innovative Auctions, settling contention for four gTLDs in the August 2013 Applicant Auction[11]. Raymond King, applicant for 10 TLDs with Top Level Design expressed his support for Private Auctions in general, and Innovative Auctions specifically, in an opinion piece on CircleID. Several other parties have also expressed that they participate in IAL's Applicant Auction model, including Demand Media[12] and .CLUB_Domains_LLC[13].


  1. Applicant Auction Retrieved 08 Nov 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 New gTLD applicants ponder private auctions, Published 14 November 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  3. ICANN, Make a Difference, Published 27 November 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  4. Here's how Donuts wants to resolve its 158 new gTLD contention fights. Domain Incite. Published 2012 October 23. Retrieved 2012 November 13.
  5. FIRST APPLICANT AUCTION SETTLED, NEXT AUCTION AUGUST 13TH. Applicant Auction. Published 2013 June 19. Retrieved 2013 July 10.
  6. Retrieved 01 Dec 2014
  7. The Great Internet Land Grab The New Yorker,, Retrieved 01 Dec 2014
  8. About,
  9. Home, 7 Jan 2013]
  10. Here's How Donuts Wants To Resolve its 158 Contention Fights, DomainIncite.comPublished 23 Oct 2012, Retrieved 8 Jan 2013
  11. First private auction and .购物 updatePublished September 2013
  12. Readying for the First Private gTLD Applicant Auction
  13. [ .club Domains headed to private auction for new gTLD .club