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Ethos capital buys .org domain name registry from Internet Society

Ethos capital acquires .org domain name registry image

Ethos Capital, a private equity management firm bought the .org registry. The PIR which stands for the Public Interest Registry that created the top-level domain “.org” a non-profit company sold it to a for-profit company. Once ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) removed the so-called price caps on the domain .org during the renewal of the registry’s agreement with PIR.

The domain .org existed as an alternative option to the domain .com, which was a viable option seeking for companies that are looking for commercial profits. The domain .org was for non-profit use. The price caps on .org were quite cheap before PIR renewed the agreement. But now since that has been removed the domain registry has been acquired by Ethos capital.

A release about the deal said:

“Today’s news has tremendous benefits for both the Internet Society and PIR. The transaction will help the Internet Society to secure its future through more stable, diversified and sustainable financial resources than it has at present, allowing the organization to plan for the long term and advance its vision for an internet for everyone on an even broader scale. It will also enable PIR to continue expanding its mission and important work under new ownership- including its goal of keeping .org accessible and reasonably priced- while further strengthening and deepening its commitment to the .org community”.

But it is out in the open that Ethos Capital’s goals are very different from the Internet Society. The latest report by VeriSign tells us that there are 10 million domains that are active under .org. According to DoimaIncite.com, who spoke the Jon Nevett, the CEO of Public Interest Registry says:

“.ORG is the original purpose-driven ‘generic top-level domain (gTLD) with more than 10 million domain names registered worldwide. .ORG is open to everyone, providing a global platform for organizations, associations, clubs, businesses and individuals to bring an idea to life. For more than 30 years, .ORG has built an enduring legacy of trust, preserving an open and secure internet where diverse communities can establish a trusted online identity and freely share ideas.”


In an open letter published by the PIR said that it had no intention of increasing the prices of domains. But if the rate does go up in future, then it will be problematic for non-profit organizations and other entities that rely on low domain prices.

CEO Jon Nevett also commented on the domain name Wire saying:

“Our goal has always been to make .ORG accessible and reasonably priced and that will continue under our new ownership. PIR has made reasonable decisions on price in the past and we will uphold this spirit while going forward. We would never make dramatic price increases as we know it would harm our registrants as well as our registrars”.

George Kirikos an ICANN watcher mentioned the possibility of a PE sale. The draft of the renewal contract had the following part under section 7.5: https://www.icann.org/sites/default/files/tlds/org/org-proposed-renewal-18mar19-en.pdf

“That ISOC/PIR could simply sell or assign the registry contract to another entity (e.g.: private equity, just as registry operator Donuts was sold by its founders), and that new owner/entity could take heat for future egregious fee increases. ICANN would not be able to stop such a deal. Such a sale would allow ISOC to create a huge endowment for itself worth billions of dollars, given that .org is arguably the second most desirable gTLD, after only .com.” 

So, this section of the contract makes it very obvious that the deal has been thoroughly discussed before. So, only time will tell how this deal is going to affect everyone in the future.

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