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Dot Org Registry Sold to an Investment Firm

dot org registry sold

The non-profit organization that manages the dot ORG domain registry has been sold to a for-profit investment firm. Some are fearful that the cost of dot ORG domains will rise because the non-profit that manages the entire domain name system, ICANN, recently changed the rules to allow the owners of the dot ORG registry to raise the dot ORG domain name registrations.

The dot ORG domain name registry has traditionally been a part of a non-profit organization for the benefit of non-profit organizations.

Once the sale is finalized, the dot ORG domain registry will have been acquired by a for-profit organization.

How Did a For-Profit Gain Control of a Non-Profit?

ICANN ruled this year that the cost of .org domains will no longer be capped. This opened the door to raising the price of dot ORG domain registrations. Soon after, an investment firm purchased the registry.

The the non-profit Public Interest Registry (PIR) that manages the dot ORG domain registry was soon afterward sold to a for-profit private investment firm called Ethos Capital.

Ethos Capital is a newly formed company comprised of a former member of ICANN.

According to the recently created website, Nora Abusitta-Ouri, the “Chief Purpose Officer” at Ethos Capital, has held a number of positions at ICANN.

According to the Ethos Capital website:

“Ms. Abusitta-Ouri has held a variety of positions at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), including Senior Vice President, Development and Public Responsibility and Director of Engagement, International and Inter-Governmental Organizations.”

The founder of Ethos Capital is Erik Brooks, a former managing partner at Abry Partners.

Abry Partners is associated with Fadi Chehade, who was the CEO of ICANN from 2012 to 2016.

According to a report in The Register, Fadi Chehade left his CEO position at ICANN and soon after began working at Abry Partners, where the founder of Ethos Capital was previously a managing partner.

In 2018, Abry Partners had purchased an Internet Registry company named Donuts. The co-founder of Donuts left that company and became CEO of the Public Interest Registry, the non-profit that manages the dot ORG domain registry and approved of the sale of the non-profit to Ethos Capital.

Illustration showing people involved in the sale and purchase of the dot org registry

According to the press release issued by the non-profit Internet Society, which sold PIR to Ethos Capital

“It …aligns Public Interest Registry with Ethos Capital, a strong strategic partner that understands the intricacies of the domain industry and has the expertise, experience and shared values to further advance the goals of .ORG into the future.”

The domain name of Ethos Capital appears to have been purchased at GoDaddy in August 2019.

Will Dot Org Registration Price Skyrocket?

Ethos Capital has the power to raise the cost of dot ORG domain names. It is unclear if the cost of dot org domains will increase.

According to the Internet Society’s press release, the transaction becomes final during the first quarter of 2020. So it may be that current dot ORG domain name registrants have until the first quarter of 2020 to register their dot ORG domains for up to ten years out in order to lock in current prices.

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Dot Org Registry Sold to an Investment Firm

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