The non-profit organization responsible for operating Canada’s dot-ca (.ca) Internet domain is now also going to be running the backend of another distinctly national domain – the New Zealand-focused dot-Kiwi (.kiwi).
With the Sept. 22 announcement, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is also launching its new Fury Registry Platform to the public. Fury is the backend system that CIRA has been developing not only to serve as the platform for its own top level domain (TLD), but as a service it can sell to other TLD operators. With Dot Kiwi Ltd., it has its first customer.
“We want to take the mandate of operating Canada’s domain registry and expand it to making a better online Canada,” says Dave Chiswell, vice-president of product development at CIRA. “It’s all kind of an evolution of our strategy from being a dot-ca operator to providing a broad set of services to Canadians.”
CIRA’s new business opportunity hinges on a new development in the web’s history. The domain space to the right of the last dot in a URL address has opened up beyond country codes and the few institutional codes established in the early days of the web.
The last batch of new TLDs that started being released to the web in 2014 were won in an auction held in 2012. Before that, there were just 22 general TLDs that you could choose to register a website. Now, new TLDs offer options for different addresses that are run by private entities. But running them comes at a cost.
ICANN charged a fee of $185,000 to apply to run a TLD in its last auction. Winners also have to pay $25,000 per year as an annual licence fee to ICANN. But CIRA is anticipating the new auction – possibly coming in 2017 – will see reduced fees for applicants because the anticipated legal fees weren’t as much as expected.
New Zealand brand, Canadian tech
For Angus Richardson, managing director of .kiwi, jumping into the TLD auction at the first opportunity was worth it to create a new domain for New Zealanders, and run what he sees as a good business model.
“We deal with the registrar distributors as our customers,” he says. “It allows for a a very lean operation. You don’t need to have a lot of staff.”
Once he hits a certain number of registrations, he’ll cover his overhead costs for the domain and start making a profit. CIRA’s Fury platform will help him do that by offering an organizational capability unique to a registry platform – a domain tagging system.
“It makes it easy for us to run promotions with different domain registrars or for specific time periods,” Richardson says. “The added functionality that makes running promotions easier is attractive.”
For example, say a new Lord of the Rings movie sequel came out to theatres and it was shot in New Zealand (as was the rest of the trilogy). Suddenly, tourism businesses in the country might want to register domains related to J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy universe – like hobbit.kiwi or gandalf.kiwi – and by tagging those domains for a specific time period, Richardson could offer special pricing on those domains. He could also work with a specific registrar as a partner, giving its customers better pricing.
“Think of it as a way of managing your inventory on the shelf,” Chiswell says. “For the premium inventory, you’re keeping it at a premium price, but keeping the rest of it ready for retail.”
Fury also has an embedded business intelligence engine that can “slice and dice” inventory, he adds. Registry owners can probe analytics that could answer a variety of questions. From how long certain domains have been registered, to understanding average churn rates of domains, or even understanding what prices you could charge for domains.
Fury provides the basic DNS services required for operating a registry and is fully compliant with the ICANN. The databases it operates are stored on Canadian soil.
The first customer
Inaugural customer .kiwi came on board after its old registry provider opted to shut down its TLD backend services. While Richardson now lives in British Columbia and was born in Toronto, he says he was introduced to Fury by a New Zealand contact. Being Canadian didn’t hurt his confidence about working with CIRA, but this partnership isn’t about a patriotic display.
“CIRA has a world-wide reputation for being trusted in its industry,” he says. “I believe more TLDs will migrate to Fury.”
Even if they don’t, CIRA plans to use Fury to run the .ca domain soon enough. Just by virtue of that, Richardson can expect continued support of the platform.
As to attracting the second customer and beyond, Chiswell has his sights set on winning more regional domain codes. He’d like to see cities get involved in bidding for round two of the TLD auction being conducted by CIRA.
“We feel CIRA is best positioned with Canadian focus and Canadian infrastructure to provide that service to Canadians,” he says.
But first, it’ll provide them to the kiwis.