The domain extension long associated with non-profits -- .org -- is about to ring up some big bucks.
Public Interest Registry (PIR), the not-for-profit operator of the .org domain extension, has teamed up with registrars Go Daddy and eNom to auction off 94 perviously unregistered one- and two-character .org addresses. PIR CEO Brian Cute says that the proceeds from the initiative -- called Project94 -- will go "to enhance the open development and security of the Internet, particularly in technologically underserved regions of the world."
Where exactly the money will go, he said, will be determined by how well the auction does. Go Daddy and eNom will also get a slice of the proceeds. While Cute expects the competition to be fierce since such short names are always in demand -- and I suspect that'll be the case -- it's not exactly obvious who would want some of these domains. The list of names includes a.org, o.org, 7.org, pj.org, 3p.org and b3.org. You can see Go Daddy's list here.
The auction date isn't yet set, and a Go Daddy spokesperson said it would likely take a couple of months to get it all set up. That's partly because these names won't be available for those trying to make a fast buck (sorry, Mike Mann). Instead, those who want in will need approval before they can even bid. PRI said they will be offered only to "companies and organizations who respect the inherent trust and value of the .org brand." More specifically, Go Daddy says any prospective registrant must have a plan for how they plan to build out the domain, complete with a marketing and branding strategy.
PIR took over operation of the .org domain extension in 2003, but these names were kept in reserve and PIR needed permission from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) before it could sell them. It got the go-ahead this spring.
So how much could these short .org names go for? No telling. Some .org names have fetched big dollars in the open market. According to Go Daddy, DIY.org sold for $60,000, AutoInsurance.org for $440,000 and Poker.org went for $1 million. Given these examples, I suspect who gets to bid will be as much about the business opportunity (ie., the money) as it is about adhering to some dated notion of what the .org extension represents.