Minds + Machines Group Limited

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Minds-machines.jpg
Type: Public
Industry: Internet
Founded: 2007
Founder(s): Frederick Krueger
Clark Landry
Headquarters: Craigmuir Chambers, Road Town, Tortola
Country: British Virgin Islands
Businesses: Minds and Machines, LLC
Bayern Connect GmbH
Minds and Machines GmbH
Website: mmx.co
Facebook: MMXDomains
Twitter: TwitterIcon.png@mmxdomains
Key People
Toby Hall, CEO
Fred Krueger, Executive Chairman
Michael Salazar, CFO
Caspar von Veltheim, Executive Director
Guy Elliott, Non-Executive Director
Keith Teare, Non-Executive Director
nTLDStats
TLDs: 30
Registrations: 1,647,520

More Info: nTLDStats

Summary Intro

Minds + Machines Group Limited (MMX) (formerly Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. (TLDH)) is the parent company of Minds + Machines. The company is dedicated to acquiring and operating new gTLDs, as well as providing consultancy services and back-end registry solutions for entities interested in operating new gTLDs. The company is publicly traded on the AIM under the ticker symbol TLDH.L.[1] Its market cap is valued at over $60 million USD.[2]

History

MMX, originally known as Hecta Media Inc. and later as Top Level Domain Holdings Limited, was established by Frederick Krueger and Clark Landry in 2007. The company went public on November 12, 2007.[3] In 2009, the company changed its name from Hecta Media Inc. to Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. after acquiring Minds + Machines, dotNYC LLC, and DotEco LLC in 2009.[4] Following the acquisition, Antony Van Couvering was appointed CEO of the company.[5] In July 2011, former ICANN Chairman Peter Dengate Thrush joined the company as Executive Chairman.[6] The move was a controversial moment and sparked debate about the lack of a clear conflict of interest policy at ICANN with regards to its Board and Staff, and was discussed within the U.S. Congress among other places. Mr. Thrush announced his subsequent resignation from TLDH in January, 2013.[7]

In 2014, the company changed its name again to Minds + Machines Group Limited, which was accompanied with a relisting on the AIM with the ticker symbol MMX.L.[8]

Uncontested TLDs

In Partnership

TLDs on behalf of clients

Contested TLDs

Contested TLDs in partnership

Funding-Public listing status

On February 26 2013, MMX announced that it had entered into a funding agreement worth $15 million to be used in the case of auction for a specific unnamed TLD. The investor will not receive ownership of the TLD but a share of future revenues. MM did not name the TLD that the funds are directed for, and it is in 11 head to head contentions and 12 featuring more than one contender.[9]

In June 2013, MMX announced that it had raised an additional $10mm in funding through share sales.[10]

In October 2013, MMX announced that it had received $5mm as a result of losing private auctions for .lawyer and .website against Donuts and Radix, respectively.[11]

In January 2014, MMX stated that they had raised US$33.6 million for TLD auctions, and made it clear the company would prefer to settle its 43 contention sets (as of Jan 2014) via private auction. This brings the funds that the company has for settling contention sets up to about $63 million.[12]

Partnering for Success blurb

On October 11, 2012, MMX announced they had partnered with Architelos to use their anti-registration abuse software-as-a-service, NameSentry, in their future registry operations. The software protects the end-user against phishing, malware, spam, botnets and other types of abuse. NameSentry provides both aggregate and drill-down views of abusive domain names, and automates abuse polices and procedures. This announcement came a day after the largest gTLD applicant, Donuts, announced that they were set to use the same NameSentry service.[13]

Staff

MMX top executives particularly, Van Couvering and Salazar, have been involved with ICANN since its very beginnings.[14]

Van Couvering

During the Senate hearings regarding the implementation of the New gTLD Program, Mr. Couvering was one of the representatives of the domain industry who signed the letter sent to Senators John Rockefeller and Kay Bailey Hutchison supporting the program. He and his colleagues reiterated ICANN's position that it is beneficial for the global internet community and it promotes innovation.[15]

Michael Salazar

Michael Salazar led ICANN's New gTLD Program, and was there for three years, before being let go as a result of prominent digital glitches, and subsequent mishandling, of the TAS (The new gTLD Application System), and also the technical failure of the Digital Archery Batching process.[7]

Key Features

Involvement in the New gTLD Program

During the opening day of the application for ICANN's New gTLD Program on January 12, 2012, MMX purchased 20 application slots and announced that it was chosen by Dot Kiwi Limited, a New Zealand based company, to provide registry solutions for the proposed .kiwi string.[16] On February 21, 2012, the company announced that it will purchase 20 additional application slots for gTLDs.[17]

MMX partnered with LHL TLD Investment Partners of Beverly Hills California (LHL) to apply for the .music TLD. Minds + Machines will provide the back-end registry services for .music. LHL is composed of leading music industry personalities including artists, managers, music producers and lawyers.[18]

MMX also applied for GeoTLDs .miami in coordination with the city of Miami and [19] .nrw (North Rhine-Westphalia) on behalf of the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen.[20]

The company reported that its total number of new gTLD applications submitted to ICANN is 92. Six of the applications were submitted through joint ventures, 18 were submitted on behalf of clients, and the remaining 68 gTLDs were submitted by the company for its own registry operations. A significant number of the gTLDs the company has applied for were placed in contention sets, including .blog, .eco, .green .site, .immo, .hotel, .home, .casa, .love, .law, .cloud, .baby, .art, .gay, .style and .store. [21]

In-house gTLD applications

The 68 applications applied for by the company for its own operations are:[21]

.abogado, .app, .art, .baby, .beauty, .beer, .blog, .book, .casa, .cloud, .cooking, .country, .coupon, .cpa, .cricket, .data, .dds, .deals, .design, .dog, .eco, .fashion, .fishing, .fit, .flowers, .free, .garden, .gay, .green, .guide, .home, .horse, .hotel, .immo, .inc, .latino, .law, .lawyer, .llc, .love, .luxe, .pizza, .property, .realestate, .restaurant, .review, .rodeo, .roma, .sale, .school, .science, .site, .soccer, .spa, .store, .style, .surf, .tech, .video, .vip, .vodka, .website, .wedding, .work, .yoga, .zulu, .网址 (.site in Chinese), .购物 (.shopping in Chinese).[21]

A certain commentator, Alexander Drummond-Willoughby, has submitted negative comments to ICANN regarding all applications submitted by MMX, and all applications that have designated TLDH's Minds + Machines as their registry services provider. The comments are largely identical and focus on what the individual deems poor financial decisions by the company.[22]

On June 3rd, 2013 Antony Van Couvering, CEO of MMX, wrote an article on CircleID arguing for the benefits of private auctions versus ICANN auctions for new gTLDs. The private auctions, Van Couvering argues, allow companies to "provide money to create healthy vigorous registries that will fulfill ICANN's mission to create choice and competition in the top-level namespace."[23] The ICANN auctions on the other hand, would leave applicants depleted of cash. Minds + Machines will proceed with private auctions after the first round.[24]

GAC Early Warnings

MMX received a total of 6 GAC Early Warnings, 5 of which were for its own TLDs. This accounts for about 7% of their 72 applications, which they noted in a press release, further stating that many of their competitors and other large portfolio applicants had received much greater percentages of warned applications to total portfolio size. The in-house warned applications are: .zulu, .hotel, .green, .roma, .website. Their client, The American Bible Society, was warned for .bible.[25]

PICs

MMX submitted a Public Interest Commitment (PIC) for every one of its gTLD applications. PICs are voluntary amendments that applicants can create, sign, and undertake along with the general registry agreement in order to hold their registry operations to certain standards. They seem to originally have been developed as a way to allow applicants to appease GAC members that may be concerned about how their application stands as is, or how ICANN will be able to ensure a potential registry remains compliant with its aspirations and mandate as it defined in its summary of its proposed operations in the TLD application. Prior to PICs, there was no clear way of defining operating procedures when moving from the long form essays in the TLD application to the Registry Agreement.

The PICs MMX submitted largely reinforce the best practices and protections it defined in its applications, and the company notes in its submissions that it supports the PIC process and the GAC concern that created it, but that much of the PIC remains undefined and so they remain committed to providing further structure to the idea of the PIC. MMX seems to simultaneously submit PICs while also noting that they are not prepared to accept the PIC program or their commitments as final.

Their PICs provide for: open registration policies; geographic names protections; clearly defining abusive behavior to registrants and the public and enforcing those parameters; the right to suspend, cancel, or otherwise take control of names that are suspected or proven of being involved in abusive activities; and maintaining a clear, singular point of contact for all abuse related correspondence. Some of their PICs, those related to applications with restricted registration requirements, such as .abogado, also note this restricted intent.[26]

References

  1. TLDH Website
  2. How big is the new TLD opportunity? TLDH valued at $60 million, domainnamewire.com
  3. Niche Website are Target for Expansion
  4. New Investments; Proposed Board Changes
  5. Board Appointment-June 15, 2009
  6. Outgoing ICANN Chairman, Peter Dengate Thrush, Joining Minds + Machines as Executive Chairman
  7. 7.0 7.1 TLDH Hires Former ICANN New gTLDs Head, DomainIncite.comPublished & Retrieved 3 Dec 2012
  8. Change of name to Minds + Machines Group Limited
  9. TLDh Gets 15 Million for A Single Top Level Domain Name Auction, DomainNameWire.com Published and Retrieved 26 Feb 2013
  10. TLDH Raises Another 10 million for New gTLD Auctions, TheDomains.com Retrieved 3 June 2013
  11. TLDH raises $5mm from gTLD Auctions, Domain Incite Retrieved 25 Oct 2013
  12. MMX Raises 33.6 mil to fight New gTLD Auctions, DomainIncite Retrieved 31 Jan 2014
  13. MMX Architelos NameSentry, MarketWatch.com
  14. M+M’s parent company, TLDH, appoints Peter Dengate Thrush as Executive Chairman
  15. Letter to Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
  16. New gTLD Application Window Opens
  17. gTLD Application Update
  18. TLDH to apply for .music
  19. Minds + Machines chosen for dot MIAMI
  20. Minds+Machines GmbH wins dot NRW contract
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Top Level Domain Holdings Becomes Largest New gTLD Applicant to Date Applying for 68 Strings, TheDomains.comPublished June 1 2012]
  22. http://domainincite.com/10317-mystery-commenter-targets-mm-new-gtld-clients Myster Commenter Targets MM new gTLD Clients, DomainIncite.com]
  23. icann or private auctions Published 3 Jun 13 Retrieved 4 Jun 13
  24. icann or private auctions Published 3 Jun 13 Retrieved 4 Jun 13
  25. ICANN Prioritization Draw, TLDH.org Retrieved 1 Dec 2012
  26. PIC Download, gTLDresult.ICANN.org Retrieved 12 Mar 2013